Learning about our gun cultures: I’m getting a permit to carry a pistol

Courtesy of Mike Cronin
Baseball hats, oversized clear goggles and buttoned-up shirts protected our flesh from singeing by errant hot brass ejected each time a gun fired.

This coverage is made possible by a grant from the Joyce Foundation.

The second time I ever shot a gun, I passed a safety class that qualified me to legally carry a pistol in Minnesota.

I fired 50 rounds of 9-millimeter bullets — which I bought at a Minnetonka gun shop for $16.95 — two weeks ago from a black Glock 17. I shot a human-shaped target that was 15 feet away at first, then 21. Part of the time, I shot using my right hand only. The rest of the time, I shot using both hands.

My instructor, Andrew Rothman, 44, who is certified by the National Rifle Association, told me I scored 97.33 percent — tied for second-best out of a class of five. I squeezed my right eye shut so I could line up the gun sights and the target properly.

As the least experienced, I went last. But I didn’t wait for my turn in the lobby of the Burnsville indoor range.

Ears stuffed with expanding foam plugs, then covered again with rectangular plastic guards that hugged my head, I hovered within inches of Rothman, absorbing his lessons, as he used hand signals to direct my fellow students how and when to pull the trigger. Watching others, I learned that my two-handed grip must be very tight or my aim would be off.

In a confined place and up close, gunshots are loud. “Hearing loss is cumulative and irreversible,” Rothman told us.

Burnt gunpowder odor pervaded the stalls. Its flavor settled into our mouths. Imagine breathing and tasting the aftermath of hundreds of exploded firecrackers in an enclosed space. Once each person expended a magazine, smoke and haze obscured vision downrange for a few minutes until the ventilation system cleared the air.

Baseball hats, oversized clear goggles and buttoned-up shirts protected our flesh from singeing by errant hot brass ejected each time a gun fired.

We had to be mindful of lead dust, not just lead bullets, too. The heavy metal is everywhere at a shooting range. Rothman, a computer programmer who lives in Chanhassen, made sure we knew to wash our hands and faces thoroughly before leaving, and to take a shower and throw our clothes in the wash before eating, drinking or smoking.

A mass shooting

The day before my gun-safety class, on May 23, in Isla Vista, California, a mentally disturbed 22-year-old man killed six people in a gun-and-knife rampage, then shot and killed himself.

I wasn’t aware the murders and suicide had occurred until the day after my class. The massacre never came up between 9 a.m., when I arrived at the Lakeville home where Rothman taught us, and 6 p.m., when I left the shooting range. No one mentioned it later that night either, when I went to see the latest X-Men movie.

Perhaps mass shootings in the United States no longer merit discussion, let alone outrage — unless the violence affects one’s family or social circle. Perhaps they’ve become routine, part of the hassle of living in today’s world.

The website, shootingtracker.com, shows that an incident involving a gun harming or killing more than one person has occurred almost every day since Jan. 1, 2013.

Americans, it appears, have been helpless to halt those attacks. Even a gunman murdering 20 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 yielded no effective policies to cope with the societal malady of gun massacres.

“In America, however, guns are everywhere and easy for someone with a criminal intent to acquire,” writes Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the 2013 introduction to his book, “Gun Fight.” “Those guns are here to stay, which means — awful as it is to admit — that mass shootings are here to stay as well.”

Later in the book, Winkler writes that “Americans are not likely to adopt effective gun safety laws until they come to grips” with those realities.

In an effort to do precisely that, I’ve decided to set out on a journey in which I will learn about America’s gun cultures: The gun-rights culture, the gun-control culture and other gun cultures within our country. I plan to share what I find out in MinnPost.

At the range

We didn’t head to the range until about 4:30 p.m. Except for about a half-hour lunch of roast chicken, tossed salad and potato salad, Rothman spoke in front of the dining room table of another pupil.

Rothman drilled us in the four rules of firearm safety:

  • Every gun is always loaded.

  • Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.

  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.

  • Know your target and what is behind it.

That all guns are loaded became a kind of un-Buddhist mantra throughout the day.

All guns are loaded. Any and every gun is loaded. A gun is never not loaded. Even when you “know” a gun is not loaded, the gun is loaded, Rothman said.

Rothman interrupted a lesson about the cognitive stress effects of a deadly force encounter and asked us whether one of the guns on the table in front of us was loaded.

The answer is always, “Yes.”

Rothman also stopped sections on gun storage, holsters and state statutes and asked us if this gun from that bag was loaded or that gun in that box was loaded.

“Yes,” we learned to say. “Always.”

Still, even the professionals forget this.

Our instructor showed us a video, famous in gun circles, of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent talking to an elementary-school class in which he shoots himself in the foot during the class with a gun he just finished telling the students was unloaded.

Why people chose to carry guns boiled down to three reasons, Rothman said: occupation, responding to a specific threat and general self-defense.

And the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a gun, regardless of membership in a militia.

Rothman compared possessing a gun to wearing a seatbelt and owning a fire extinguisher.

“Does wearing a seatbelt mean you want to get into an accident?” Rothman asked. “Does having a fire extinguisher mean you want there to be a fire? No, of course not. And carrying a gun does not mean you’re looking for trouble.”

In fact, Rothman urged us to stay away from potential problems. Firing a gun should be just about the final option, not one of the first.

“Courtesy is the social lubricant that keeps us from killing each other,” Rothman told us. He added, “Sometimes when a man is right, all he can do is apologize.”

He listed situations that should not lead to a gunfight, including someone vandalizing property. “Always ask yourself, ‘Is it worth a shootout?’” Rothman said.

The consequences of firing a weapon include being arrested, seizure of the gun, jail time, criminal charges, a legal defense that could cost tens of thousands of dollars and prison time, he said.

“Guns don’t solve problems,” Rothman told us. “But in certain situations, they make horrible situations a little less horrible.”

To determine if that’s true, I plan to apply on Monday for my permit to carry a handgun in Minnesota from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff personnel must grant or deny my permit within 30 days of the application date, according to state law.

To be eligible, I cannot have a felony conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor crime of violence, a drug offense or a stalking offense, been involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility or drug-treatment program or be a suspected gang member.

I must also complete the type of course I passed under Rothman’s guidance.

If approved, I will become one of about 171,000 permit holders in Minnesota. The permit will be valid for five years. It allows me to carry as many guns as I want, be they pistols, revolvers, shotguns or rifles. Minnesota law enables me to carry my firearms out in the open or concealed.

I don’t yet own a gun. But I plan to buy one if my permit application is approved. I don’t know when or how I’ll carry that gun either. But I plan to discover what that’s like.

I’m aware I live in an unsafe world, but I don’t live in fear of any immediate threats.

Will possessing and carrying a gun make me feel safer?

That’s a good question.

Mike Cronin is a Minneapolis-based investigative journalist who has reported for newspapers, public radio, public television and websites.

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Comments (107)

  1. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 06/06/2014 - 08:37 am.

    The seatbelt analogy the instructor gives has a major flaw: wearing a seatbelt decreases your odds of death, owning a firearm increases those odds. In either case, the absolute risks are low, so most people not waring a seatbelt survive, and most gun owners survive. But the math is clear: as more people don’t wear seatbelts, more people die. And as more own guns, more die. Glad you feel safe, but the facts are that when you buy your gun, you become slightly less safe.

    • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 06/06/2014 - 10:15 am.

      Facts about Gun Crime

      Your assertion that “more own guns, more die” is not accurate. Pew Research and the Department of Justice show that gun homicide is down 39% and overall gun crime is down a whopping 69% over the past twenty years in a legislative environment that was, until recently, largely pro second amendment and after the sunset of the so called “assault weapon” ban. Yet 80% of Americans believe gun crime is the same or higher than 20 years ago. Why? Because gun crime makes for salacious headlines and sells. Gun ownership has steadily climbed during this time frame as well. The facts do not support your theory.

      Please don’t offer the “gun owners are more likely to suffer an injury or death from firearms” argument. That’s like saying pool owners are more likely to die in drownings. It’s a red herring argument.

      • Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 06/06/2014 - 11:09 am.

        No, it’s actually not. Both having a gun and a pool are conscious decisions to put something with a risk close to you or your family. People can choose to have one, both, or neither. But the fact is that each comes with a risk. You can try argue it all you want, but the data is what it is.

      • Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 06/06/2014 - 11:13 am.

        Also– Just because a risk is lower now than it was 20 years ago, does not mean that there is no remaining risk. Driving a car is safer now too– but still has risk. And the crime stats ignore the many other ways you can be hurt by a gun that are not criminal, like suicide and accident.

      • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 06/06/2014 - 11:44 am.

        Except this guy

        Who gets my vote for the Darwin Award.


      • Submitted by Michael Goldner on 06/07/2014 - 07:31 am.

        facts and guns

        Kevin, your argument is simply not supported by the facts. Hand guns are inherently most dangerous to the people who possess them. Accidental discharge the leading cause of death by firearms. The odds of self or family or friend inflicted gunshots vastly out-weight the number of deaths or injury from guns at the hands of strangers.

        I don’t know about swimming pools, but i am pretty sure no one can drown in your pool, if you don’t have a pool.

        • Submitted by Jeremy Boehmer on 06/07/2014 - 11:33 pm.

          false facts

          Accidental (negligent really) discharge is NOT the leading cause of death by firearms.
          Suicide is. 61.2% (we are almost as bad as Japan when it comes to suicide rates)
          Murder is next. 35.0% (we are currently at historically low murder rates)
          Accidental (negligent) is last. About 3.8%

          Infact, the number of accidental poisonings deaths each year exceeds both auto accidents deaths AND firearms deaths. Also, more people overdose from drugs and die, then are shot to death or in fatal auto accidents. AND… pools are far more likely to kill someone than firearms are.

          Per the CDC… http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm

      • Submitted by Wes Davey on 06/08/2014 - 08:10 am.

        Missing a big part of the discussion

        The rates of firearm homicide (the killing of one human being by another) have gone down, but that’s only one part of the story.

        Firearms are used in more than half of all suicides, and it is safe to say that many of those would not have happened without the easy access to firearms. Would they have chosen another method of suicide? Statistics from the CDC and elsewhere strongly indicate that they would not.

        Also conveniently not mentioned are accidental deaths from firearms, the rates of which are also skyrocketing. The author of this piece mentioned a firearms instructor shooting himself in the foot – a major embarrassment but fortunately none of the school children were hurt. My experience as a police officer several decades ago was tragic: a friend and fellow police officer, also the firearms instructor for our department, accidentally shot and killed his infant daughter while cleaning his “unloaded” handgun.

        Any discussion on firearm ownership which focuses on homicides, while ignoring firearm suicides and fatal firearm accidents, is an empty, fatally flawed discussion.

        • Submitted by Andrew Rothman on 06/09/2014 - 10:27 am.

          You’re making things up

          Any discussion on firearm ownership which focuses on false assertions is an empty, fatally flawed discussion.

          Accidental death rates from firearms are not “skyrocketing.”

          “Unintentional firearm deaths represent a small proportion of firearm fatalities (See Figure 16)
          and have steadily declined since the 1930s.”

          Firearms suicides are also down:

          “Overall, national trends have shown a decline for firearm homicides and suicides. Firearm
          suicide showed a slow increase through the 1980’s, with a decline throughout the next two


        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/09/2014 - 10:49 am.

          Yes, without a gun there would be no gun suicides

          And without ropes, no hangings.

          With nearly no civilian gun ownership, Japan achieves a suicide rate nearly twice that of the U.S. (The leading cause of death for men 20-44 and for women 15-34). How do they do it? One popular method involves producing a gas from common household liquids. Banning those materials would not address the root cause of suicide, just like banning guns would not.

      • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 06/26/2014 - 06:38 pm.

        Violent crime in general is way down but no one

        believes it because representatives from the Gun Manufacturer’s Lobbying Association (The NRA) keep pushing the red herring argument that you need a gun to protect yourself in today’s violent Society. Admit it, no one’s going out to get themselves a gun and a concealed carry permit if they know that violent crime is the lowest its been in 50 years.

        I am Sorry, but its just a fact, people who live in homes with guns are more likely to die from a gun. Its not an argument at all, its a fact.

    • Submitted by David Gross on 06/06/2014 - 11:48 am.

      Seatbelts, Fire Extinguishers, and Insurance

      Dimitri, none of the studies which associate gun ownership with death (and only dead bodies) looked at causation by that gun. And they couldn’t find any causation, because the firearm is inanimate, a tool, requiring human intervention or action, human behavior in the context of society, human interaction. So, indeed, carpenters and other trades have higher rates of injury and death from their tools, hammers and nail guns, cutters, and saws; often those of others. Those studies suffer from the fallacy, “To a carpenter, all problems look like nails.” Even those studies admit, in footnotes, that there are stronger associations with human behaviors such as criminal history, drug use (intoxication) and dealing, social milieu/culture for violence (including, yes, domestic violence).
      The studies simply ignore the human context; so, the Bloomberg Bus tour of 2013 was able to, and did, list Tamerlan Tsarnaev (one of the Boston Bombers) as a “victim of gun violence,” along with others who were shot in their commission of violent crimes. Indeed, the entire concept of “gun violence” is premised on the idea, indeed, the goal, of “if there were no guns, there would be no gun violence:” a definitional tautology which ignores all the other tools and mechanisms; the human and social/legal (even moral) context of “right and wrong;” denies the legitimacy of self-defense entirely; and ignores, even denies, the personal and social good that comes from gun ownership. It’s like the person looking under the street light for their car keys which they dropped by their car 1/2 block away, “because the light is so much better, here.”
      Please, Dimitri, conduct yourself in your life as you see fit for yourself, what you think that you should do, based on what you believe for yourself, even as an article of personal faith. You should not tell us what to think, what to believe.
      Leave the rest of us alone to act under the constitution and laws, thinking, deciding, and acting for ourselves in our lives. We think of the ability to defend ourselves from criminal attack as a form of insurance against victimization. Nobody ever wants to use their insurance, especially life insurance.
      We respect your rights and freedoms; respect ours.

      • Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 06/06/2014 - 12:14 pm.

        David– please read carefully through my post. Please point out where I told you (or the author) what to believe. What I did do was point out that guns increase the odds of death. I’m pretty well versed in the rules of causality, and understand quite well that associations and increased odds don’t prove a causal relationship. Thus, you will note that nowhere did I sue the word “cause”. But I do know how to both calculate and interpret odds ratios, and other measures of risk, and that the best data that exists demonstrates that firearm ownership is associated with an increased risk of injury from firearms (even taking into account that among the 10,000s of those injured annually are some that were injured doing criminal things).

        So again, please show me where I told you what to believe. As to your love of the constitution, the first amendment also falls in there. It covers things like writing my opinions. Does that one not count in your version of reality?

        • Submitted by David Gross on 06/06/2014 - 02:50 pm.

          Dimitri – Please read carefully

          Dimitri, I did read carefully: “But the math is clear: as more people don’t wear seatbelts, more people die. And as more own guns, more die.” You did not use the word, “cause,” you assumed it as a premise, an unstated, implied, premise. It is not a fact, a truth; but you stated it as such, as a what-to-think that is not to be challenged, and article of faith (like a religion – also protected by the First Amendment), an orthodoxy of thought.
          Indeed, my love of the Constitution, including the First Amendment, respects, even cherishes, your right to state your opinion and beliefs and to put them out there for others to digest and to consider for their persuasive value.
          And you, also, respect my right to respond to the proposal and to point out the fallacy, the lack of logical, functional relevance, be it underinclusive or overinclusive association.
          “Odds” are that people who engage in violence of any kind had a milk-like diet early in life and that car crashes involve cars being driven by people. Therefore, “do the math:” As more people own cars, the more people will die. Just because you narrow something enough doesn’t make it “sharp” or incisive. Reductio ad absurdum goes in either direction.
          I don’t believe that it is wise for constitutional/social/legal policy for us all, or even personal choices, to be based on absurdities; or upon the attempt at persuasion to one’s personal beliefs, preferences, or choices through junk “science.”
          I have the right and power under the First Amendment to expose and to reject attempts to persuade me to give up my rights and personal choices “for my own good,” as you suggested, by accepting your ineluctable “math.”
          The First Amendment is a beautiful thing; but it has corollaries, such as, “It is better to be thought a fool than it is to open one’s mouth and to remove all doubt.” I think what you said was foolish, but I didn’t use the word “fool” (as long as you like to talk about what you didn’t say, explicitly). You may think what I have said is foolish. So, we both ran it up the flagpole, and we’ll see who salutes.

          • Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 06/06/2014 - 04:12 pm.

            Ugh, this is why it’s hard to argue science with those who don’t care about definitions. You need to know your terms. Odds in epidemiology are not what you seem to think they are: when you say that “Odds are that people who engage in violence of any kind had a milk-like diet early in life” you are really pointing out the obvious fact that every living person starts out on such a diet. Thus, it is useless as an association, since it is a universal exposure. Like breathing air.

            An odds ratio is actually calculated by taking the number of outcomes seen in an exposed population, divided by the number of outcomes seen in an unexposed population. And in order to calculate it, you can’t have a universal exposure. These are pretty basic rules of epidemiology. And the odds of death go up in homes with firearms. These are observational studies, which can’t show causality, but the associations are strong and consistent in their direction. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1814426

            • Submitted by David Gross on 06/06/2014 - 05:34 pm.

              Inanimate objects as Epidemiology!?

              Talk about definitions, Dimitri!? Observe them; don’t redefine, ignore them, or conflate them to suit your preconceptions. That’s not science. Change the meaning of words, and you can go anywhere you want; just not honestly or persuasively to a person with a brain.
              “Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems.” – WHO
              “Epidemiology is the science that studies the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is the cornerstone of public health, and informs policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.” – Wikipedia
              The use of tools, or not, in human/animal interactions is Sociology/Criminology/Anthropology. Interpersonal violence with or without tools is not about internal reactions, disease processes, disease organisms, or healthcare. Violence is externally introduced by action, not reaction. Again, with the backwards and upside down!
              You are trying an insurance/actuarial/risk analysis. I’m already in that risk pool as a member of society. But, I also choose to self-insure with an optional, supplemental policy. Don’t buy one if you don’t want to. Under the constitution and laws, such a policy is available to me, if I’m willing to pay the premium. You can’t deny me that additional coverage, or convince me not to buy it with this junk.
              The study you cite “Correction: The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization Among Household Members” has exactly the flaws which I pointed out in all of them and doesn’t compare across cultures for the problem human behavior, but looks at tool, because the light is so much better under the street lamp. Typical. And it starts, literally the first sentence, with the false premise of “causation” explicitly, which even you deny: “Firearms cause an estimated 31 000 deaths annually in the United States (1).” Not, “People use firearms to kill . . .,” looking at human behavior, choices, and actions. Enough said.
              Dimitri. Brain. Engage!

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/06/2014 - 12:15 pm.

        Self Defense

        Restrictions on gun ownership dose not deny people the right to self defense as there are other methodologies that can be used. Non-lethal ones at that, so if you accidentally shoot a family member or neighbor, you don’t maim or kill them.


        If you really want to protect yourself and your family, that can easily be accomplished sans guns.

        • Submitted by Andrew Rothman on 06/06/2014 - 01:15 pm.

          This is why no police officers carry guns — because there are many more effective and less lethal means of self defense?

          • Submitted by Marc Post on 06/06/2014 - 03:57 pm.


            And that’s why they never carry pepper spray or riot battons or hand cuffs. Guns are the only solution when you are a coward.

            • Submitted by jody rooney on 06/06/2014 - 04:41 pm.

              And that’s why my neighbor make a great living at teaching

              law enforcement to use non lethal force. Given the percentage of time they use lethal force vs. non lethal force I would say it is not the biggest deterrent in the bag. And they are trying to limit their use of deadly force even more.

              The big difference between seat belts and guns is seat belts are mandatory.

              The CDC data from 2010 on “accidental death” is here:


              In that year death by fire arm whether is was self inflicted or homicide was approximately equal to the number of Motor Vehicle deaths and the accidental poisoning deaths and is greater than accidental falls.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/06/2014 - 08:39 am.

    Viable alternatives

    Well, as they say, no one ever packs heat at Amazon.com.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/06/2014 - 10:21 am.

      Well, as they say

      The best cure for hoplophobia is being caught in the middle of an armed holdup. When that happens to you, would you rather have a phone or a gun?

      • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 06/06/2014 - 11:49 am.

        Are you trained in highly chaotic situations

        This is the false argument trotted out by the paranoid. If only I had a gun, I could have stopped whatever situation because I don’t ever get flustered or panic, I am the pillar of strength and my gun proves it.
        Now, recently there was a good girl with pepper spay who did actually prevent a mass shooting. Sucks when the meme of a good guy with a gun gets shot full of holes by pepper spray.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/06/2014 - 01:52 pm.

          As a member

          of the 6-man repel borders team on the USS Patrick Henry, I was qualified in the use of the .45 Thompson submachine gun, so yeah, I’m trained to deal with highly chaotic situations. Thanks for asking.


          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 06/06/2014 - 03:35 pm.

            So you were trained to repel boarders, either in tight, cramped quarters or on the open deck of an ocean-going vessel, where the targets to NOT hit are all wearing easily identifiable uniforms, and the attackers would most likely be wearing their own identifiable uniforms.

            The comparison between two military forces engaging in combat to hostage or robbery situations is absurd on it’s face. Beyond that, the USS Patrick Henry was decommission during the first Reagan administration, so your training is at least 30 years out of date.

            So yeah, your training isn’t applicable here, and your relatively advanced age has probably affected your reaction time, strength, and visual acuity. Don’t hold it against me when I ask you to please NOT leap to anyone’s defense with an automatic weapon.

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/06/2014 - 09:17 am.

    Best of luck in your journey of discovery. Couple of helpful tips:

    “Perhaps mass shootings in the United States no longer merit discussion”

    I engage in “mass shooting” every Wednesday afternoon at the Greenville Gun Club, and no one ever gets hurt.

    The Isla Vista kook was a mass murderer. He killed and maimed more people with a knife and his car than he did with his gun. As you travel among firearm savvy people, you will learn that they appreciate the truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth; especially when writing articles targeted at people who are not as educated as you hope to become.

    “I don’t know when or how I’ll carry that gun either.”

    Either always or never. You don’t ever want to have to wonder if today is your “carry day” if and when you ever have to use your weapon.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/06/2014 - 12:18 pm.

      Isla Vista

      Was he the exception or the rule to people who commit mass murder? We need some data here to lend context, not anecdotes.

    • Submitted by Bill Kahn on 06/06/2014 - 04:45 pm.

      The truth is that Rodger killed three people at the beginning of his odyssey of death by stabbing and killed four more including himself by gunfire, for a total of seven dead. He hit two bicyclists with his BMW and four more of the injured were shot by Rodger. There is another account of an injury that was not detailed at all. In all, he shot over 50 rounds of the hundreds he had.

      So of the 13 killed or injured, the knife and the car were used on 5 and Rodger shot the other seven.

      Tom might have been confused because there was another mentally unbalanced guy who ran down many in Isla Vista more than a decade before.

      Aside from the burning of the Bank of America and the innocent student who tried to put it out shot dead by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff in ’70, it was a pretty peaceful place with just the level and intensity of violence you would expect from a student ghetto (more peaceful than the Minneapolis campus of the U of MN, anyways).

      Much more truth in the article than from TS and I’ll look forward to reading more of Cronin’s experience.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/09/2014 - 07:32 am.

        “So of the 13 killed or injured, the knife and the car were used on 5 and Rodger shot the other seven.”

        Well, I stand corrected. But are you sure you didn’t miss anyone that sprained an ankle while running or had heart palpitations?

        Really, Bill.

  4. Submitted by Brett Kaufold on 06/06/2014 - 09:46 am.

    There more to guns than culture

    Like it or not, we live in a nation with a specific legal heritage for firearms, namely the 2nd Amendment. While I’m not so much of a gun enthusiast, and I don’t self-identify with “gun culture”, I am a proponent of our basic liberties, including the right to protect one’s self via firearms. I hope that Mr. Cronin takes this idea into account while he explores this subject. There’s more to the gun discussion than the “gun culture”.

  5. Submitted by Gary Fischbach on 06/06/2014 - 10:32 am.

    Good article. Only missing one thing. This from Pew Research.


    • Submitted by Bill Kahn on 06/06/2014 - 12:23 pm.

      Good paper

      That Pew paper is a nice addition and folks should notice that there is no demonstrated connection to the drop, gun ownership or anything else, yet; I’d prefer to see someone test a hypothesis that the drop was caused by an increase in empathy. I don’t think anyone is testing that hypothesis, though, and there are probably some demographic tidbits that fit better; but empathy to me is the answer.

      The courtesy mentioned by the instructor in the piece is instructive. When you commit to treating people with respect, whomever they are, you are taking an important step beyond any violent solutions rooted in fear or hate. It may not be long before you are driven by past failures or shortcoming to be decent and caring to anyone and everyone you meet (except in these comment areas because this is where we can all vent and do our worst without fear of reprisal, unless we don’t do so anonymously).

      Excuse me. I have to stop here. I felt something crawling on my calf, reached down and crushed it without thinking. I looked down and saw that it was an ant. Like prairie dogs, ants are social animals and I am trying to decide if I should feel bad about killing one. I would not kill a prairie dog, but ants? I will have to consult some E.O. Wilson work, I guess, but I am thinking that the involuntary removal of a skin irritation is probably justifiable insecticide.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/06/2014 - 10:55 am.

    When that happens to you, would you rather have a phone or a gun?

    It’s the posing of questions like that that makes me a customer of amazon.com. I do understand the condiment aisles of America super stores do need defending, but why not shop instead at home?

  7. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/06/2014 - 11:14 am.

    Good article

    It sounds like this firearms instructor is a good one–and it sounds exactly like the one I had when I took my hunter safety course in middle school (yes, middle school).

    One thing I actually advocate is a gun safety course for everyone. I don’t believe everyone should own a gun, or even have access to a gun, but I think everyone should be told that it is a deadly weapon. You should know how to safely handle it and know your risks when confronted with an armed person. You should know that, if you point a gun at something, you’d better be willing to kill it. And when you kill something, there is always a price to pay (whether it is the life of the game you intend to eat, or the death of another human being). And there are no takebacks from dead. You should know that all guns are loaded, and to leave one unattended, especially where a child can access it, is inviting death. You should know that YOU are responsible for every gun you own and every death associated with it/them.

    I also believe that committing a crime with a gun should be considered attempted murder, and that attempted murder should have the same penalties as murder.

    In other words, I think all Americans need to know about guns and view them in a realistic and responsible manner. LOTS of responsibility is needed to own a gun. But we also need to quit letting the media turn every shooting death into a circus that not only creates unnecessary hysterics, but provides the desired blaze of glory for the deranged people who commit them. After all, the latest shooting was stopped by someone who knew that a gun needed to be reloaded and that the gunman was a human being that could be brought down without deadly force in order to save the lives of others. A shootout does not need to happen if alternatives are available. We do not need to arm teachers. We do not all need to be armed to be safe. That’s terroristic talk there.

  8. Submitted by Kenny Christenson on 06/06/2014 - 11:23 am.

    There is more to the gun culture than a license to carry

    I have been shooting firearms for 53 years. I have been a firearms safety instructor for 22 years. I hunt upland game birds with a shotgun, hunt deer and antelope with a rifle, and shot prairie dogs for practical marksmanship. I always carry a handgun when I am in the field. I don’t need a carry permit to do any of the things that I do with a firearm. I have never been in a situation where I needed to defend myself with a handgun. I feel absolutely no need for a carry permit.
    I suggest you check out trap shooting, especially high school trap competition. I also suggest you check out IDPA competition. IDPA is International Defensive Pistol Association. IDPA is more fun than you should be allowed to have. I also suggest you spend some time in a deer stand and a duck blind. And if you are really feeling adventuress, spend a couple days in western North Dakota on the National Grasslands shooting prairie dogs.
    There is a lot more to the gun culture than personal defense or the 2nd amendment. There is more fun than you ever imagine could be possible.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/06/2014 - 12:29 pm.

      Fun With Guns

      That’s a good post by Kenny. Let me add that I also do military reenacting and collecting, which includes period guns. Some of the guys find them a hoot to shoot, although I usually abstain as then I’d have to clean the rifles after every flippin’ event and it’s already enough work hauling the gear in and out of the house.

      But there’s another small sub-culture of our gun society to consider: the collector. All the second amendment folk get the press, but there are also yahoos like me out there who just want to buy the guns because they’re cool. I don’t have any to feel safe because I don’t feel unsafe in my home or neighborhood. For most of the guns I don’t even own any ammo.

      If someone were to break into my house in the middle of the night, a quick phone call to 911 and stomping on the floor a bit will take care of that, just to let them know they’re in an occupied house. And if I’m not home, then it’s a non-issue.

      As for getting into the middle of a firefight while out shopping, that hasn’t happened to me in 50+ years on this rock. I’ll spend my time worrying about issues that have a higher probability of happening, such as slipping in the bathtub.

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 06/06/2014 - 01:07 pm.

      You’re proud of this?

      “shot prairie dogs for practical marksmanship”. Nice of you to kill for no reason other than “marksmanship”. WTF is wrong with paper targets?

      It is this kind of casual killing for no other reason than that you get a kick out of it that I object to. Not gun ownership, not competitive shooting, not conceal carry, and not hunting of game animals that you intend to eat; I have no problem with any of that. But killing just to kill and leave the animal lying there on the ground, bloodsport for “fun”, this is morally repugnant. If it’s on the Grasslands, it’s not even varmint control such as a farmer or rancher might feel needful – it’s just killing.

    • Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 06/06/2014 - 06:19 pm.

      There you go, Kenny. Prove that you are a real man and go out and shoot some of those vicious prairie dogs just waiting to put a fang into your throat.

    • Submitted by David Gross on 06/06/2014 - 08:05 pm.

      Gun “Culture”

      The bread and butter of the Second Amendment is defense against subjugation: defense against tyranny (all enemies foreign and domestic); defense against personal, criminal tyranny, self-defense.
      All the rest is gravy. Have as much gravy as you want.

  9. Submitted by Dean Knudson on 06/06/2014 - 11:29 am.

    Personal reassurance perhaps, but, statiscally, useless

    You might need a gun, at some point, if threatened by an armed assailant, proper training and a safe handgun would be critical in that scenario. You also might wish to buy insurance protecting against the possibility been struck by a meteorite, being assaulted by a large feral pig on Hennepin Avenue, being targeted by the Mafia of the west African dictatorship, or acquiring Dengue Fever. All of these risks, and many, many, many others, represent a rare danger to you. What they all have in common is they are statistically unlikely. The odds that you will ever need your gun for self defense are very, very, very low, your personal protestations notwithstanding. What you should do, at this point, immediately, is to call your insurance agent and purchase an umbrella liability policy for all of your personal assets. If you do ever pull out your handgun, and point it at somebody, anybody, regardless of your intention, and regardless of your personal assessment of the danger or lack of danger in that scenario, you will, undoubtedly, be sued. You will be sued for a very large amount of money, that lawsuit will be forwarded by a very clever attorney, and you will find yourself in a deposition, answering many embarrassing and anger provoking questions, by a lawyer intent upon opening a new orifice in your backside, and you should know in advance, you will not be allowed to have your handgun in that deposition. What is statistically much more likely is that you will develop a mental illness, and will be tempted to use that handgun to shoot yourself, or you will make a mistake, at some point, with an unforgiving piece of technology, and will accidently shoot yourself or someone else. Or, perhaps, your children will, somehow, find it and shoot themselves or someone else. At this point those scenarios seem to be a rare possibility, but, statistically they are much, much, much more likely than a scenario of you ever needing to use your gun in any kind of useful manner.

    • Submitted by Andrew Rothman on 06/06/2014 - 12:38 pm.

      Actual statistics

      Dean, while colorful, your comparisons are not factual. Meteorites have struck exactly one person in the whole world, ever. Defensive gun uses in the United States alone run around a million and a half to two million per year.

      Just a couple weeks ago, carry permit holder Bee Thao successfully defended himself against an attacker in a grocery store parking lot in St. Paul. (http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_25898652/st-paul-man-who-shot-teen-at-store)

      An armed robber was shot and killed in Minneapolis in 2011 after he pointed a gun at a permit holder. (http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/132807258.html)

      The year before, a Minneapolis bar bouncer (and permit holder) was forced to shoot a knife-wielding assailant. (http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/98246694.html)

      There have been no lawsuits in any of these cases, as it turns out.

      Of course, a good 95% of defensive gun uses don’t involve shots fired — most of the time, the mere display of a firearm is sufficient to discourage criminal activity. That’s a feature, not a bug.

      As for gun accidents and child shootings, they are rare and becoming even more so, in spite of the large increase in the number of guns owned and the expanding freedom to legally carry a firearm. As a nation, we’re getting safer and smarter.

    • Submitted by David Gross on 06/06/2014 - 03:39 pm.

      hysterical hypotheses

      Dean, Calculations are made based on probability and consequences. The consequences to body, quality of life, and life itself of being attacked are literally inestimable/infinite. There is still a huge cost to such rare events.
      Do you really think that insurance money can replace life? If so, act on it for yourself in that fashion and don’t resist. Outsource your life and choices concerning it to others, because you are convinced that you really are helpless, and hopeless. Others think differently in this matter of intensely personal values.
      Do you fear attorneys and the law? It seems so. In those rare occurrences, as you posit, that happen and a person defends himself/herself, the values of our society and law offer a great deal of protection to those who act honestly and in good faith, according to law. See, M.S. 611A.08. Immunities are a pre-trial, and appealable pre-trial matter, which must be determined before the action proceeds.
      Did I just hear from you an, “Oh, I didn’t know that people are “allowed’ to defend themselves in a civil society!”? What other prior permissions and permits from the government do you believe that you need in order to survive and to live? Are all yours up-to-date? I hope that you applied for them all, and hope that you don’t worry about it. I think that you are thinking backwards, as a dependent subject, not a citizen. Recent public school training/indoctrination?
      I’m so glad that I could relieve you of some of your worry and panic, but I’m not sure that I’ve made a dent in the total.

  10. Submitted by Emily Sojourn on 06/06/2014 - 12:24 pm.

    I just don’t understand…

    Ever notice how so very few movies/TV shows ever show gun death realistically? People are just shot and killed, end of scene. Nothing is said of the ripple effects to the families, friends or the shooter themselves.

    Consequently, we get these swaggering arguments about the right to defend yourself but few people ever seem to take the time to contemplate what would happen if they ever DID pull the trigger.

    I suspect there are several vets waiting for service over at the VA who could school us all in PTSD and what it’s like spend *the rest of your life* haunted by the fact that you ended a human life.

    Dennis, your question was: “would you rather have a phone or a gun?” I will answer for myself:


    Because the moment I took a human life — regardless of justification — would be the moment I truly feel my soul would die. And I would live out my days tortured.

    Please, please stop being so glib about this!!!

    • Submitted by David Gross on 06/06/2014 - 04:39 pm.

      I understand your concern

      The first and most important thing to recognize is that Movies/TV Shows are FANTASY, imaginary, not real. Once you start to think about reality, instead, you can make important decisions concerning the real ripple effects, the consequences, of real life. Nobody takes it lightly, at all. Nobody is glib.
      Real-life self-defense is when you are faced with a imminent threat of great bodily harm or death, or crime in the home. The consequences of not being able to act, or not acting, are real, immediate, fearful, gritty, painful, and very personal.
      I know people who have been in war, two police officers who had to kill someone legitimately, and two people who have killed in self-defense. All say that taking the life of another human being changes you forever, that soul-searching is a natural and necessary consequence of being human. Those who do not are psychopaths.
      But suffering great bodily harm or death at the hands of someone else also changes you forever. Can you trust the person who is already attacking to stop after only “breaking” you, to stop short of killing you? After all, the only difference between an Aggravated Assault and Homicide is the follow-through of the perpetrator. It’s a choice whether or not to try to defend yourself. If you can’t, you won’t. Nobody can force you to.
      “Phone or gun” is a false dichotomy. Phone, first; gun as backup: reasonable restraint. Better?

  11. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/06/2014 - 12:33 pm.


    It sounds like the firearm instructor is more intelligent than the couple of idiots who were conducting classes in Stillwater years ago. One member of the brain trust loaded a live round into the chamber while demonstrating to the class what NOT to do. He then handed the pistol off to the next knuckle-dragger, who proceeded to pull the trigger. These were supposedly trained professionals who knew better than to do something so completely idiotic.

    Fortunately no one was hit and the round just went into the wall.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/06/2014 - 01:52 pm.

      Was he the exception or the rule to people who conduct firearms training? We need some data here to lend context, not anecdotes.

  12. Submitted by Levi Kavadas on 06/06/2014 - 03:26 pm.

    Not Quite

    I’m a seven year veteran of the active duty Army where I was a Cavalry Scout. I was deployed three times while serving and then recalled for a forth deployment.

    I am infinitely more trained, professional, and experienced than any police officer ever will be.

    Every day we hear stories about insane abuses by police. The toddler who got her face burned off by a SWAT team, the 70 year old guy who defended himself against unannounced intruders who never made him aware they were police and he was shot to death, paramilitary forces from virtually every ABC department armed to the teeth with MRAPs, machine guns, body armor, and full camouflage uniforms, countless pets needlessly shot to death in front of watching children, et cetera.

    All of that caused by jerkoffs with two-year CJ degrees power-tripping while trying to make up for their failure to qualify for the military (or whatever the reason, guess I’m being jerk but w/e).

    Who do you want on the street protecting you with a firearm? Me or some 20 year old trigger happy kid fresh out of Century College with his associates degree?

    Before being deployed all soldiers are briefed by JAG about lawfully discharging their weapon. ALL WEAPON DISCHARGES ARE INVESTIGATED. ALL OF THEM. DURING WAR.

    Yes, believe it.

    I’ve seen soldiers too terrified to return fire because in the back of their heads they’re worrying about rotting in Leavenworth. How many soldiers’ lives did that fear of reprisal cost? Do you think LEOs have worries like that? Every day we hear stories about atrocities committed by LEOs and the perpetrators are almost universally let off.

    You *WANT*, if not need, a guy like me on the street ready to protect you.

    If nothing else I can promise you one thing; I won’t ever break into your house at 0200 and throw a grenade into your baby’s crib. That’s more than any cop can promise you, isn’t it?

    • Submitted by Andrew Rothman on 06/06/2014 - 03:22 pm.

      Levi, thank you for your service.

      It’s a little-known corner of the law, but long gun carry is legal — if not usual or practical — with a pistol permit. See Minnesota Statute 624.7181.

    • Submitted by Tim Walker on 06/09/2014 - 07:32 am.

      Just a thought, Levi …

      Do you ever wonder why these “paramilitary forces from virtually every ABC department armed to the teeth with MRAPs, machine guns, body armor, and full camouflage uniforms” are outfitted that way?

      Maybe it’s because in this land of the 2nd Amendment, they know that there is a great likelihood that the perp they are trying to capture has, at the very least, a handgun — and may also have an arsenal of weapons equal or greater to their own?

      As the Cold War taught us, arms races suck.

  13. Submitted by Dean Knudson on 06/07/2014 - 08:48 am.


    Anecdotes are just that, stories, designed to tickle our brainstems, and of great use in selling pantyhose, frozen pizzas and fiber laxatives, but of less use in this debate, no offense intended to the motivated participants.

    So, let’s talk numbers, and think like the dispassionate economists we all aspire to be.

    Randomly selecting April, 2014, and examining the city of Minneapolis, arguably the most dangerous place in Minnesota ( Hibbing included, and I’m mindful of their hockey prowess) there were 1607 crime incidents, spread among a population of 382,578, for a rate of 4.2 incidents per 1000 residents, and, of those, 302 were violent crimes, including robbery, aggravated assault and rape, yielding a violent crime rate, or an incident rate, of 0.78 per 1000 persons per month.

    If you carry a gun in Minneapolis, mind your own business, and don’t go looking for trouble, you will need to use it to protect yourself once every 1282 months, or once every 106 years, on average. If you live in a suburb, and spend less than 10 % of your nocturnal travel time in Minneapolis, you could expect to usefully deploy that gun every 212 years.

    Still, you might need it, in theory…and Bigfoot and Elvis might join you for lunch tomorrow (hint: get Elvis to pick up the tab, Bigfoot does not carry a wallet and he’s a big eater)

    • Submitted by Ben Brunk on 06/08/2014 - 10:44 am.

      response to your stats

      You’re missing the examples of crimes that take place on the U of M campus where signs are posted explaining to crooks that their victims will be unarmed and easy pickings. You also over look the deterrent effect that people carrying concealed weapons has–the criminals know they may be facing someone with a gun. It makes some of them think twice. They are still semi-rational human beings, after all, and they make cost-benefit analyses of whether trying to rob someone or invade someone’s home is worth taking a bullet or being killed outright.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/07/2014 - 10:24 am.

    The real problem with Kevin Vick’s 20 year old data..

    I’m surprised Demitri didn’t point this out, he seems to know something about statistics and epidemiology… violent crime and homicides over all are down over the last 20 years. The only reason we’ve see a corresponding drop in gun related crime is because such a high percentage of homicides and violent crime involve guns in the US. This has absolutely nothing to with training or gun laws or gun policies but rather over-all crime rates. The percentage of gun involvement in crime and homicide has not decreased at all, while the number of mass shootings has actually increased along with the number people killed in such incidents. Think of it this way, we’ve seen a huge decrease in gang war activity because off huge investments in anti-gang law enforcement, task forces, etc. The fact there are fewer gang related shoot-outs doesn’t mean guns have gotten safer does it? Same thing when prohibition ended, there was huge drop in Tommy gun related drive by shootings… that doesn’t mean machine guns got safer. They still banned them after the St. Valentines Day massacre.

    • Submitted by William Cihak on 06/07/2014 - 11:03 pm.

      sorry, doesn’t work

      The argument you make goes against anti-gun doctrine…more guns means there will be more, not less crime…but the statistics don’t show this and in fact shows the opposite…more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens does not increase gun crime or gun murder so the whole foundation of anti-gun arguments is wrong…stop criminals, not law abiding citizens…focus there and you will reduce gun crime…

    • Submitted by Kevin Vick on 07/24/2014 - 09:24 pm.


      “The percentage of gun involvement in crime and homicide has not decreased at all”, is a complete falsehood. The PEW Research is studying gun homicide and gun crime, not violent crime nor total homicides. You’re fabricating things now. Gun homicide is down significantly as well as total gun crime, per the report.

      Additionally, “tommy guns” were not and are not banned. I’ve shot them myself. Please stop speaking of things you know nothing about.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/07/2014 - 10:26 am.


    “The consequences of firing a weapon include being arrested, seizure of the gun, jail time, criminal charges, a legal defense that could cost tens of thousands of dollars and prison time, he said.”

    I hope Rothman mentioned the fact that the most serious consequence of firing a weapon is that you could kill someone? I would hope that would be the first consequence mentioned in a gun safety class.

  16. Submitted by Joe Musich on 06/07/2014 - 10:29 pm.

    what does it say that….

    there are zero comments about this piece at this site and fifty handfuls about guns at this commentary site?

    Just askin ?

  17. Submitted by William Cihak on 06/07/2014 - 11:00 pm.

    point missed

    The pointt that the anti-gun community fails to realize is that their main line of attack is that more guns = more death, not less…and this isn’t proven by the statistics over time…

    the point made by the anti-gunners, that the fact that gun deaths have declined doesn’t mean that guns contributed to that reduction, regardless of wether guns reduced the level of gun crime and deaths…more guns owned by law abiding citizens has not, not, increased gun deaths or gun crime, and on a personal level, as well as a state level, has reduced that crime.

    Also, they lump suicides and gun accidents into the equation…

    Japan has absolute gun control and has a far higher rate of suicide than the United States…

    Gun accidents are also going down…why…more people own guns and are getting training…if the anti-gun groups wanted to save lives from accidental gun deaths they would encourage gun safety lessons be taught along side fire safety lessons in schools…teaching children from an early age the NRA child safety rules…if a child sees a gun they need to be taught, in schools, to 1) stop 2) don’t touch 3) leave the room 4) find a responsible adult…

    But try to convince anti-gun groups to teach children gun safety…they fight it tooth and nail…because if children don’t fear guns, they won’t vote against them as adults…so better not to teach gun safety to children than to keep them safe…

  18. Submitted by Tom Karas on 06/08/2014 - 07:57 am.

    Please don’t let any facts get in the way…

    As gun violence spiked in the early 1990s, the CDC ramped up its funding of firearms violence research. Then, in 1996, it backed off under pressure from Congress and the National Rifle Association
    Funding for firearms injury prevention activities dropped from more than $2.7 million in 1995 to barely $100,000 by 2012, according to CDC figures.


    Kind of like the GOP approach to climate change. sad

  19. Submitted by Ben Brunk on 06/08/2014 - 10:39 am.

    gun owners vs. mass killers


    I appreciate your semi-unbiased look at the issue, but you still misunderstand something: 99.9999% of people who own and shoot guns are not murderers. It seems very odd to me that you would bring up the events of Isla Vista in your article at all since it has nothing to do with the main theme of your story, which is that you went and got some basic shooting instruction like tens of thousands of other Minnesotans do each year.

    I am concerned about the agenda, even if you attempt to hide it from your readers. Why? Because nowhere else in this society do we talk about objects this way. Cars don’t get a bad rap as death machines–imagine suburban women recoiling in horror as a Corvette idled through the neighborhood! That others in your group knew nothing of the incident is natural because only today’s media makes it possible for stories like that to span the globe–it happened half a continent away! That same day, hundreds of people died in car crashes across the US, too. There is a similar danger with swimming pools, electricity, you get the idea. It is unfortunate that these things happen, it is very tragic. However, it will not stop happening if guns were totally banned.

    It is only guns that seem to be labeled as worthless and evil, as compared to say, a chainsaw. Thus, someone, such as yourself, can then get into print showing how brave you are to do something that normal Americans do all the time and think nothing of because it isn’t weird or ‘special’ in any way, except maybe among your readers?

    What is weird is how normal gun owners are smeared for the acts of a few deranged people! It is as though mass murders never took place in the 20th, 19th, 18th, 17th, centuries, okay, all throughout human history… I submit that we know absolutely nothing of the real violent horrors that shaped the lives of our predecessors: mere echoes from history now, but perhaps we are uncomfortably because we see tiny glimpses of humanity’s brutal and bloody past in some of these recent incidents and we don’t like it.

    So, congratulations–you have separated yourself from the indoctrination long enough to think semi-clearly about what it means to have actual individual rights (vs. the collective rights that those who wish to control every aspect of our lives want us to accept). You are also becoming, dare I say, an adult, with an adult mind and an adult’s ability to rationally understand distinctions between concepts.

  20. Submitted by Jon Lord on 06/08/2014 - 12:00 pm.

    several states have a right to carry law that allows people to carry assault rifles in the open in towns without a permit to carry. Target itself has been targeted by ‘Moms’ against guns for allowing those gun-toting individuals in their stores.

    In the Wild West days, carrying guns in most town was outlawed. A person had to give them up as long as they were in the town’s limits. The reason for this is that it stopped people from shooting up the town and cut down on the number of banks and businesses being robbed. They returned the guns to their owners as they left town. This was reasonable.

    So now we (some states) allow people to carry guns in town in the open without knowing how stable these individuals are. And so civilization advances once more to the rear.

    So now several people enter a store with assault rifles on their backs. What are they up to? What’s to stop them from robbing the place? So now another group of people carrying the same enter that same store and they don’t like the other group. Or one of the groups decide the other group is either about to rob the store or is going to open up on them. How stable is a person who decides that carrying a weapon in the open in public is a good idea? For that matter, what’s to stop a gang from walking around carrying assault rifles? Maybe the workers in the stores should be given guns to protect themselves and the stores from potential shooters and robbers?

    There’s nothing wrong with owning a gun as long as it’s used to hunt with or target shoot with. The rationale being that it’s done outside or in a building with a target range. Hunting away from city limits is the ideal way to hunt, and in an area with a highly reduced possibility of shooting someone by accident.

  21. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/08/2014 - 03:33 pm.

    Statistics 101 “Probability”

    The first thing taught in statistics is probability (Green balls and white balls)
    5 Green balls in a bowel with 95 white balls gives you a 5/100 chance that you will draw a green ball, add more green balls while removing an equivalent number of white balls increases that probability.
    Using the same statistical logic, (keeping all else the same) adding more guns to society increases the probability that one of those guns will be (chosen). The same statistical logic follows, that guns in the gun pool, loaded or unloaded, locked or unlocked, pointed at someone not pointed at some one, discharged or not discharged. The point being that, it is a statistical certainty (by the numbers) that the more guns in the population increases the probability that one will be chosen and it will be loaded and it will be unlocked and it will be pointed at someone, and it will be discharged, and some one will be on the receiving end.
    Unless of course we don’t believe in math or statistics in which case the entire discussion is mute, as we then play “Calvin ball” and make up and change the rules as we chose to fit our own agenda’s.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2014 - 07:44 am.

      Explain to the class …

      Explain to the class how guns-in-society fits your green balls/white balls probability population. Are there guns and non-guns, and each time a gun is purchased, it replaces a non-gun? In 2012 the FBI processed 19.5 million instant background checks for firearms purchases. Considering the guns entering society each year, how many guns and non-guns does the probability population presently contain?

      We only believe in the proper application of math and statistics, so this branch of the discussion may be mute or moot.

  22. Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/08/2014 - 05:55 pm.

    Your Carry Permit Training

    I have a couple of comments/opinions regarding your training experience.

    “I squeezed my right eye shut so I could line up the gun sights and the target properly.”

    Many people use this technique, but since you are a beginner, without habits, you can make a choice about how best to make your sight picture. In a dangerous situation, which you hope to influence, closing your eyes or an eye is not helpful. Squeezing your eye shut eliminates all the peripheral vision from one side of your body. It is safest to keep your eyes peeled.

    “Watching others, I learned that my two-handed grip must be very tight or my aim would be off”

    In training, learn from the instructor and not the other students. A very tight grip is not as effective as a comfortable grip when putting shots on a target.

    “knew to wash our hands and faces thoroughly before leaving”

    Washing correctly is important, and soap with cold water is most effective. Warm water opens your pores, which is not what you want when lead and powder residues are present.

  23. Submitted by David Frenkel on 06/08/2014 - 06:19 pm.


    I am not sure how the majority of Americans tolerate the political behavior of the NRA. Only a small minority of gun owners belong to the NRA yet they speak as the gun lobby. Today 2 Las Vegas policemen were shot dead while eating lunch. When will this nonsense end?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/09/2014 - 06:26 pm.

      “Only a small minority of gun owners belong to the NRA yet they speak as the gun lobby.”

      And every time a Democrat announces a new campaign to disarm the public, more of them pony up the membership fee. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the NRA speaks for 80% of the gun owning population whether they are paying members or not.

  24. Submitted by Mark Rose on 06/08/2014 - 06:26 pm.

    Correlation does not imply causation

    I would like to respond to commentary suggestion of a causal relationship between decreasing gun deaths and increasing Second Amendment rights over the past 20 years.

    Nationwide, the annual rate of gun-related homicide, all homicide, and all violent crime peaked in 1991 and then began a steady decline. This precipitous decrease was first noticed in NYC and attributed to more effective policing, but was subsequently found much more widespread. Causality has been somewhat difficult to identify. A controversial explanation is the 1973 legalization of abortion, on the theory that unwanted children raised in adverse circumstances are more likely to behave violently. Support came from data showing greater reduction in post-1991 homicide rates in localities where abortion was more accessible. A recent causal explanation identifies the removal of lead from gasoline in the early 1970s. This hypothesis is based on known scientific data linking lead exposure to violent, impulsive and aggressive behavior, and is also supported by recent data showing higher violent crime rates in areas with abnormally high, non-gasoline lead exposure. Pinpointing cause of such population-level events is difficult, and even with the best of data, causality it tough to establish since the analysis is retrospective. But any causal inference should be based on some form of objectively obtained and measurable factor.

  25. Submitted by Frederick Freelance on 06/09/2014 - 09:31 am.


    Just a quick note on Shooting Tracker: the site lists shootings where FOUR or more individuals have been killed or wounded in a single shooting incident, not just more than 1.

  26. Submitted by jody rooney on 06/09/2014 - 09:53 am.

    Here is my cynical take on the handgun concealed carry crowd

    For those that are not in professions or retired from professions where they were required to carry a gun (this I have no problem with) the rest of concealed carry advocates are:

    1. Women who want to show how macho they can be or want to meet guys and the low cut dress just isn’t working any more.

    2. Men whose T level is dropping and realize they are not as strong as they use to be and need to compensate. This is not a slam on their masculinity but a sad comment on the protector role we have put them in in society. Being older makes you less physically fit and the world seems scarier. This is one way to compensate. Bad news is this isn’t going to stop or slow down. but you don’t need a permit for a walker.

    3. Men who feel powerless other wise.

    4. Men who have no social skills or intellectual where with all and want something to talk about.

    Women generally have to deal with things bigger and stronger than they are every day and they have found ways to do it without muscle. Many understand there are no possessions worth defending with your life or taking another life for. They are just things.

    As far as family protection – as they say the female is often deadlier than the male.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/09/2014 - 12:08 pm.

      And the good news, Jody

      Is that in a free society, no one is going to require you to arm yourself to protect your home and family. The choice is yours. You can choose to defend yourself or you can place your life into the hands of the local police department and no one is going to criticize you for doing so.

      In return for that lack of criticism for your choice that requires a large and heavily armed police force at great taxpayer expense, and whose only real function is to take your report or to draw a chalkline around your body, we only ask the same courtesy.

      Frankly, those who fear lethal weapons should probably rely on others to be their defender. But those of us who are trained and experienced weapons handlers should be allowed to defend our homes and families as we see fit without others insisting that we rely on the bureaucracy as you have.

      In a free society that recognizes a person’s constitutional right to defend himself or herself and their loved ones, that’s not too much to ask, is it?

      • Submitted by jody rooney on 06/10/2014 - 10:25 am.

        It’s not a fear of lethal weapons Mr. Tester

        I have used lethal weapons and horseback ride with people who carry them (for when a horse is injured so badly that the best option is to put them down). It’s a fear of the idiots who carry them. They live in a paranoid world where threats are everywhere and you are never safe. They lack the intellectual horsepower to understand that your brain is probably your best weapon.

        The “weaker sex” has always had a greater threat of stronger and more lethal physical forces , yet we don’t seem to be the victims of as many lethal crimes if you discount domestic violence. Note: that is an impression not data. How do you think we survive, not to mention live longer?

        As for defense of home, those are just things not worth defending and easily replaced.

        As for defense of family, I’ve done alright so far.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2014 - 10:44 am.

      That is an unflattering “take”

      Such an unflattering characterization of people different from yourself is a way of flattering oneself. What is your sample size? I hope it is sufficiently large to support the judgement passed.

      Painting a group of people based on limited experience with a few, is the weak foundation upon which racism is built.

  27. Submitted by David Frenkel on 06/09/2014 - 07:43 pm.


    How do you rationalize the killing of 2 Las Vegas Policeman? Was this done by bad guys or good guys gone bad? Was the brother on brother shooting today in Columbia Heights a case of I didn’t know the gun was loaded or was there intent of shooting his brother?

  28. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2014 - 10:38 am.

    The “drop” in gun violence and trends

    The funny thing about trends it they can change over time. If you look the “trend” that the gun lobby keeps pointing to: i.e. the spike in gun violence and the subsequent drop during the 90s, you should not two important things.

    1) The “drop” begins right around 1994
    2) The “drop” levels off and rates start climbing again in two stages, one beging in 2001, followed by another small spike in 2004. So rates are climbing after almost a decade of dropping, why?

    Well, in 1993 we passed the Brady Law requiring background checks on anyone buying a handgun. In 1994 the Assault Rifle ban went into effect. In 2001 Republicans started making broad electoral gains and started passing a variety of NRA and ALEC inspired legislation ranging from new castle doctrine to stand your ground laws. In 2004 when the second spike started, the assault rifle ban ended.

    We can talk the trends if you want, but the data show that gun lobby prescriptions were not responsible for the drop, and they’ve probably reversed the decade long drop. We know for instance the number of accidental gun injuries grew from around 75,000 in 2004 to 81,000 in 2012. (via the CDC).

  29. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2014 - 11:18 am.

    Gun lobby misninformation

    I’ve always noticed that the most unreliable information about guns and gun safety actually emerges from the gun lobby and NRA supporters. Everything from the nature of the First Amendment to rates of injury and crime get twisted one way or the other. In a comment here Andrew Rothman misrepresents the data contained in a University of Pennsylvania monograph


    on the nature of gun violence in the US Rothman, in his comment, makes the following claims:

    “Unintentional firearm deaths represent a small proportion of firearm fatalities (See Figure 16)
    and have steadily declined since the 1930s.”

    The truth is that figure 16 has absolutely nothing to do with historical firearm fatalities rates. Unintentional injuries have actually increased from 75,000 to 81,000 between 2004 and 2012. The data don’t even go back to the 1930s, they go back 1979 at the latest.

    Rotheman claims that:

    “Firearms suicides are also down:

    ‘Overall, national trends have shown a decline for firearm homicides and suicides. Firearm suicide showed a slow increase through the 1980’s, with a decline throughout the next two

    It’s true that firearm homicide rates are down, but that’s because homicide rates in general are down, the percentage of homicides committed with guns has remained constant at around 70%. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fv9311.pdf

    Here’s what the paper actually says about firearm suicide rates:

    “Firearm suicides rates have remained relatively stable.”

    Actually the monograph, and I highly recommend you go read it for yourself, concludes amongst other things:

    1) The rate of firearm homicides in the US is disproportionately high compared to other countries
    2) The firearm homicide rates dropped for 7 years (not two decades) and are now rising again.
    3) There is a direct relationship between the high rate of gun ownership in the US and the gun violence
    4) The states with the highest rate of gun ownership, and the least amout of gun regulation, have the highest levels of gun violence with Louisiana topping the list
    5) There is little if any reliable data on gun self defense but the brunt of the data indicate that the danger of having a gun is greater than any self defense benefits might be.

    Here’s the link to monograph again:

  30. Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/10/2014 - 01:49 pm.

    Thought we wouldn’t check?

    Your words: “Here’s what the paper actually says about firearm suicide rates: “Firearm suicides rates have remained relatively stable.””

    Page 10 from the linked monograph, “Overall, national trends have shown a decline in homicides and suicides. Firearm suicide show a slow increase through the 1980’s, with a decline throughout the next two decades.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/10/2014 - 08:57 pm.

      You call that checking?

      I could say I expected you would read the whole document (its only 55 or so pages long) rather than scan for useful quotes, but alas, I had no such expectation. If you continue reading and look at the in depth analysis you find that this drop in the actual numbers is an insignificant observation. The majority of fatal suicides are still accomplished with guns, and the suicide rate and profile is statistically stable.

      “Firearms as a Risk Factor for Suicide

      • Firearm availability is a risk fact
      or for suicide. The relative risk to commit suicide is 5 times
      greater among people living in homes where guns
      are present compared to people living in
      homes without a gun.128,129 For households with members under 24 years of age, it is 10
      times greater.
      • The relative risk for suicide among adolescents
      is considerably higher among those who live
      in homes where guns are present compared to
      adolescents who do not live with guns in their
      • The rate of firearm suicide among a cohort of
      adults who purchased a handgun was 57 times
      higher in the first week after the
      purchase than the firearm suicid
      e rate in the United States in
      general.” pp 37

      Anyways, I really don’t see what kind of point you people can think you’re making. Even if people choose to kill themselves with something other than a gun, that doesn’t tell us that guns are safe. You seem to think you’re making some kind of point simply by finding some number associated with gun violence that’s gone down instead of up. You do understand that rates like this can fluctuate?

      • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/11/2014 - 08:06 am.

        Did you read more than me?

        I’ve already read those bullets you cut and pasted.

        You claimed the monograph concluded “Firearm suicides rates have remained relatively stable.” A quote offered without context or time period. What page is that on?

        That doesn’t square this quote from page 10, “NATIONAL TRENDS
        Overall, national trends have shown a decline for firearm homicides and suicides. Firearm
        suicide showed a slow increase through the 1980’s, with a decline throughout the next two
        decades. Firearm homicides declined in the early 1980’s, rose dramatically into the early 1990’s,
        declined to a new low by 2000 and have shown a moderate increasing trend since then.
        Nonfirearm homicides have been downward since 1980. (See Figure 6) Age-adjusted rates (to
        account for changes in the age structure of the population) for firearm suicides began dropping in
        the mid 1990’s. Some substitution effect may be possible during this decade, as nonfirearm
        suicide begins to rise. No such effect is seen for firearm homicides, with the peak in the early
        1980’s and mid 1990’s contributing to large increases in homicides, while nonfirearm homicides
        steadily declined.

        According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks 33rd among nations in suicide rate. Most of the nations with higher rates, like Japan and South Korea, China (2X the suicide rate of the U.S.), Russia, and Belgium have more far more restrictive gun laws. In large, people in these countries are not killing themselves with guns. So let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion, that people will become happy and non-suicidal in the absence of guns.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/11/2014 - 10:36 am.

          Yes, read

          Steve, clearly you’re not reading the entire monograph, I provided the link twice, I’m not going to give you page numbers so you can go scan for quotes. If you or anyone else reads the monograph you’ll see the passages I quoted, they’re not “hidden” anywhere. Your problem is you’re debating instead of trying comprehend the information.

          And again, what is your point regarding suicides anyways? We’re not talking about suicide prevention here, we’re talking about guns, gun safety, and gun violence. No one is saying that guns cause suicide, we’re simply noting that guns are very lethal methods of suicide, and frequently used by American’s who commit suicide, especially men. The US “rank” in suicides compared to other countries is irrelevant. Facts can be facts, but they need to be relevant to the conversation in order to have meaning. The suicide profile may be different in Finland, but that doesn’t change the suicide profile in the US. Given the suicide profile in the US, it’s possible that decreasing gun availability may reduce some of the impulsive suicides amongst young men and teenagers, but no one guaranteeing that outcome. In any event, suicide prevention is and has never been the primary driver of gun control initiatives.

          And again, several observers have noted, and the monogram itself point out, that one reason US homicide and suicide rates (fatalities) may be lower (and may have dropped) than some other countries is we have a better EMS system with more experience in dealing gunshot trauma. So if you get shot in the US vs. Brazil, you simply have a better chance of surviving and not being a homicide or suicide statistic. During the crack epidemic and attending gang violence in the US for instance many trauma centers became very adept at dealing with gunshot wounds and that expertise may have played a role in the homicide decrease that eventually emerged by the end of the 90s.

          By the way you should know (as should everyone) that suicide rates in the US have been historically under reported for a variety of reason so “rate” comparisons even amongst US states let alone other countries is always a little dodgy, I wouldn’t read too much into these comparisons. Suicide reporting in any given country is also more or less under reported for a variety of reasons.

          And again, we also know that gun related injuries in general are under reported by as much as 50% for a variety of reasons. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/children-and-guns-the-hidden-toll.html?_r=0

          • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/11/2014 - 12:25 pm.

            Did you provide the link?

            The link was provided by Andrew Rothman, June 27, 2014, 10:27 AM.

            My point on suicides? That your point, your statement, wherever the un-sourced quote came from, is incorrect. From page 10 of the monograph, “Firearm suicide showed a slow increase through the 1980’s, with a decline throughout the next two decades. Two decades.

            If better EMS is the key to a decrease in suicide rate, it would follow that means other than guns are more lethal. As we learned from the monograph, ” Age-adjusted rates (to account for changes in the age structure of the population) for firearm suicides began dropping in the mid 1990’s. Some substitution effect may be possible during this decade, as nonfirearm suicide begins to rise. Non-firearm suicides began to rise.

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/11/2014 - 01:37 pm.

              Did I provide the link?

              Yes, twice, and page number for one of my quotes, it’s the same link Rothman provided, and I clearly state that in my comment. Now your not even bothering to read the comments let alone the monograph? Here’s link again: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/ficap/resourcebook/pdf/monograph.pdf

              Dude, anything that kills you can’t “more lethal” than another thing that kills you, either way your dead. You’re still not making coherent point. If people start hanging themselves instead of shooting themselves it doesn’t mean that guns have become less lethal or safer, it just means more people are hanging themselves instead of shooting themselves. Even if there were statistically significant drop in firearm suicides over any period of time, that wouldn’t mean that guns are safe or safer, it would simply mean that people have changed their preference for suicide. A guy could be standing in a room full of guns and hang himself, that doesn’t mean the are safe or less lethal or whatever.

              I see you’re still cherry picking quotes and ignoring the major finding that:

              “Firearm availability is a risk factor for suicide.

              The relative risk to commit suicide is 5 times
              greater among people living in homes where guns
              are present compared to people living in
              homes without a gun. 128,129For households with
              members under 24 years of age, it is 10
              times greater.

              The relative risk for suicide among adolescents
              is considerably higher among those who live
              in homes where guns are present compared to
              adolescents who do not live with guns in their

              The rate of firearm suicide among a cohort of
              adults who purchased a handgun was 57 times
              higher in the first week after the
              purchase than the firearm suicid
              e rate in the United States in general”

              Again, this on page 37. Again, here’s the link: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/ficap/resourcebook/pdf/monograph.pdf

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/11/2014 - 02:33 pm.

                Thanks for the link.

                No matter how many times you cut and paste the same link, you will not be the one that brought that monograph to this discussion.

                You proposed that superior EMT care was the reason for a drop in firearm suicides. I merely pointed out that the non-firearm suicides (completed) had gone up. Again, “Age-adjusted rates (to account for changes in the age structure of the population) for firearm suicides began dropping in the mid 1990’s. Some substitution effect may be possible during this decade, as nonfirearm suicide begins to rise”. So for the EMT solution to be the difference maker, they would have gotten better at dealing with gunshot wounds and worse at other suicide methods. An increase in lethality? More lethal.

                Left from many research studies are the benefits of firearm ownership. It is a strategy of trumpeting the risks and hiding the benefits. While many claim that there are no benefits, that just isn’t so. Says who? Says the Center for Disease Control, “CDC Study: Use of Firearms For Self-Defense is ‘Important Crime Deterrent: (CNSNews.com) – “Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,”says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The $10 million study was commissioned by President Barack Obama as part of 23 executive orders he signed in January.”

                “Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies,” the CDC study, entitled “Priorities For Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence,” states.”


            • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 06/11/2014 - 02:01 pm.

              “If better EMS is the key to a decrease in suicide rate, it would follow that means other than guns are more lethal.”

              Paul already makes a good point about ‘lethality’ in his response to this statement you made.

              Personally, I find this line of thinking you’ve mentioned to be rather silly. I mean, just because we are getting better at treating asthma and diabetes, does that mean that we should build more coal plants next to suburbs and encourage kids to get woefully fat, because the medical conditions that are made manifest by such things are now more treatable? Personally, I’d rather try and get at treating the root cause, not the symptoms.

              • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/12/2014 - 01:48 pm.

                Silly Indeed

                Especially when the research showed non-firearm suicide increasing while firearm suicide decreased. The EMS theory was Paul’s contribution to the conversation. He backed away from it in his most recent post, “I never claimed that EMS was a primary factor”. OK.

                “Root cause” was something I brought to the conversation. My comment from June 9th, ” Banning those materials would not address the root cause of suicide, just like banning guns would not.”

                • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 06/12/2014 - 02:28 pm.

                  Then it must be silly season

                  Paul never did claim that better EMS response was the primary factor. He didn’t claim it in his original post, and he clarified it again below. The posts are there for all to read. OK.

                  Also, the ‘root’ cause for suicides versus mass murder are very different. Besides, when addressing ‘root causes’ you must also consider the environment as a whole. The root cause for drunken driving deaths is alcohol, yet that doesn’t mean we ban alcohol… but We DO however heavily regulate the manufacture and sale of alcohol, revoke licenses for people who drive while drunk, throw them in jail, have police stops, require servers to ID bar patrons, require labeling on all alcoholic beverages, et etc etc. Cripes, in some states, wait staff can be thrown in prison for serving minors or overserving drunks. What people here are advocating are similar common sense measures. If you can’t order 2 gallons of pure grain alcohol at Billy’s for your 18 year-old to drink, maybe you shouldn’t be able to buy them an AR-15 either.

                  So, yeah, banning all guns (which almost no-one is proposing) won’t stop all suicides, accidental deaths, or murder. But it will heavily reduce both.

                  • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/12/2014 - 03:10 pm.

                    Primary Factor

                    Indeed, he didn’t label it “primary factor”. I can say that regarding every comment that I ever made on Minnpost. He brought it up and backed away from it; all here for everyone to read.

                    People who drive while drunk have exhibited a behavior that should disqualify them for life from driving. Some behaviors should and do disqualify people for life from gun ownership.

                    Both suicides, accidental deaths, and murders? As we have already discussed, the countries with the highest rates of suicide have very restrictive gun laws.

                    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 06/12/2014 - 04:20 pm.


                      Paul’s Original Post, June 11:
                      “And again, several observers have noted, and the monogram itself point out, that one reason US homicide and suicide rates (fatalities) may be lower (and may have dropped) than some other countries is we have a better EMS system with more experience in dealing gunshot trauma. So if you get shot in the US vs. Brazil, you simply have a better chance of surviving and not being a homicide or suicide statistic. During the crack epidemic and attending gang violence in the US for instance many trauma centers became very adept at dealing with gunshot wounds and that expertise may have played a role in the homicide decrease that eventually emerged by the end of the 90s.”

                      Paul uses ‘may’ three times here, and mentions that it was listed in the article mentioned. Not “definitely” or “definitively” or “certainly,” but “may.”

                      – Steve responded:
                      “If better EMS is the key to a decrease in suicide rate, it would follow that means other than guns are more lethal.”

                      – Paul followed up:

                      From Paul, on June 11:
                      “Furthermore, I never claimed that EMS was a primary factor in the reduction of mortality, I simply pointed out that many researchers thinks its a factor. Your entire train [of] thought stems from a claim I never made and is therefore incoherent.”

                      From Steve Rose, June 12:
                      “Indeed, he didn’t label it “primary factor”. I can say that regarding every comment that I ever made on Minnpost. He brought it up and backed away from it; all here for everyone to read.”

                      Paul’s statements appear to be much more coherent. The defense rests.

                    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/19/2014 - 07:08 am.

                      The Defense Rusts?

                      Definition of “breakdown” from merriam-webster.com:

                      “the failure of a relationship or of an effort to discuss something”. That certainly seems appropriate.

                      Jon, were this Facebook, you could give Paul a thumbs-up LIKE. I am certain that he is grateful for your support.

  31. Submitted by jason myron on 06/11/2014 - 02:53 pm.

    At the end of the day

    I couldn’t care less how some people choose to off themselves, but I do care about people killing others. Anyone that feels that the answer to gun violence in America is for more people to have access to firearms has a serious frontal lobe defect and should seek immediate help. They should also be nowhere near any kind of weapon.

  32. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/11/2014 - 04:30 pm.


    I think you’re kind of embarrassing yourself. I never claimed to have been the originator of the link, this is what I said:

    “In a comment here Andrew Rothman misrepresents the data contained in a University of Pennsylvania monograph


    on the nature of gun violence in the US Rothman, in his comment, makes the following claims: …”

    I didn’t claim to introduce the monograph, I critiqued Rothman’s misrepresentation of monograph’s content. Regardless how the link got into this discussion, the monograph still says what is says (if you bother to read it) and it doesn’t say what Rothman claimed.

    Furthermore, I never claimed that EMS was a primary factor in the reduction of mortality, I simply pointed out that many researchers thinks its a factor. Your entire train thought stems from a claim I never made and is therefore incoherent.

    Your analysis of defensive gun application doesn’t appear to be any more reliable than your analysis of my comments. We just don’t have don’t have any good data go on, estimates of defensive deployments of firearms range from 100,000 a year to 2.5 million.

    As for the CNS news story you point to, they didn’t even get the authors identified correctly, they claim this is a CDC release and it isn’t. The report was produced by “The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council” NOT the CDC. I’m not going to spend $40 to find out what this report claims, and I don’t trust a summary from a journalists who can’t even identify the author or origin of the work correctly. And CNS didn’t even get the focus of the book correct, it looks at self defense amongst other issues, it’s not a study of self defense.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/12/2014 - 01:22 pm.

      “NOT the CDC”?

      And the following day, you said this, “Steve, clearly you’re not reading the entire monograph, I provided the link twice, I’m not going to give you page numbers so you can go scan for quotes.” In at least one post, you provided the link twice, and your link total is presently at four or five and rising. All the same link. Talk about embarrassing.

      We can’t talk about defensive use of handguns due to lack of good data? According to you (and the NY Times), gun related injuries are under-reported by as much as 50%. Lack of good data does not seem to hinder that discussion. Your analysis of gun related injuries doesn’t appear to be very reliable. Clever how the lack of good data can be used.

      Regarding the report from the Institute of Medicine, it you read all the way to the end (page 4), you will see that the study has two sponsors: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC Foundation. NOT a CDC report?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2014 - 02:49 pm.


        This business of scanning stuff for debate material rather than actually reading anything just keep backfiring on your Steve. Here’s what the document says about the role of the CDC:

        “The CDC and the CDC Foundation2 requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in collaboration with the National Research Council (NRC), convene a committee of experts to develop a potential research agenda focusing on the public health aspects of firearm-related violence—its causes, approaches to interventions that could prevent it, and strategies to minimize its health burden. ” Page 2.

        The CDC commissioned the report, they had nothing to do with authoring it or publishing it. Page 2.

        Here’s how your CNS authors describe the study:

        ““Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,”says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The $10 million study was commissioned by President Barack Obama as part of 23 executive orders he signed in January.”

        This is simply wrong. Not only that but the CNS goes on to say that President Obama commissioned the report, this is clearly mistaken, it was the CDC not the president who commissioned the report. And again, commissioning a report is not the same as authoring or even publishing the report.

        I was wrong about one thing however, you can download the report for free: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18319 If I get a chance I’ll download it and take a look at what it actually says about defensive uses of firearms, but I wouldn’t hold my breath dear readers if I’s you.

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/12/2014 - 08:53 pm.

          Claiming to know what I have read …

          Claiming to know what I have read is a popular theme with you. You seem to
          infer that if everyone would read what you read, we would all agree on
          everything. If we don’t agree with you, clearly we have not read what you
          have read.

          The CDC and the CDC Foundation sponsored the report and paid for it.
          Claiming that they have nothing to do with authoring or publishing just
          isn’t so. The report came about as the result of an executive order from
          the President. Picking at the nuances of the participation of the CDC and
          the President, who were clearly involved, is a weak attempt to divert
          attention from what the report concludes. Should we just call the
          researchers, authors, publishers, and financiers the government and people
          paid by the government directly and indirectly?

          Let’s argue that a car is not a GM, it is a Chevrolet; that seems like a
          debate you would enjoy.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/18/2014 - 11:42 am.


            Apparently I have to explain what an “author” is.

            An author is a person or group that contributes substantially to the text of a document or other creation. This is why Eric Black is listed at the author of “Black Ink” despite the fact that Minnpost pays him to write it. The fact is that the CDC does not appear as author anywhere in the text of this document, and the recommended citation is:

            “Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.”

            The reporters at CNS not only ignore the correct authorship citation, they actually go out of their way to create their own misleading citation.

            Look, a guy can be forgiven for not know the some of the citation rules government academic publications to just for general information; the standard practice is to include anyone who actually had a role in producing the content, and the names are listed in order of magnitude of contribution starting the originator of the project. This means that some of the listed authors may not have not have actually written any of the content, but were involved in the analysis or data collection of some kind. The fact the CDC does NOT appear as an author here really does tell you that they had nothing to with actually creating this document. If they played a role in the authorship you can bet they’d be listed.

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/18/2014 - 10:12 pm.

              A word not found

              No form of the word “author” appears in the CNS article. I did a word search.

              What need is there to explain a word not present in the article? This diversion only serves to attempt in vain to avoid what the article clearly states. Not interested in the study’s findings? I would find it more interesting than “some of the citation rules government academic publications to just for general information;”

  33. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/12/2014 - 07:24 am.

    Anyways, about those suicides

    Rates dropped but their edging up again. And although firearm use has declined, guns still account for more suicides than all other methods combined, and are nearly twice as prevalent as the next most common method with is suffocation. Harvard has nice little power point: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CGMQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hsph.harvard.edu%2Fmeans-matter%2Ffiles%2F2012%2F09%2FSuicideTrends1.ppt&ei=mZiZU_C5OszeoASd3IEo&usg=AFQjCNHiHezItf1Kkt5d4yR7r3XoJhDwMg&bvm=bv.68911936,d.cGU&cad=rja

    If you’re interested… but I still don’t see any point that gun advocates can make out of this.

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