Opinion | How to Win an Argument About Guns – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Tragically, predictably, infuriatingly, we’re again mourning a shooting — this time at YouTube’s headquarters — even as the drive for gun safety legislation has stalled in Washington. Polls show that nine out of 10 Americans favor basic steps like universal background checks before gun purchases, but the exceptions are the president and a majority in Congress.

Usually pundits toss out their own best arguments while ignoring the other side’s, but today I’m going to try something new and engage directly with the arguments made by gun advocates:You liberals are in a panic over guns, but look at the numbers. Any one gun is less likely to kill a person than any one vehicle. But we’re not traumatized by cars, and we don’t try to ban them.It’s true that any particular car is more likely to be involved in a fatality than any particular gun. But cars are actually a perfect example of the public health approach that we should apply to guns. We don’t ban cars, but we do work hard to take a dangerous product and regulate it to limit the damage.

We do that through seatbelts and airbags, through speed limits and highway barriers, through driver’s licenses and insurance requirements, through crackdowns on drunken driving and texting while driving. I once calculated that since 1921, we had reduced the auto fatality rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent.”

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John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment – The New York Times

“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.

That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”

I Was a Marine. I Don’t Want a Gun in My Classroom. – The New York Times

“Here is something I didn’t think about: I did not think about arming myself to protect my students. President Trump on Thursday specified that he wants only certain teachers — “highly adept people, people that understand weaponry” — to be armed. I will immodestly state that among professors in the United States, I am almost certainly one of the best shooters. But I would never bring a weapon into a classroom. The presence of a firearm is always an invitation to violence. Weapons have no place in a learning environment.

Last month, the State Legislature in West Virginia, where my university is located, introduced the Campus Self-Defense Act. This would prohibit colleges and universities from designating their campuses as gun-free zones. If this act becomes law, I will resign my professorship. I will not work in an environment where professors and students pack heat.When I was a young Marine, I had to learn how to use many weapons. It was part of my mission to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” My mission these days is to write books and teach literature and creative writing. It’s a noble calling, too. But no one should be asked to put his life on the line for it.”

America Is the Gun – by Charles Blow – NYT

“There are things that we could do right now that could lessen the lethality of the guns currently available and we could ban some guns — neither of which is likely to happen.

I’m convinced that we must think big and systemically. We must treat gun violence in this country as a public health crisis, because it is

First, we must repeal the N.R.A.-backed Dickey Amendment, named for the man who sponsored it, former Representative Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican. It reads: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” “

Nasty- Brutish and Trump – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.

It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.

Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.No other advanced nation experiences frequent massacres the way we do. Why? Because they impose background checks for prospective gun owners, limit the prevalence of guns in general and ban assault weapons that allow a killer to shoot dozens of people before he (it’s always a he) can be taken down. And yes, these regulations work.”

A Day of Raw Mourning and Rare Accountability on TV – The New York Times

“What makes teenagers amazing — or infuriating, if you’re in an argument with one — is they don’t know what they’re not supposed to be able to do.

They haven’t learned that being smart means being cynical about what you can accomplish. They haven’t been hard-wired with platitudes and euphemisms. They haven’t internalized a list of questions that are too naïve or impolite to ask.

At CNN’s town hall on gun violence Wednesday, “Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action,” this resulted in something you rarely see on TV: accountability. A week after 17 people died in a mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a group of angry, grieving constituents was questioning public officials as if they worked for the public.”

How the N.R.A. Keeps Federal Gun Regulators in Check – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — For years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been overlooked in Washington. Overshadowed by more politically powerful law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I., the A.T.F. garnered headlines mostly for notorious episodes, including the deadly 1993 siege in Waco, Tex., and the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal more than a decade later.

Now, the A.T.F. is on the verge of a crisis. The agency, which has not grown significantly since its founding in 1973, is about to confront a staffing shortage and is set to lose its tobacco and alcohol enforcement authorities. President Trump has yet to nominate a director to oversee the agency, which has been without permanent leadership for eight of the past 12 years.

Amid the dearth of leadership and resources, the White House is pushing the A.T.F. to the forefront of its fight against violent crime. In response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, Mr. Trump, who promised to fight violent criminal gangs and illegal guns — two of the A.T.F.’s key missions — announced that he would be relying on the bureau to regulate so-called bump stock accessories.But it is all but politically impossible for Mr. Trump, who counts the powerful gun lobby among his most ardent supporters, to strengthen the A.T.F. The National Rifle Association has long sought to hobble the agency in an effort to curb its ability to regulate guns, which the gun lobby has traditionally opposed.

“Most people in law enforcement know why A.T.F. can’t get a director,” said Michael Bouchard, a former agent and the president of the A.T.F. Association, an independent group that supports current and former bureau officials. “It’s not because of the people. It’s because of the politics.””

Get Out of Facebook and Into the N.R.A.’s Face – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last week’s mass shooting, wrote a beautiful essay for CNN.com that declared: “At the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools. But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.”Cameron, God bless you for that sentiment. But just one piece of respectful advice: If your generation and mine want to get serious about a gun control crusade, we all need to get out of Facebook and into someone’s face: the N.R.A.’s.This fight can’t be won on Twitter or Instagram. They do get people into the streets. But social media have created a world of faux activism — “Hey, I tweeted about it” — that the bad guys take advantage of. The N.R.A. is not just in the chat rooms. It’s in the cloakrooms of Congress and state legislatures. And it’s there with bags of money and votes it uses to reward lawmakers who do its bidding and hurt those who don’t.I loved seeing the 100 students from your high school taking buses Tuesday to Florida’s capital to directly press lawmakers. That’s a great start. I hope every high school follows.But, ultimately, nothing will change unless young and old who oppose the N.R.A. run for office, vote, help someone vote, register someone to vote or help fund someone’s campaign — so we can threaten the same electoral pain as the National Rifle Association, which, according to PolitiFact, spent $203.2 million between 1998 and 2017 funding its candidates, defeating gun control advocates and lobbying. This is not about persuading people with better ideas. We tried that. It’s about generating raw electoral power and pain.

Guns and the Soul of America – by David Brooks – NYT

“The reality is that in some places people want these laws. It’s true that individual gun control measures, like banning bump stocks, have popular support, but, over all, the gun rights people are winning the hearts and minds of America. In 2000, according to a Pew survey, only 29 percent of Americans supported more gun rights and 67 percent supported more gun control. By 2016, 52 percent of Americans supported more gun rights and only 46 percent supported more control.”

“The real reason the gun rights side is winning is postindustrialization. The gun issue has become an epiphenomenon of a much larger conflict over values and identity.

A century ago, the forces of industrialization swept over agricultural America, and monetary policy became the proxy fight in that larger conflict. Today, people in agricultural and industrial America legitimately feel that their way of life is being threatened by postindustrial society. The members of this resistance have seized on issues like guns, immigration, the flag as places to mobilize their counterassault. Guns are a proxy for larger issues.”

David Lindsay:  The strengths of this op-ed way outweigh its weaknesses. Brooks is brilliant at looking for answers deeper than what is being discussed, and revealing truths, that add to our understanding of the enormous frustration of our political polarization.

Here are some top comments that are helpful, though none of them acknowledge that Brooks has just made an important point.

Socrates

is a trusted commenter Verona NJ October 6, 2017

A 2017 Pew survey indicated 51% said it’s more important to control gun ownership, while 47% said it’s more important to protect the rights of gun owners.

The 2017 Pew survey revealed Americans want more gun control:

89% of Americans want to restrict people with mental illnesses from buying guns.

84% think there should be background checks for private gun sales and at gun shows.

83% percent want to ban sales of guns to people on no-fly or watch lists.

But Republicans have fought these common sense ideas like Communism

Why ?

Because stoking fear, ‘free-dumb’, spite and paranoia is more politically profitable to them than selling common sense, unity, thoughtfulness and public safety.

And shameless right-wing stoking of that fear and paranoia led to a surge in deranged consumer demand of ‘bump stocks’ this week by Americans who were ‘impressed’ with the Las Vegas massacre and deranged murderer.

Several ‘bump stock’ customers suggested that demand for bump stocks was because of fear that the products could soon be outlawed, presumably limiting their abilities – and ‘freedom’ – to haul around automatic murder weapons.

The truth is that Republicans have been working against the public’s safety interests for decades while stoking America’s deranged and violent gun culture that is an international disgrace.

Instead of protecting living Americans, Republicans protect guns and ‘pray’ for dead Americans.

2nd Amendment Derangement Syndrome is no way to run a country.

NYT Pick

Lisa Murphy

Orcas Island October 6, 2017

I’m really tired of hearing that stupid phrase”this is not who we are”, to counteract all the cruel, thickheaded, destructive and bigoted ways of thinking and acting taking place in this country everyday. America this is exactly who you are. A country that thinks owning guns( to prove you’re tough) is worth the slaughter of your public officials, innocent people in movie theaters, concerts and shopping malls, and most disgusting of all the murder of little children. America you are a blight on the landscape, not a “shining city on the hill”. Tawdry, mendacious, ill educated and cowardly.

James

New Hampshire October 6, 2017

One way that might help solve this issue is to require insurance of every gun owner. Not insurance on the value of the gun, but insurance against what that gun might do to others. When the families of victims start going after the insurance companies, things would change.

NYT Pick

Virginia Fowler

Bali, Indonesia October 6, 2017

Why does everyone keep saying that gun control wouldn’t affect mass shootings? This goes against not only logic, but the facts. Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since they severely cut back on gun ownership. Countries in which it’s very difficult to buy guns, like Japan and Indonesia, don’t have mass shootings. Remember earlier this year when a guy in China went crazy and attacked a bunch of kids in a kindergarten? All he had was a knife, so no one was killed. Anyway, mass shootings are the tip of the iceberg of gun deaths. The statistics are overwhelmingly clear; less guns equals less gun deaths. Pretty simple.

NYT Pick

Joshua

Konstantin October 6, 2017

You are wrong about the NRA, their spending and their political influence.

This is the second article to minimize that influence by citing the amount they have spent on political campaigns. This is a well designed talking point that has effectively made in to what might otherwise be considered a moderate perspective on gun control.

Fact: the NRA is a top ten spender in outside activities. These activities are often election related and unambiguously intended to influence politicians even when carefully designed to not to be classified as political contributions.

The NRA also spends at least 3 times as much on lobbying as they do on political contributions. Since of this money goes to salaries to hire ex government employees to staff approximately half of the lobbying operation. Is anyone naive enough to believe that this money is not spent too influence our political system?

How did the myth that the NRA is a minor political player as measured by political contributions suddenly become a popular cause of otherwise thoughtful people? I don’t think the answer is obvious, but I am certain it’s part of their budget.

NYT Pick

David Paquette

Cerritos, CA October 6, 2017

It makes me shudder, but there is a vast amount of truth in this article. The unfortunate fact is that it makes no difference what people say they are in favor of, what makes a difference is what people do. People are in fact electing representatives that pass laws that support guns. They are buying guns in record numbers. I’m terrified, but that is the facts.

Even in California, with the some of the strongest gun control laws in the country it is illegal to buy high capacity gun magazines, but it is not illegal to own them. Thus one can just hop over the border to Nevada and buy what you want an bring it on in. No problem.

That interstate gun transport problem is the probable reason that gun control states are not as free from gun problems as one might expect.

The scariest statement in this article is this: “Gun rights are about living in a country where families are tough enough and responsible enough to stand up for themselves in a dangerous world.” There is virtually no support for this statement in facts. There are close to zero cases where one can point to the case of a gun owner successfully terminating a mass killing. In the Pulse night club shooting, the armed guard was hiding in the rest room with the rest of the patrons. In Nevada, it is simply inconceivable how any reasonable amount of armament among the concert goers could have had even the slightest effect on the number of deaths. Yet the “self protection” myth reigns.

 

If Only Stephen Paddock Were a Muslim – Thomas Friedman – NYT

“It’s also corrupt. Because it’s driven by money and greed — by gunmakers and gun-sellers and oil and coal companies, and all the legislators and regulators they’ve bought and paid to keep silent. They know full well most Americans don’t want to take away peoples’ rights to hunt or defend themselves. All we want to take away is the right of someone to amass a military arsenal in their home and hotel room and use it on innocent Americans when some crazy rage wells up inside them. But the N.R.A. has these cowardly legislators in a choke hold.

What to do?Forget about persuading these legislators. They are not confused or under-informed. They are either bought or intimidated. Because no honest and decent American lawmaker would look at Las Vegas and Puerto Rico today and say, “I think the smartest and most prudent thing to do for our kids is to just do nothing.”

So there is only one remedy: Get power. If you are as fed up as I am, then register someone to vote or run for office yourself or donate money to someone running to replace these cowardly legislators with a majority for common-sense gun laws. This is about raw power, not persuasion. And the first chance we have to change the balance of power is the 2018 midterm elections. Forget about trying to get anything done before then. Don’t waste your breath.Just get power. Start now.”

Yes, and, here are the top three comments, which I endorsed.

Jocelyn Ahlers Vista, CA 2 hours ago

I am starting to wonder whether the NRA could be called a terrorist organization, or, at the very least, a sponsor of terrorism. Terrorism is defined as the calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to attain goals that are political or ideological in nature. The ads and political monies the NRA spend deliberately attempt to convince people that the only response to mass shootings is for everyone to own weapons. At the same time, they quash any efforts to enact sensible gun control legislation, leaving the door open for anyone to amass an arsenal that can easily kill and injure hundreds. And then they circle back around to convince people that they should own weapons to protect themselves from nuts with weapons. If that isn’t using the threat of violence (enabled by lax gun control) to further a political/ideological aim, I’m not sure what is.

And none of this even begins to address the politics of race inherent here. If people of color were gathering weapons in these numbers and using them to commit heinous acts such as this… Well, I’m thinking the response would be different.

Reply 257 Recommended

NYT Pick
matteo Port Washington, NY 2 hours ago

Tom’s right on this one. We should follow the advice of the nation’s chiefs of police: register all guns like cars; require licensing exams, strict licensing policies on the municipal level; Require insurance to cover these murderous events events, thus getting insurance companies who bear financial risk to conduct investigations; automatic weapons only for Police and Armed Forces. There’s a lot we can do that’s common sense and still gives legitimate law abiding citizens the right to bear their arms.

Reply 208 Recommended

JDS Ohio 2 hours ago

I heard on the mainstream radio today that the “kit” Paddock apparently used to convert a semi-automatic weapon to an automatic one cost about $50, and are legal, at least in Nevada. Would it be too much for the NRA to outlaw these kits? Are deer hunters using automatic weapons to shoot deer? Do we need automatic weapons to defend our homes? I’m all for a sane interpretation of the second amendment; let’s have one.

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