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Too much tragedy for one thread
April 16, 2007 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I respectfully suggest that we move the gun control discussion here. If for no other reason than to limit the in-thread argument on whether or not we should be commenting on gun control in-thread.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson to Etiquette/Policy at 11:26 AM (511 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I was just coming here to suggest that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2007


Seconded.
posted by odinsdream at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2007


Wish I'd seen this before my last comment.

I hate how tragedy brings out the campaigners.
posted by dw at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2007


I was afraid to come here and suggest this. But I'm glad you did.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:32 AM on April 16, 2007


I guess, although the whole "we can't talk about anything we're not going to reach consensus on!" reasoning has never stopped us before.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:33 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is this where I can express frustration with this little gem:

An armed society is a polite society.

We could also do with fewer false, empty and stupid aphorisms like this.
posted by psmealey at 11:34 AM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I don't think a gun control debate is really needed at all right now, but I agree it shouldn't be in the thread. I did reply to a couple of people who said that less gun control would have made things safer, and dios when he said that gun control advocates were apperantly delighted.
posted by delmoi at 11:34 AM on April 16, 2007


Strongly against.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on April 16, 2007


Agreed. If we get the Mathowie blessings, we should probably link this from there with an explicit mention that it is for gun debate (some people may not click on the plain link "MeTa" because they will assume it's just a callout thread).

Probably best if Mathowie is the one who links it (if that happens), and also explains that no gun debate is permitted in that thread, as we now have a dedicated thread for it.
posted by Bugbread at 11:34 AM on April 16, 2007


I'll start: An armed society is a polite society

The 19th century wild west and the caribbean of the 18th century are good examples of polite societies.
posted by poppo at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2007


I agree, no good can come from discussing gun control in that thread.
posted by drezdn at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2007


Also, slightly off-topic, sorry, but I don't want to start a new thread for a simple question:

Mathowie, MeFi is all of a sudden really slow. Is it because the servers are getting pounded by people accessing that thread?
posted by Bugbread at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2007


*sprays room with bullets*
posted by quonsar at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


too soon, man. c'mon, really?
posted by psmealey at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2007


The 19th century wild west...

Old West violence mostly myth
posted by knave at 11:39 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Strongly against."

Of course, because you just made an egregiously provocative comment.

I think that gun control is quite relevant and that a discussion of it and other relevant things would be fine...if it weren't absolutely inevitable that people will insult each other and be intentionally provocative and generally be fuckwits. That's not having a "discussion". It's not having a discussion wherever it happens (which is often for this type of thing on MetaFilter). But in that thread it's self-indulgent of those involved and disruptive for other people.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2007


I agree, no good can come from discussing gun control in that thread.

It's like going to a funeral of a lung cancer victim, standing on a table, and loudly demanding all smokers there quit on the spot. You think the message will go over well, but in the end it just pisses everyone off.

Hell, it'd piss me off, a non-smoker whose father-in-law died of lung cancer, whose non-smoker mother-in-law is in the recovery ward right now after having a lung taken out, and whose father died at 47 from a heart attack probably brought on by 35 years of smoking.
posted by dw at 11:42 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


An armed society is a polite society.

No, no, wait - its true! Because everyone is scared shitless that, if they do something that someone might possibly construe as impolite, they're going to get their heads blown off.

A polite society, but not one I want to live in.
posted by googly at 11:42 AM on April 16, 2007


Probably for the best, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2007


Also bugbread brought up a few good points in the original thread - perhaps it would be more effective to discuss the methods of what an individual can do - rather than just stating their position on the argument.
posted by gomichild at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2007


First, I'm not so far removed from this tragedy to not be personally affected by it. But can we stop pandering to the individuals who aren't mature enough to have adult discussions about relevant topics?

I consider MeFi a great place to visit to read opposing and supporting opinions of a wide range of topics, both passive and controversial. I consider many of the regular participants in these discussions to be intelligent, rational, and worth 'listening' to.

But the frothing chorus of 'too soon' that usually follows a tragedy insults the ability of adults to carry on a discussion.
posted by NationalKato at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I vote that we start a thread discussing whether or not we can discuss how we can discuss how we should or should not discuss gun control. MetametametaTalk.
posted by mattbucher at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2007


My preferences have been lost and I am seeing the grey as grey for the first time in yonks. Weird, soothing, nearly brown grey floods me with nostalgia.

I agree this is the time to discuss, and this is the place, not the other thread. Thanks, Flo.

Sometimes anger and passion can actually provide insight (since we aren't making laws here). I mean, this is not the time for dispassion either. imo.
posted by Rumple at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2007


It's not like there actually WAS a gun control debate. A couple people said something about gun control, and then a bunch of people began the online version of hysterical shrieking about whether or not to discuss gun control. Seriously, I'm way too lazy to count, but I bet there's triple the posts about the meta-debate vis-a-vis anything remotely approaching a "debate" about gun control.

Whatever happened to these MeFi threads involving posting eyewitness accounts and unsubstantiated rumors during a crisis to keep people here updated on the actual events? This gun control business is quite the red herring.

This sort of thing is so very tragic, too. There's absolutely nothing good that can come of it. Bringing up gun control might be offensive to tragedy hating gun-lovers, but pretty soon I'm going to be hearing various people postulating how this must be God's will or something, and that will offend me far more.
posted by norm at 11:46 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Color me extremely dubious of that "rebuttal" to Wild West violence— especially because they do things like citing on raw numbers rather than per capitas.
Further, you want an armed, polite society? Take a look at Chicago in the '20s and '30s.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2007


I'm sorry, but hiding comments re:gun control on metatalk as if they are something to be ashamed of is a bullshit choice.
posted by Artw at 11:48 AM on April 16, 2007


Like I said in thread, I'm of two minds about gun control. In the end it's not a big issue for me. It was just the "HOW DARE YOU?!?!" slap-downs that rubbed me in the wrong way. Again, as I said in thread, I agree with Bugbread (and Ethereal Bligh above).
posted by brundlefly at 11:48 AM on April 16, 2007


The problem with everyone being armed is that not everyone is reasonable. Those who are reasonable, aren't reasonable all the time. [Not advocating more gun control]
posted by IronLizard at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2007


It's not like there actually WAS a gun control debate.

Seriously. There was a debate about whether or not to HAVE a gun control debate in-thread, which has now turned into a MeTa on the debate to have a debate. It's like some sort of sociological... damn, can't remember the word. It's like that snake that eats itself. Begins with an "O."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2007


“I don't understand the whole concept of ‘politicizing’ something. Everything is politicized. Everything occurs within a political context, is affected by politics, and affects politics. Whenever someone writes ‘Let's not politicize this’ I see ‘Let's decontextualize this and pretend that it happened in a vaccum so as not to make anyone feel bad.’ ”—Pope Guilty

Politicize is not the best choice of words. A better way to express the objection is to say that it's offensive to utilize certain things as a means to score partisan political points. Yeah, that's an easy and suspicious accusation to make against something someone else says that you disagree with. However, I agree with strong gun-control and I can identify some pro-gun-control comments in that thread I think are more about scoring partisan points than well-intentioned discussion.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2007


I'm still voting for the evils of Dungeons and Dragons. Laugh if you want, but you'll find out some student was playing in the steam tunnels and had a plastic sword. And a stack of Magic: The Gathering cards.

At least, that's how it worked out at my school. We had a much smaller shooting, the kid involved had been to one (1) session of the gaming club. Result: gaming club closed.
posted by adipocere at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2007


Because everyone is scared shitless that, if they do something that someone might possibly construe as impolite, they're going to get their heads blown off.

I realize that the quote in question comes from the unimpeachable Robert Heinlein, but it's just plain stupid in the real world. Look at the most armed societies in today's world: Afghanistan, the Sudan, Somalia, Colombia. Not exactly places of gentle manners, affable summers and hail fellows well met, these.
posted by psmealey at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2007


I'm sorry, but hiding comments re:gun control on metatalk as if they are something to be ashamed of is a bullshit choice.

We're not ashamed of gun control debate, we just don't want that thread to turn into a shrieking shitpile about the propriety of a gun control debate. There is a difference, and a big one.

And grapefruitmoon, it's Ouroboros, I think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2007


Various sources are reporting that the shooter had a DAO-12, which has been designated by the BATF as a Class 2 destructive device with "no sporting purpose." As a result, the weapon is not easily purchasable in the United States and requires special documentation before a civilian in the United States can obtain it. Either the shooter had the necessary documentation or was in possession of the DAO-12 illegally. Although this is no more than conjecture, the likelihood that the shooter had the proper permits for that weapon seems small. It's not at all clear to me that a handgun ban would have prevented this particular shooter from obtaining a gun or guns.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:53 AM on April 16, 2007


First, I'm not so far removed from this tragedy to not be personally affected by it. But can we stop pandering to the individuals who aren't mature enough to have adult discussions about relevant topics?

Agreed.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:55 AM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


As I said in the other thread, to actually believe juvenile slogans like "an armed society is a polite society" is to actually believe there's no plausible chance of a horrific disaster. If your personal opinions on owning guns are so simplistic they fit on a bumper sticker, you're too stupid to have one. Sorry.

This isn't some bizarre "I need to protect myself because I'm in a rough neighborhood" stuff. The only thing ANYONE knew was a guy with a gun was running around shooting people. Now imagine that, only with a few dozen people ALL carrying guns.

And this issue does need to be confronted immediately because the demands to let everyone have loads of guns have already started, and if it isn't slapped down immediately, we're dealing with another PATRIOT Act.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:56 AM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


cortex - Really? because from where I sit it seems like a tacit endorsement of the position shooting not being a gun control issue, and that anyone who argues that it is is being impolite and should be hurried off to the grey, where no-one looks.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on April 16, 2007


Metatalk is the perfect place to have a debate about having a debate...

Too me, there are two problems with having the gun debate discussion in a thread like that... The first is that like the abortion debate most people already have their opinions on the issue made up and will likely just see this event as more brief that their side is right. In the end they use the thread to just show how much they believe in their cause and trade rhetorical jabs with the flagwavers from the other side.

The other reason is that the event thread is more of a news related one, the type that brings an "eyes of the world" to places like metafilter, to let a thread which has some great details about the event including first person experiences is a dis-service to the site.
posted by drezdn at 11:58 AM on April 16, 2007


Or maybe a society that's truly devoted to protecting personal freedom will have a slightly higher crime rate. And maybe that's an okay sacrifice to make.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2007


we just don't want that thread to turn into a shrieking shitpile about the propriety of a gun control debate

Don't all threads turn into shrieking shitpile of something these days? It sounds like you're trying to manufacture a 9/11 solemnity metafilterhistory thread to show how civil and great we all are.
posted by cillit bang at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2007


to the grey, where no-one looks.

Metafilter isn't a soapbox, so why does it matter?
posted by drezdn at 11:59 AM on April 16, 2007


from where I sit it seems like a tacit endorsement of the position shooting not being a gun control issue

This isn't congress/senate/foxnews. Thanks.
posted by IronLizard at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2007


“It's not like there actually WAS a gun control debate. ”—norm

I count 19 comments that are directly advocating a gun-control position in that thread before matthowie's comment.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2007


*sprays room with bullets*
posted by quonsar


For someone complaining about sensationalistic "media hos" and "hyperbole" and "pieces of shit" in the other thread, that comment is pretty damn pathetic, quonsar.

I get it; you're probably making a "satirical" point, deflating what you perceive as being a pompous or irrelevant MeTa.

Or you're just being an asshole who could stand to think before yammering himself.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:02 PM on April 16, 2007


Artw, I can't convince you otherwise if that's your interpretation, but from where I sit it seems more like an explicit acknowledgement that stress + outrage + bad timing + ill-considered provocation can lead to a great big mess in a thread that doesn't need to be one.

And a lot of people look in the grey. And it's not a ban on gun control discussion in general. And it's not a topic we've avoided in the past in general circumstances. Etc. Considering not having an in-thread conversation and, more importantly here, raging meta-conversation, under the worst possible circumstances is pragmatism, not topic-avoidance.

NationalKato's comment strikes home, but it's both the raging arguments and the raging "too soons!" that this move responds to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2007


My own random thoughts on this based on recent events in my state...

Utah has a very large number of concealed weapons holders in this state, but none of those people were able to stop the recent massacre in Salt Lake City.

I'm personally against gun control and like the idea of conceal carry, but I don't think VT's ban on concealed weapons necessarily did anything to make this situation worse. I would think an ordinary civilian with a pistol probably wouldn't have been able to react in time. The massacre in Utah was stopped by a shopper with a gun but he happened to be an off-duty policeman.
posted by pandaharma at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2007


Maybe the answer is to delete and/or move the shrill, insensitive comments but allow the intelligent discussion to continue. It seems to me that those comments come from the same members regularly.
posted by NationalKato at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2007


that anyone who argues that it is is being impolite and should be hurried off to the grey, where no-one looks.

Except for those hundreds of people who comment here?
posted by gomichild at 12:04 PM on April 16, 2007


Just for the record, I'm going to puke the first time I hear some idiot on CNN/FOX/NBC talk about how media savvy the kids are these days in their endless exploitation interviews and what a marvel the internet is in getting so much information disseminated so quickly.
posted by psmealey at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2007


I appreciatwe your reasoning, but it still seems a lot like a ban on general discussion of gun control to me. You may not want it to be, but you've established a precedent here.
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on April 16, 2007


“Really? because from where I sit it seems like a tacit endorsement of the position shooting not being a gun control issue”—Artw

I recall one or two commenters making that argument. Most of the people who spoke against a gun-control debate did not.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2007


And grapefruitmoon, it's Ouroboros, I think.

Yes! Thankyou! That's it exactly.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2007


Metafilter isn't a soapbox, so why does it matter?

Well, Metafilter is a discussion site. To make certain topics taboo, particularly when the topic is related to other topics that aren't taboo, isn't really community advancing IMO (although the fact some topics always turn into shitpiles doesn't really help my argument).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:08 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but hiding comments re:gun control on metatalk as if they are something to be ashamed of is a bullshit choice.

It's not about 'hiding' them, anyone can see. It's about preventing the thread from being derailed.
posted by delmoi at 12:10 PM on April 16, 2007


*sets hook, reels Alvy Ampersand in*
posted by quonsar at 12:12 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


“Maybe the answer is to delete and/or move the shrill, insensitive comments but allow the intelligent discussion to continue. It seems to me that those comments come from the same members regularly.”—NationalKato

Yes, and your suggestion answers this objection:

“But can we stop pandering to the individuals who aren't mature enough to have adult discussions about relevant topics?”—NationalKato

I'm not in the "this discussion shouldn't happen at all today" camp, nor that it shouldn't happen even in that thread. But I do think the "being an asshole" ratio is going to be very high in that thread if there's a discussion of gun-control. Moderating the thread more heavily than usual would answer that problem. But there will be people objecting to that, too.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:12 PM on April 16, 2007


It's not at all clear to me that a handgun ban would have prevented this particular shooter from obtaining a gun or guns

It's not so much the specific gun types as the fetishization of them in US society as a symbol of power.

Lots of people keep and use guns with extreme respect, but in a country where portable cannons are as patriotic and commonplace as mom and apple pie when a nutcase comes unhinged chances are that's what they'll reach for.

The incrementally more severe restrictions on smoking are designed to gradually turn the habit into a socially repugnant activity. A similar path with guns would achieve the same effect.

If guns for everyone is the answer, give me an example... then, let's temper that with counter-examples.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You may not want it to be, but you've established a precedent here.

A precedent that people should take their axe-grinding elsewhere when there are dead people in close proximity of people posting in the thread? Yeah, I can live with that.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:13 PM on April 16, 2007


I think there's probably an official gun ban in Bagdad, too.
posted by Balisong at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2007


As an ignorant foreigner maybe someone could explain to me why a college student needs access to not only one but possibly two handguns. Can anyone make the argument about why there should not be gun control given the violent death rate in USA as opposed to European countries. I mean its not that we in Europe haven't had enough practice at killing each other. Neither do I understand the handwringing continuing here about whether or not to have a gun control debate. The poster has asked for one why can't we oblige?
posted by adamvasco at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2007


Thepinksuperhero, to me moving the discussion to metafilter allows the conversation to continue without derailing the original post. This is acknowledging that it can be discussed, just pointing to where it should be discussed (more than fair I think).

I don't like the idea of anyone commenting on the blue though, simply because there are more people that read there. Metafilter shouldn't be a place to find an audience for your opinions, as such, someone looking to do so would be better served by getting their own blog (with their fuckwit status in question initially).
posted by drezdn at 12:15 PM on April 16, 2007


I count 19 comments that are directly advocating a gun-control position in that thread before matthowie's comment.


Did you count the meta-debate comments, too? Can you put it in a spreadsheet?
posted by norm at 12:16 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heinlein had all the philosophical acumen of a gnat. I loved his 'aphorisms' when I was 12.
posted by OmieWise at 12:16 PM on April 16, 2007


It's about preventing the thread from being derailed.

Exactly - it's an endorsement of the position that any discussion of gun control is a derailing. Which is very odd given that no widely available firearms would equal no shooting and therefore no thread at all.
posted by Artw at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2007


It's not about 'hiding' them, anyone can see. It's about preventing the thread from being derailed.

It was not a "derail". Good lord, what else *is* there to talk about in that thread? Yet, it could be construed as *insensitive* which is why I support moving the discussion here (or, apparently, moving the discussion about the discussion) here.
posted by Rumple at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2007


A complete ban on handguns would be a nice start toward reducing gun violence. More murders are committed in the US with handguns than with any other weapon. People aren't killing each other with long guns, in general.
posted by Mister_A at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2007


this is where breathing is good.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:18 PM on April 16, 2007


On the meta-gun-control subject, the New York Times's The Lede blog just posted this:
Gun Control Subplot | 2:20 PM ET Predictably, gun control has emerged as a major subplot in this story. Under Virginia law, many college campuses are gun-free zones, including Virginia Tech. Last year, a piece of legislation sought exceptions for licensed gun owners, but it didn’t make it out of the statehouse.

President Bush’s press secretary relayed his first comments on the subject, saying that he “believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.'’ That was after he expressed “deep concern for the families of the victims, the victims themselves, the students, the professors and all the people of Virginia who have dealt with this shocking incident.”

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit observes: that “these things do seem to take place in locations where it’s not legal for people with carry permits to carry guns.” Andrew Sullivan doesn’t think this is an appropriate time to have the debate, but many other were on the other side of the argument as well, including some of our commenters below. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more on this.
Bush's (press secretary's) comment really, really pissed me off. Asshole.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:20 PM on April 16, 2007


Rumple: how about 32 fucking dead people? That might be a good topic of discussion.
posted by Malor at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2007


Thepinksuperhero, to me moving the discussion to metafilter allows the conversation to continue without derailing the original post. This is acknowledging that it can be discussed, just pointing to where it should be discussed (more than fair I think).

But Metatalk isn't a place to discuss gun control, either. It all depends on what your definition of "derail" is. To me, a discussion of gun control fits well into a post about a crime that involves guns. Just because some people would rather not talk about it does not make it inappropriate for the thread. On preview, just what Rumple said: It was not a "derail". Good lord, what else *is* there to talk about in that thread?

A precedent that people should take their axe-grinding elsewhere when there are dead people in close proximity of people posting in the thread? Yeah, I can live with that.

Mmmm, I don't know. I do hope Metafilter will be sensitive to those dealing with tragedy, but we are not a comfort station. If someone is deeply affected by a topic, it's probably best they stay away from internet discussions of said topic.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


Yes, yes, quonsar, you're quite the trolling provocateur and we're all impressed. Can we all just get a pass on the asshattery for a while? Imagine us responding with plaudits about how incisive you are or something.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 PM on April 16, 2007


...there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.

Yes, wait 'til the shooter finds out how much trouble he's in for bringing a gun into a gun-free zone. Plus all them murders he's done, too.
posted by Mister_A at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2007


> It's about preventing the thread from being derailed.

Exactly - it's an endorsement of the position that any discussion of gun control is a derailing.


No, not exactly, and that was my point (and, I'm presuming, delmoi's): we're using the word "derail" in two different ways.

You're taking "derail" to mean "discussing an unacceptable topic, e.g. gun control".

I'm using "derail" to mean "fermenting really, really ugly clashing under the noses of people damned upset by a sudden awful thing that many have more or less direct connections to".

There's no reason a decent discussion of gun control's impact on and relevance to this situation couldn't take place in that thread, but that's not what was shaping up. The desirability of a theoretical good discussion does not vouchsafe the worth of an actually shitty one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2007


Rumple: how about 32 fucking dead people? That might be a good topic of discussion.

Clearly separable from why they are fucking dead.
posted by Rumple at 12:27 PM on April 16, 2007


An armed society is a polite society.

The chorus of 'after you, Alphonse' (in Arabic) is so deafening you can barely hear the bomb blasts when you walk the the streets outside the Green Zone.
posted by jamjam at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


*nets klangklangston*
posted by quonsar at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but hiding comments re:gun control on metatalk as if they are something to be ashamed of is a bullshit choice.

No, making comments re:gun control under these circumstances, as the facts come slowly in-- which may actually be something to be ashamed of-- is the actual bullshit choice. If you're worried that not enough people read MetaTalk to make sharing your opinions here worthwhile, GYOB.
posted by hermitosis at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2007


Rumple: how about 32 fucking dead people? That might be a good topic of discussion.

Yes, let's just have a thread full of dots. Useful. If we don't talk about why someone had access to that kind of gun, when will we talk about it?

Arbitrarily limiting the discussion to prayers, dots, and "omgs" is what is juvenile.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Exactly - it's an endorsement of the position that any discussion of gun control is a derailing.

And it is a derailment of that thread. Which does not mean that this a bad time to discuss gun control, or that m, j, & c are tacitly supporting an anti-gun control position. You seem to be confusing the fact that this is a necessary debate with idea that it's necessary to have it in that thread. It isn't, and part of the reason to move the debate elsewhere is that it will be more, not less, productive outside of a thread where people are trying to get their heads around the human cost of this event.
posted by OmieWise at 12:31 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm somewhat on the fence about gun control, and thus very interested in the topic and the discussion and links some of the more intelligent and reasonable members here would provide. Moving the debate about having such a discussion here was a good move, and I'll say that I think that now is exactly the right time for someone to construct a good post for the blue.
posted by Manjusri at 12:32 PM on April 16, 2007


Yes, yes, quonsar, you're quite the trolling provocateur and we're all impressed. Can we all just get a pass on the asshattery for a while? Imagine us responding with plaudits about how incisive you are or something.

If he wasn't banned four years ago, he's not getting banned now. A pity.
posted by norm at 12:32 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh wait, it's not gun control that's the problem, it's video games. Never mind.
posted by dw at 12:32 PM on April 16, 2007


Is quonsar drunk? How far does he have to take his little game before he's banned from Metafilter? That's not a rhetorical question, either - I honestly don't know how the whole banishment thing works. I just know that his/(her?) comments just seems so out of place from everyone else here (both on the MeFi link and this one). I guess joking about 32 recently deceased people is not as bad as someone trying to sell you something? Is there, like, a time-out button where he doesn't get to post for a week or something? Or maybe he's just looking for his own MeTa thread...
posted by billysumday at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2007


I do hope Metafilter will be sensitive to those dealing with tragedy, but we are not a comfort station. If someone is deeply affected by a topic, it's probably best they stay away from internet discussions of said topic.

I agree. Completely.

If I were grieving, the Filter would be one of the last places where I looked for support. I don't think anyone here really tries to be insensitive, but everyone around here is pretty outspoken and even in the best of circumstances, opinions clash. We just can't have nice things, like a thread about a recent disaster that doesn't become a clusterfuck. Heated discussion we do well - we just don't pull off reverence very well at all. There are just too people who come to the party and end up pissing in the pool.

I hardly see this as unique to MetaFilter either - it's what happens on the interblags. Take away the immediacy of interacting with another human being, replace it with a keyboard, and you've got yourself a recipe for insensitivity.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2007


quonsar, when the fish recognizes the lure as being a cheap bit of plastic, sighs, shrugs and gets into your boat for want of anything else to do, it doesn't really count as a "catch".
But I must admit, your L'il Cap'n HatTM is darling.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:34 PM on April 16, 2007


No, making comments re:gun control under these circumstances, as the facts come slowly in-- which may actually be something to be ashamed of-- is the actual bullshit choice.

Why?

Please expand on your argument that discussing gun control after a shooting is bullshit, and your cryptic commets about "facts" coming in (I have half an idea where you are going with that, but I'd like to hear it).
posted by Artw at 12:34 PM on April 16, 2007


EB: Bush's (press secretary's) comment really, really pissed me off. Asshole.

Me too. What is this statement supposed to mean?
'Certainly, bringing a gun into a school domitory and shooting ... is against the law and something someone should be held accountable for,' [White House deputy press secretary Dana] Perino said.
Who is it that should be held accountable? Once we figure that out, will they actually be held accountable?
posted by peeedro at 12:35 PM on April 16, 2007


Artw writes "it still seems a lot like a ban on general discussion of gun control to me."

A dedicated thread expressly for the purpose of discussing gun control looks like a ban on discussing gun control??
posted by Bugbread at 12:35 PM on April 16, 2007


Balisong typed "I think there's probably an official gun ban in Bagdad, too."

Iraq = the new Godwin

Hey look, can we just create a new thread for the gun control debate to actually take place in? We now have two threads for arguing about the existence of the gun control debate.

Here's an intentionally bad idea, presented to encourage the development of new, better ideas. How about if we have permanent threads for hot-buttom issues? Whenever an interesting article looks like it's about to nosedive into an abortion argument, someone just posts "argument already in process" link to the most recent comment in the Abortion thread. Arguing continues where it left off, and the discussion about the current post continues unabated.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:35 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


To me "Derail" simply means "lead the discussian away from what most posters want to talk about" Even if it's not ugly.

I think what most people want to do in that thread is discuss news and that sort of thing. How many people died, whats going on on the ground, why specifically it happened. That sort of thing.

Having a huge flame war in that thread would prevent it from happening. That's the problem.

Sites like slashdot or digg or dailykos have threaded discussions, where talks can go way off on tangents. That has it's plusses and minuses, and in general I prefer metafilter. But when something like this happens, multiple threads can be a good thing. People who want an abstract discussion about policy can have it, and people who want a more grounded thread can have that too. I think it's a good idea.

--

As far as the gun control debate goes, it's intresting that pro-gun people are right out of the gate with "Well, if everyone had guns, this wouldn't be a problem!" Even if it had been legal to carry guns on campus, I doubt they would have done much other then add to the confusion. The guy was obviously a pretty good marksman, and frankly I think the majority of students wouldn't be carrying guns around anyway. But the police, not knowing who the real shooter was might have shot some people by accident.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on April 16, 2007


quonsar has been a bit of a dick in the metatalk thread, but his acerbic criticism of the media coverage, over in the blue, has been spot-on.

Color me morally conflicted!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2007


Please expand on your argument that discussing gun control after a shooting is bullshit,

Out of respect for the recently departed. This should be obvious to anybody raised with a shred of decency.
posted by phaedon at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


An armed society is a polite society.
posted by tadellin


Ah yes, quite right. Why, just the other day I was warming up a spot of tea with my Walther PK when Mumsy stepped from her sitting room and implored, "F. Monster, by chance do you happen to have a spare ammo clip? I am cross-stiching a sampler and simply must dot the 'I's in the proper fashion." I, being a Gentleman, produced the requested clip for her M1 Carbine and Mumsy happily finished the aforementioned sampler, pausing to reload only once.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Saucy Intruder writes "If we don't talk about why someone had access to that kind of gun, when will we talk about it?"

I dunno. Get talking! That's what this thread is for!!

For fucks' sake, we spend half the blue thread debating about whether or not we should be debating gun control, and then when we get a thread for the express purpose of discussing this topic that so many people think should be discussed, instead of moving the discussion of gun control over, instead we now spend this thread discussing whether or not this is a good place to discuss gun control.

If y'all want to talk about it so goddamn much, then Why Aren't You?
posted by Bugbread at 12:42 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


if there had been a gun control discussion in that thread, it would have looked something like this:

user1: you see?! this is why I'm for gun control! This wouldn't happen if no one had guns!
user2: there are reasons to believe otherwise.
user3: yeah, you're an asshat, asshat.
user4: don't call him an asshat, fucktard.
user5: guys guys, let's please stay on topic. the topic is that guns are evil and so are people who want to own them.
user1: well, that's not quite what i was saying.
user3: it totally was, asshat!
user6: first of all, anyone who doesn't want a gun is asking to be killed. by me.

and on and on. the desire to discuss a political pet peeve or soapbox immediately upon hearing about a tragedy is not the desire that foments rational or constructive discussion. It is a desire, however unconscious, to grind axes and adopt a self righteous pose.
posted by shmegegge at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


'Certainly, bringing a gun into a school domitory and shooting ... is against the law and something someone should be held accountable for,'

I for one am encouraged that the Bush administration is aware that dormitory shooting sprees are illegal.

With an exemption for the Executive branch, of course.
posted by brundlefly at 12:43 PM on April 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


I realize that the quote in question comes from the unimpeachable Robert Heinlein

But he didn't mean what's commonly thought. When he wrote that, it was well understood that he meant "An armed society is a society in which a man can fuck his daughter (who is also his mother) raw regularly and with great enthusiasm."

Personally I prefer the Anthony Corollary: A society in which little girls display their panties is a society in which I get to see more panties.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think the departed have other things to worry about than whether the means of their dispatch is being discussed on metafilter.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2007


Please expand on your argument that discussing gun control after a shooting is bullshit

It's like yelling at someone whose kid just drowned about pool safety. It's an important topic, clearly relevant to the situation at hand, but unless the goal is to get a lot of people pissed off, it's not the right time and place for it. We had to be really pesty about Israel threads because any thread on Irsael or Palestine would instantly become I/P Conflict threads because for people for whom those are important issues, there is no talking about Israel without discussing the conflict. That's a valid opinion to hold as an individual, but it would be nice if it wasn't the way things always went on the site.

As it is, it's almost impossible for this site to discuss certain topics without it turning into an inevitable fight. That's a shame. MetaTalk is the best place for a discussion on gun control that really doesn't belong in an ongoing live coverage type of thread abotu a shooting tragedy. It has a "nyeah nyeah" tone to most of it. We've discussed before about enforced civility and we maintain that we don't want to have codes of conduct etc. But people also need to have some internal civility monitor that tells them that thread and that topic are not suited for a bunch of gun control derails. Partly this is understanding the nature of that thread -- it's going to be more of a thread where we find out more about the event as it goes on, etc -- and partly this is understanding the site. The site is not just for fighting about hobby horse topics and some threads are not places for that sort of argumentation to happen.

This has nothing to do with my political beliefs about gun control for what it's worth.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Out of respect for the recently departed. This should be obvious to anybody raised with a shred of decency.

I don't think it's that easy. No one would start up a gun control debate in a room full of mourners, but this isn't that situation, this is the INTERNETS. We left our decency in our other pants. These pants, they just have quonsar's fish in them.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2007


.
posted by Stynxno at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2007


Most people suffer from the delusion that the appropriate response to any stimulus is to unconsciously generate and broadcast an opinion on the matter-- bonus points if it is one that reaches beyond the actual subject at hand and connects to some larger issue in a display of wisdom and advocacy.

Some people are just more capable of turning that reflex on or off at will than others, so as not to be perceived as total assholes.
posted by hermitosis at 12:45 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


If y'all want to talk about it so goddamn much, then Why Aren't You?

Because hiding the discussion here was itself a derailing move?
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2007


I also think part of the problem is the "gun control discussion" in that particular blue thread is that it hard to openly mourn and discuss the emerging facts of the event while certain soapboxers loudly condemn eachother with moral equivocations - such as "if guns were illegal, then this would not have happened. therefore, if you support the second amendment, you are partly to blame for what happened at virginia tech."

this is why claiming that this is a "particularly good time to talk about gun control" seems fucking ridiculous to me. the implied animosity, which as grapefruitmoon implies, is what the internet is all about, should be parsed out, and there's no reason why we can't argue here about it.

i personally lean towards packing some heat.
posted by phaedon at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2007


Because hiding the discussion here was itself a derailing move?

Bullfuckingshit. Put up or shut up.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:49 PM on April 16, 2007


hermitosis - maybe metafilter shouldn't have comments at all?
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on April 16, 2007


It all comes back to "don't be an asshole." The computer monitor in front of you isn't an exemption from participating in the real world.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:52 PM on April 16, 2007


As an ignorant foreigner maybe someone could explain to me why a college student needs access to not only one but possibly two handguns.

Nobody needs hardly anything. Nobody on the planet needs access to an automobile, or an aircraft. Nobody needs access to a television or telephone.

People want access to handguns primarily as frivolities or collectibles. They're neat pieces of industrial engineering, little bits of mechanical widgetry. I'm told that putting holes in targets and watermelons and the like is fun, and I see no reason to doubt the people that tell me so. Some people maintain that they own a pistol for some vaguely self-defense related reason, but these people are almost universally either delusional or unwilling to admit that they own a pistol for frivolous reasons because admitting this would be impolitic.

People have access to a handgun or two because handguns are, in the civilian population, for the most part well-regulated frivolities, much like a fast car or motorcycle. Like fast cars and motorcycles, they can also be self-evidently dangerous and kill their users and bystanders from time to time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


Artw: reading your comments made me feel like this is a very good idea.
posted by hermitosis at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2007


Artw typed "hermitosis - maybe metafilter shouldn't have comments at all?"

Comments don't kill people.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2007


It all comes back to "don't be an asshole."

Metafilter really needs this posted somewhere in calm, soothing colors.
posted by drezdn at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2007


The guy was obviously a pretty good marksman

Well, if he actually had a DAO-12 then literally everything in the general direction of the barrel would have died. If he did have one I'll be fascinated to learn how he got a hold of it. Understand that there is NO firearm in existence more suited to this kind of slaughter. I bet if you asked a dozen experts what the worst case scenario would be they wouldn't be telling you about machine guns--it would be a nut with one of these. It is really difficult for me to imagine even a legitimate law enforcement use for one of these things.
posted by well_balanced at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bullfuckingshit. Put up or shut up.

Backatcha. Loudly condemming a subject of debate and then shiting it to the grey is more likely to produce an argument over the move than the original subject. That's just how it is. Put up or shut up.
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2007


grapefruitmoon writes "I don't think it's that easy. No one would start up a gun control debate in a room full of mourners"

There are posters in that thread with connections to VT who are very likely to be in mourning. It may not be a physical room, but that doesn't mean you have to invoke the "FEELINGS DON'T MATTER ON TEH INTERNETS" card.

Creating a separate thread for those interested in this debate was a fine solution. So get cracking, people. I want to read this fucker.
posted by brundlefly at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2007


Another time, another day. And never argue after 10:00 pm, or before bedtime.
posted by buzzman at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2007


And like fast cars, they can also be put to criminal purpose fairly easily.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2007


Too me, part of the reason for not discussing gun control with regards to that thread is that no one knows enough details yet to use any of it in there arguments. What type of guns were used? Were they purchased legally? To try to use it as evidence to prove your point is to jerk your knees.
posted by drezdn at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The thing about the DAO-12 shotgun appears to just have been a wikipedia prank. No actual newswires mention it; they all say that two regular handguns (9mm and 22 cal) were recovered.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2007


I find the notion of describing a university as being gun-free or not pretty disturbing just on, you know, general principles.

Just because this is a discussion board on the internet doesn't mean people can't find some solace in sharing an emotionally charged event with others that they 'know' here. I think a lot of people have found some degrees of help at times because they were able to share the experience here. It may not be the warm and fuzzy cuddle from a close friend but just knowing others have similar feelings about something can be helpful/ameliorating/calming or the like. Not always of course but...sometimes.

And thanks malthas. It was fortunate that the gun debate was removed to here or else I might have missed your comment.
posted by peacay at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2007


Lesson learned:

When people say "discussing gun control is important right now", they really mean "it's important, but not as important as discussing the administration of MetaFilter".
posted by Bugbread at 1:00 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


monju writes:

As a result, the weapon is not easily purchasable in the United States and requires special documentation before a civilian in the United States can obtain it. Either the shooter had the necessary documentation or was in possession of the DAO-12 illegally.

Here's a picture of the DAO-12. Continue discussing "gun control".
posted by phaedon at 1:01 PM on April 16, 2007


Most people suffer from the delusion that the appropriate response to any stimulus is to unconsciously generate and broadcast an opinion on the matter.

This site, and half the internt, would not exist if this were not so. What's your point?

It's like yelling at someone whose kid just drowned about pool safety.

No, not really, although I'm sure some people would beg to differ. This is A tragedy, it is not OUR tragedy. For those who do have personal connections to this tragedy, my heart goes out to them, but we shouldn't curtail discussion just because it could upset people. The most upsetting thing about this story is that it happened. Let the discussion go where it may; if people get too upset, they should step away.

On preview: There are posters in that thread with connections to VT who are very likely to be in mourning. It may not be a physical room, but that doesn't mean you have to invoke the "FEELINGS DON'T MATTER ON TEH INTERNETS" card. Why not? It's true. This is a discussion site and not a place to come for sympathy and I think the former should trump the latter, mostly because it usually will.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:02 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Exactly, drezdn. Thats what makes it such a sore subject, I think-- it's pointless to have a debate on the matter when all we know is the bare minimum. Some people like like the sound of their own puffed-up quacking.
posted by hermitosis at 1:02 PM on April 16, 2007


"Backatcha. Loudly condemming a subject of debate and then shiting it to the grey is more likely to produce an argument over the move than the original subject. That's just how it is. Put up or shut up."

So... You don't want to talk about gun control, but rather want to bitch about moderation? Well, OK, your position was noted and dismissed. You can stop now.
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 PM on April 16, 2007


bugbread - cause and effect.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on April 16, 2007


As to the argument that this tragedy is in some sense essentially related to gun control, I think that's very questionable. These kinds of shootings are outliers and it's not clear to me that other cultural factors aren't more heavily involved than gun availability. In contrast, the numbers of suicides with guns, especially handguns, and a number of common crimes are far more relevant to the gun-control debate.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:05 PM on April 16, 2007


Artw, you can certainly disagree on here, but why cant you do it in a respectful way instead of put up and shut up?
posted by wheelieman at 1:08 PM on April 16, 2007


This is a discussion site

You keep saying that. No, it isn't. Not primarily. And if it was, it would be even more important to show some decorum in the face of such a huge tragedy.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:08 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


adamvasco writes "As an ignorant foreigner maybe someone could explain to me why a college student needs access to not only one but possibly two handguns. "

Why should he have a need greater than target shooting or the macho look they give is gun cabinet?
posted by Mitheral at 1:09 PM on April 16, 2007


ROU_Xenophobe has it exactly.


is MF acting screwy for anyone else? I'm getting lofi, server rejects, etc.
posted by popechunk at 1:10 PM on April 16, 2007


I have a headache from all this. I would enjoy reading some compelling gun control debate now.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:11 PM on April 16, 2007


ThePinkSuperhero writes "Why not? It's true. This is a discussion site and not a place to come for sympathy

Exclusively? Really? Not a community at all?
posted by brundlefly at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2007


A lot of people close to newsy incidents come here to share the little additional information they're privy to as well as to add to the lamentations. No need to make them wade through more than the usual amount of crap in order to do so-- especially since what they have to contribute to the thread is probably more relevant than OMG GUNZ SUCK AMIRITE?

It's pointless to try to protect everyone's feelings-- we're all adults here-- but certainly if something snowballs into an obnoxious derail then it should land, well, right where it has.
posted by hermitosis at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2007


You're not alone popechunk.
posted by brundlefly at 1:12 PM on April 16, 2007


There are posters in that thread with connections to VT who are very likely to be in mourning. It may not be a physical room, but that doesn't mean you have to invoke the "FEELINGS DON'T MATTER ON TEH INTERNETS" card.

Did you know that before reading the thread? Was there any way to know for sure that there were people with connections who would be reading what you said?

Also, to get back to a point that I made earlier: Would YOU post to MetaFilter if you were grieving? If so, what kind of response would you expect?

I'm not trying to advocate that people act like assholes just because this is the internet, I'm saying that this is a very different kind of social interaction from a clearly defined space that says "MOURNERS ONLY." This is, as The Pink Superhero says, a discussion site. Separating out the political from the personal into the grey and the blue is fine, but saying "Why the fuck are you talking about this ANYWAY don't you guys know that people have FEELINGS?" is ridiculous. We have feelings. We also have opinions. And this is where most of us come to share our opinions. As for feelings, I've seen enough flameouts to leave mine at the door.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


“Why not? It's true. This is a discussion site and not a place to come for sympathy and I think the former should trump the latter, mostly because it usually will.”—ThePinkSuperhero

Not that this applies to you, but I'm curious about whether any of the same people that advocate “vigorous” discussion of gun-control in that thread are those who objected to “vigorous” discussion of Kurt Vonnegut in his obituary thread. It's not at all clear to me that those who, in one thread, advocate the rough-and-tumble rationale aren't those who, in another thread, argue against people being insulting and hurtful. Maybe not. But it sure seems to me that it often comes down to whose ox is being gored.

“is MF acting screwy for anyone else? I'm getting lofi, server rejects, etc.”—popechunk

Yeah, I'm having trouble, too. Matt, is MeFi being heavily loaded and do you think it's related to the shooting thread?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:14 PM on April 16, 2007


People, the DAO-12 thing came from some schmuck on Wikipedia. OK?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:14 PM on April 16, 2007


wheelieman, it was me who said "Put up or shut up" first, in response to Artw's "Whaaa! I don't want a grey soapbox, I wanted a blue!" shtick.

It's pretty slick, actually; he gets to pretend to be the persecuted truth-teller-to-power and all it took was a little petulance and a lot of disingenuousness, without once having to back his shit up - hell, without having to even express his point in a clear, productive manner.
Bravo.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2007


This is a discussion site.

I don't know if I buy your "Metafilter: To Infinity and Beyond" argument, ThePinkSuperHero. For what its worth, I respect the people who put in the time to regulate this site. But at the same time, I get my shit deleted all the time.

I do not share your default position (anymore, at least) that just because I said it, it will stay up.

But this is all beside the point. MetaTalk is a good place to raise these meta-issues that are yes, important to talk about, and yes, arguably related to the thread. And more importantly, by isolating the people who actually want to talk about gun control - you can have a more civilized conversation about it. As opposed to getting stuck in between gears.

At the end of the day, we are all here to digest information. Let the people that own this site be in charge of how that works.
posted by phaedon at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2007


is MF acting screwy for anyone else? I'm getting lofi, server rejects, etc.

I think it's just heavy, heavy load from the big news. The lofi is probably the stylesheet include timing out on page load, for example.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2007


You keep saying that (this is a discussion site). No, it isn't.
We always discuss big news, whether it's "best of the web"or not. This shooting is not "best of the web", but it is big news that people feel compelled to discuss. And we're discussing it and that makes this a discussion site. I understand some people like to pretend it isn't, maybe so they can feel smarter than the average web user or something, I don't know.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:17 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I just thank my lucky stars that I got to see this demonstration of the Awesome Dios Mind Force:
Because it is disgusting to see people see a tragedy and immediately think "Sweet! A data point to help me argue for my preferred political view!"

Who else could divine the immediate thoughts of people he only knows as members of an internet forum? People for whom he apparently has no sympathy whatever! A truly unique talent.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:19 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


edit: You keep saying that (this is a discussion site). No, it isn't.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:20 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but what the custom css in member profiles?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2007


TPS, I was referring to the community aspect more than the links aspect, though I also meant both. I didn't make that clear.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:22 PM on April 16, 2007


*prompts strangling-Brandon-Blatcher control debate*
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm really too upset to contribute to this thread other than to suggest people read Going Postal by Mark Ames (of eXile fame). It's a well-researched (if poorly written) book on why these sorts of things happen. Random spouting about guns and laws isn't going to fix anything. Learning about how and why these things happen just might.
posted by avriette at 1:28 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm curious about whether any of the same people that advocate “vigorous” discussion of gun-control in that thread are those who objected to “vigorous” discussion of Kurt Vonnegut in his obituary thread.

I can't say as I object to "vigorous" discussion - if you have an opinion and you can express it without flinging your poo, go for it.

That said, I think a lot of us are quick to stoop the lowest common denominator in "heated" discussions. It does make things trickier, that's for sure. Anyhow, no I don't object to people voicing unpopular opinions.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 1:28 PM on April 16, 2007


well_balanced writes "If he did have one I'll be fascinated to learn how he got a hold of it. Understand that there is NO firearm in existence more suited to this kind of slaughter. I bet if you asked a dozen experts what the worst case scenario would be they wouldn't be telling you about machine guns--it would be a nut with one of these."

Actually as shot guns go it's a pretty poor choice. The magazine isn't removable so reloading is a lengthy process. And it's bulk makes it hard to conceal. A nice sawed off semi auto clip fed weapon would be a lot more appropriate.
posted by Mitheral at 1:29 PM on April 16, 2007


grapefruitmoon writes "Did you know that before reading the thread? Was there any way to know for sure that there were people with connections who would be reading what you said?"

Huh? No. I'm not psychic. I tend to, you know, read threads. I guess I'm not getting your point. I thought the discussion at hand was whether it was a good idea to move the gun control debate here. That there appear to be people in the original thread who are close to the events at hand, and are probably looking for useful info or even sympathy, is one of many good reasons for the shift.

Would YOU post to MetaFilter if you were grieving? If so, what kind of response would you expect?

No. But then again I'm a very private person. It really has nothing to do with my conception of MeFi.
posted by brundlefly at 1:31 PM on April 16, 2007


artw writes:

Please expand on your argument that discussing gun control after a shooting is bullshit, and your cryptic commets about "facts" coming in

I'm beginning to agree with other people that you are simply avoiding stating a position on an issue that you insist you state a position on.

The "facts" that are not clear:

Was the gunman a student, ie did he know his victims?

Was this a premeditated attack?

Were the weapons used bought legally?

It's not even clear what context these events have taken place in. NBC is reporting that the gunman chained the doors of the building shut. Maybe this is not an incident of just "going postal".
posted by phaedon at 1:32 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm against gun control. I'm a reasonable man who believes in the wisdom of the Framers of the Constitution. I use my guns responsibly, and anyone who says otherwise is getting filled with lead.
posted by mullingitover at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2007


If y'all want to talk about it so goddamn much, then Why Aren't You?

Because hiding the discussion here was itself a derailing move?
posted by Artw

So, Artw, how's that post for the blue coming along? You are putting together a good "Gun control: yea or nay?" post, right?
posted by rtha at 1:39 PM on April 16, 2007


President Bush’s press secretary relayed his first comments on the subject, saying that he “believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.'’

Bush believes that all laws must be followed? What an incredible shift in administration policy.
posted by grouse at 1:43 PM on April 16, 2007


phaedon - so baiscally we shouldn't discuss how easy access to firearms in american society leads to murder/suicide sprees that would be otherwise unlikely to happen on the off-chance the guy was using the super-shotgun from quake? Riiiight.

I'm getting the clear sense that some of you were hoping he was using that weapon just so you could make this argument...
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2007


As an ignorant foreigner maybe someone could explain to me why a college student needs access to not only one but possibly two handguns.

Target practice and defense of self and country are the usual arguments. Also, (this obviously doesn't apply to most college students), there are many civilians for whom handguns are daily-use items: hunters, farmers, ranchers, back-country campers, security guards, rent-a-cops, etc. Count me as chuckling at the "nobody needs a handgun" argument above -- sure, in the sense that nobody "needs" anything more than shelter and food, but there are certainly people whose handguns are practical items, not a frivolity or a collectible. I agree that they're not the majority, but they do exist.

Can anyone make the argument about why there should not be gun control given the violent death rate in USA as opposed to European countries.

First of all, let me suggest that the culture has a lot more to do with this than the guns. There are several European countries in which a comparable percentage of households own guns -- Norway, Switzerland, and Finland are all above 20% due to their national defense policy, yet their homicide statistics are mostly in line with similar countries in Europe. Canada isn't European, but they have nearly as many guns as we do, including lots of handguns, and they don't have nearly the same homicide problem. And some countries (like Scotland and Northern Ireland) have few guns and a high homicide rate. Take a look at that chart, and see if you can still make the argument that gun possession in a country has a direct relationship to its number of homicides.

That said, the main reason why gun control won't work is that America has a long history of gun ownership, to the point where that particular cat is just not going back in the bag. There are millions of legal handguns in this country. I'd guess that there are easily five thousand or more in my small town of 15,000 people. And given the American spirit of resistance and self-defense, there's no way that everyone (or even a significant portion thereof) is going to voluntarily surrender their guns to a ban. It's more likely that hundreds of thousands of guns would go "missing", thus removing even the possibility of government management or oversight. IMHO, the situation we have right now (registration, background checks, and some mostly-reasonable laws that the majority of gun owners comply with) is a lot better than what we'd have if we attempted a handgun ban -- the gun show circuit does NOT need to be any more circumspect than it already is, and we're not going to like the results if we force people to choose between their guns and criminality.

In short, trying to ban handguns in America would be like trying to ban rocks in the desert, and the last thing America needs is yet another unenforceable, Constitution-defying excuse to put even more people in prison.
posted by vorfeed at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2007 [10 favorites]


Have any of the posters in the original thread that have direct connections to Tech asked people not to talk about gun control? As a former Tech student and someone with a number of friends there, I'd like to say thank you to the righteous defenders of the emotionally traumatized, but a (possibly) inappropriate discussion of gun control is pretty low on the list of bad things happening today.
posted by Espy Gillespie at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2007




>Please expand on your argument that discussing gun >control after a shooting is bullshit,

Out of respect for the recently departed. This should be obvious to anybody raised with a shred of decency.


So after the next bombing apparently perpetrated by al-Qaeda we shouldn't talk about terrorism? All we should do is have a series of "." and "OMG 500+ people died its sooooo sad!"??

Are we all fucking children here? Do we no longer dare to speak about "big issues" that we might disagree on? Are our feelings all so fragile that we can't bare to have someone posit a different position to what we hold to be true? What the hell is going on?
posted by modernnomad at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2007


I, for one, don't think its a good time to share my "opinions" on gun control as they relate to this case, because most of the assumptions I'll end up making are totally baseless.

Talking about this, however, on Meta, I'm sure is not meant to discount your efforts to do so.

For what its worth - on philosophical grounds, I'm pro-gun, but I do support acts such as the federal Assault Weapons Ban. I don't plan on using today's events as a platform for proving my point, but let's just say if I had to wait for the other guy to make the move, I wouldn't.
posted by phaedon at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2007


You are putting together a good "Gun control: yea or nay?" post, right?

That wouldn't actually be within MeFis guidelines.

Actually if this was happening on another well-trafficed blog/discussion site I might consider posting the two threads in a post a thread about how discussion of gun control got supressed, but I beleive that would be a double.

And probably a bit of a shit thread as well.

BTW, I am in agreement that there are cultural facors involved. That discsussion of gun control is verbotten in America seems like one of them.
posted by Artw at 1:57 PM on April 16, 2007


I was just opposed to the discussion being in that thread because I thought it would devolve into shouting and insult flinging. It had nothing to do with sensitivity for the people who were affected, or decency, or whathaveyou. Same with the period where we shut down I/P threads; I don't think that was due to trying to spare the feelings of Israelis or Palestinians reading the thread, but just avoiding trainwrecks. As it stands, I'm actually surprised that the part of the discussion here that's about gun control is going as well as it is.
posted by Bugbread at 1:58 PM on April 16, 2007


Nominees for most disgusting comment about this incident:

#1: "How can I make this horrific tragedy all about me?"

Meanwhile, as someone with college age children, I am horrified, shocked, and very, very grieved.
posted by konolia at 11:27 AM on April 16


#2: "The first thing I think of when I hear 'massacre' is gun rights"

"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said"

#3 "The time is right for me to make a stale, unfunny joke!"

Let the healin blaming begin. Video games? Godlessness? Dungeons and Dragons? Neo-Nazis?
posted by adipocere at 9:47 AM on April 16


Fuck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:59 PM on April 16, 2007


From a Roanoke.com article about a bill that would have allowed CCW (concealed carry weapons) holders to carry their weapons on campus:

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
posted by chlorus at 1:59 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Artw writes "That discsussion of gun control is verbotten in America seems like one of them."

America seems to have changed quite a bit in my absence. Today, so far, I've been told that gun control, rape, and racism are all topics which are not discussed in America. When I was there, people were talking about them all the time.
posted by Bugbread at 2:01 PM on April 16, 2007


Also regarding cultural factors, it's worth pointing out the murder/suicide sprees (the guy at the UW, with a modest bodycount of 1 victim + self, but still very much in the workplace/school slayings category) was actually a British ex-pat.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on April 16, 2007


bugbread - blame Bush.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on April 16, 2007


That discsussion of gun control is verbotten in America seems like one of them.

Oh, for god's sake. Discussion of gun control in one thread on this website was strongly discouraged for reasons that are entirely neutral to the topic of gun control. If you would stop framing this in terms of supression of free speech and try to look at the practical ramifications of the topic rearing up as it was in that thread, you might be actually see some of the actual motivation for the move.

This website is not a series of dramatic lines-in-the-sand, and treating ad hoc decisions as irrevocable precedents and litmus tests all in one is ridiculous.

You know what might, if presented well, actually be a good post on the subject? A thorough examination of both sides of the debate from solid web sources, presented neutrally. The thread would probably be loud and contentious, but good presentation goes a long way, and if it was clearly presented as a good resource on the topic rather than merely a thin excuse to have it out, it'd stand.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:07 PM on April 16, 2007


#1: ‘How can I make this horrific tragedy all about me?’
Meanwhile, as someone with college age children, I am horrified, shocked, and very, very grieved.—konolia
—Optimus Chyme


Oh, come on. There's nothing offensive about that comment and it's not self-indulgent. On the other hand, making a top three list of the most offensive comments in that thread is, perhaps, a little self-indulgent.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:09 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Are we all fucking children here? Do we no longer dare to speak about "big issues" that we might disagree on?

News events like this one are experienced and commented on in real time. Any opinion born out of first-reaction and hyperbole probably isn't worth much, no matter how daring it might make one feel to express it.

In other words, talk when you have something to say, not when you feel there should be lots of talking.
posted by hermitosis at 2:11 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


That discsussion of gun control is verbotten in America seems like one of them.

You're still not getting this? What does it take? The discussion was moved to this thread becuase it was turning a current events/news thread into a philosophical argument. THIS thread was made so that you could talk about it, but all you do is whine about the moderation.
posted by Big_B at 2:12 PM on April 16, 2007


You are putting together a good "Gun control: yea or nay?" post, right?

That wouldn't actually be within MeFis guidelines.

Ok, so I was being a little flippant with the title. But to whine about not being able to debate gun control in that thread (which wasn't about gun control), and then whine about the shift of the discussion to the grey - well, as someone said upthread, put up or shut up. There are posts in the blue about "controversial" topics that are thoughtful and interesting, even if the subsequent discussion devolves into shouting and flagging. Maybe someone will make one.
posted by rtha at 2:15 PM on April 16, 2007


Otpimus Chyme: Please add this comment to your list.
posted by peeedro at 2:16 PM on April 16, 2007


Seriously, Optimus Chyme, that's a fucking lame attack on konolia for no reason. Grow up.
posted by tristeza at 2:17 PM on April 16, 2007


That discsussion of gun control is verbotten in America seems like one of them.

You're still not getting this? What does it take?


So, asides from Metafilter, do you not find that gun control being a hot button issue in America is kind of interesting? If it were any other kind of safety issue the newsmedia and politicians would be all over the pro and anti ban debate, but on guns everyone desperately tries to change the subject.

AMerica has a weird, and somewhat over-reverential, attitude towards guns and violence. That's your cultural factor.
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on April 16, 2007


Artw writes "So, asides from Metafilter, do you not find that gun control being a hot button issue in America is kind of interesting?"

This isn't snarking, but a serious language question: I thought "hot button issue" meant one that sparks a lot of discussion, not one that isn't spoken about. Was that a slip of the tongue, or is my understanding of the term wrong?
posted by Bugbread at 2:27 PM on April 16, 2007


So, asides from Metafilter, do you not find that gun control being a hot button issue in America is kind of interesting?

is the troll full now?
posted by phaedon at 2:27 PM on April 16, 2007


On Metafilter as discussion site— Yeah, it is. It just happens that it's a pretty good discussion site when it comes to esoterica or web-medium pieces, and a pretty poor one when it comes to newsfilter and shit links. CNN is a shit link. These threads are left up because the community as a whole feels there's a place for them, and stopping them has become futile (so the theory is more to contain than prevent).
But that doesn't mean that they should be encouraged or that they should be a free for all. That they exist is a practical consideration (I mean, think how often this would be posted if it wasn't there? We all saw how often the Josh Bell thing showed up, and it WAS on the front page).
And, frankly, from Artw's contributions in this thread, should we expect the gun control debate there to be handled by the highest level of minds meeting, or would it be a handful of bad faith arguments, misrepresentations, personal attacks and thread shitting? Which is more likely?
I'd also say that I agree with EB's earlier point that this isn't really a good thing for either side to hang their gun control agendas on.

Arguing that because we discuss things, it's a good idea to have a shitty, acrimonious "discussion" on this tragedy is blinkered horseshit.

(Boy, that was a long way of giving the ol' Garbage In, Garbage Out, wasn't it?)

If you want to get into it, try LJ's Debate Community where they have a thread going on this already.
posted by klangklangston at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


bugbread - you're right. Please insert whatever the correct phrase for "greivous shit-pit that anyone who wants to retain ratings/get re-elected stays the hell away from" is.

Phaedon - ?
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on April 16, 2007


Or, fuck it, discuss this.
posted by klangklangston at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2007


As a former VA resident, I can already tell you how this is going to get spun -- if the good wholesome country kids at Tech (as opposed to those librul pussies at UVA) had been allowed to walk around campus with their guns, this never would've happened. Now, first off -- the demographics at Tech have changed a lot over the past few years. The school has gotten a lot better, and downright competitive with UVA in certain regards, and a lot more suburbanites are ending up there.

I'm not hardcore on the issue of gun control. I've seen Republicans manage to pummel Democrats over and over on it, when the reality is, IMO, if someone wants to get a gun and kill, they can get an illegal one more easily than a legal one. Or a shotgun for that matter. But both sides are going to use this for their ends. That's pretty sad. As usual.
posted by bardic at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2007


Nominees for most disgusting comment about this incident:

#1: "How can I make this horrific tragedy all about me?"

Meanwhile, as someone with college age children, I am horrified, shocked, and very, very grieved.
posted by konolia at 11:27 AM on April 16


This is how some people relate to these types of tragedies -- by placing them within a personal frame of reference. It's called empathy, and it's not "disgusting" as you put it, nor does konolia's comment reflect in any way the type of ugly sentiment expressed in your mean-spirited bullshit summary quote.

Do you have some kind of grudge against konolia, or something?
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:32 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


(btw, we have three mods now, right? Why the holy fuck was quonsar's first comment allowed to stay up? They haven't even mopped up the blood yet. And he's getting his jollies. Do your fucking jobs.)
posted by bardic at 2:33 PM on April 16, 2007


“If it were any other kind of safety issue the newsmedia and politicians would be all over the pro and anti ban debate, but on guns everyone desperately tries to change the subject.”—Artw

“Gun Control Subplot”—New York Times

“[President Bush] believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.”—White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:33 PM on April 16, 2007


Ethereal - Nice fence sitting say-nothing spin from Dana there.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on April 16, 2007


« Older "This story got the large...

This thread is closed to new comments.














No, seriously. Step away from the keyboard and turn off your computer. Go outside for a walk. Hug a loved one while they're still alive. Whatever you do, stop rolling in the hurt.
posted by loquacious at 2:38 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The terrible feelings of futility and impotence that being confronted with the ease with which evil derails the ordinary business of life certainly does not bring out the best in us. I always feel it would be better to say nothing at all but that does not satisfy. Nothing satisfies.
posted by nanojath at 2:39 PM on April 16, 2007


bardic, are you talking about this?

It's a stupid and distasteful joke, sur, but it's metatalk. If there is anywhere for q to drop a weak jab like that, this is it. We delete shit from here even less than from the blue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:43 PM on April 16, 2007


Stop giving him a pass on that shit. You know that coming from almost anyone else it would have been deleted.
posted by bardic at 2:46 PM on April 16, 2007


“Ethereal - Nice fence sitting say-nothing spin from Dana there.”—Artw

I'm beginning to think you have some sort of severe mental impairment. “There is a right for people to bear arms” is unambiguously an anti-gun-control statement. There's nothing “fence sitting” about it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:47 PM on April 16, 2007


No, seriously. Step away from the keyboard and turn off your computer.

Hey look, it's the blind leading the blind!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:47 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


And yet, Optimus Chyme, you'll note that I wasn't far off the mark in terms of prediction. Jack Thompson is already blaming video games and a good portion of the post moved here because people are blaming gun control or lack thereof. I saw it in my junior high when a similar event happened. We saw it with Columbine. And it won't stop, for a decade or two to come, with 9/11.

My point remains: any incident, no matter how tragic, now provokes an automatic response of blame allocation. Whom can we sue? Nobody is asking, "What can we do to help?" anymore. Call me crazy, but, damn, it'd be nice to see people respond, just occasionally, with something that doesn't further their political agenda. Maybe a "someone should set up a memorial scholarship" or "this will take decades for the community to get past."

But, you know, nevermind. Be outraged. I guess it feels better than being sad.
posted by adipocere at 2:49 PM on April 16, 2007


Are we all fucking children here? Do we no longer dare to speak about "big issues" that we might disagree on?

I'm not a fucking child. I don't think you are either. I am able to read and participate in an online gun control debate under any background color you care to name. When I clicked this link, that's what I thought I would be getting. Instead, I got a bunch of nutters whining that they don't like the color and shape of their playpen.

All that space you guys took up writing treatises about why we shouldn't have to argue about this in MeTa could've used it...y'know...arguing in MeTa. Everyone who seems to give half a shit is reading this already, so I don't really see what the problem is.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:49 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, making a top three list of the most offensive comments in that thread is, perhaps, a little self-indulgent.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:09 PM on April 16


I didn't know that the President's spokesperson posted on MetaFilter. That's an excellent close-reading, EB. Relax; I'm sure as soon as Fred Phelps gets the news, he and his family can out-troll Bush, konolia, and adipocere. And it wasn't a top-three list; they were nominees, and thus revealed in no particular order.

I wouldn't have posted in this thread, that thread, or any thread today since the shooting if I weren't horrified by the things people have been saying. But we're all free to critique a critic's critique, and so I'm counter-critiquing your critique.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:50 PM on April 16, 2007


bardic, I don't know that at all. Pretty much nothing gets pruned in Metatalk, as I understand it, and that seems like a just response to the conflict between the functional-site argument and the free-speech-unfettered argument.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:50 PM on April 16, 2007


1. incorrect use of the term "derail?" - check.
2. incorrect use of the term "hot-button?" - check.
3. absolutely baseless assumption about media coverage of gun control laws? - check.
4. total failure to make a point, any point, whatsoever? -check.

yup, it's official. artw has no idea what he's talking about.

in other news: I suspect that this thread hasn't gone into an actual discussion of gun control laws because someone will have to come in here and be the first person to state clearly and without equivocation a position on the matter, which is rather like saying "Human Pile? I'm on bottom!"
posted by shmegegge at 2:51 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you [Optimus Chyme] have some kind of grudge against konolia, or something?

Welcome to Metafilter.

Meanwhile, I came here looking for a debate about gun control. Instead, I found one about the nuances of debating gun control and whether we ought to debate gun control in the first place. Circle-jerk if I've ever seen it.
posted by jmd82 at 2:52 PM on April 16, 2007


The "...but that all laws must be followed" bit is there to soften it out. It's a basicly a pro-status quo position without much other content.
posted by Artw at 2:52 PM on April 16, 2007


"Jack Thompson is already blaming video games and a good portion of the post moved here because people are blaming gun control or lack thereof."

And Phelps blames fags. So? Doesn't take a Weatherman on that one.
posted by klangklangston at 2:53 PM on April 16, 2007


Way to set the bar high cortex.

(btw, when do I get to be called "b" instead of bardic? Cuz that would just make my fucking week.)
posted by bardic at 2:53 PM on April 16, 2007


Nice dogpile guys. I'll leave you be.
posted by Artw at 2:54 PM on April 16, 2007


Gun control won't work. We need crazy people control. Which, since any one of us can snap, is pretty hard.

Has there ever been a case of capturing one of these shooters alive? I can't recall any, but it would interesting to hear if they were able to learn about the metal state that would prompt something like this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:55 PM on April 16, 2007


Way to set the bar high cortex.

That bar has been settling in for going on eight years now, and it's hardly a cut-and-dried issue. Please don't imply that I'm setting a precedent here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:57 PM on April 16, 2007


They haven't even mopped up the blood yet. And he's getting his jollies.

you shoulda been here for the london subway bombings, dude.
posted by quonsar at 2:58 PM on April 16, 2007


Well, this went well.
posted by brundlefly at 3:02 PM on April 16, 2007


As a former VA resident, I can already tell you how this is going to get spun -- if the good wholesome country kids at Tech (as opposed to those librul pussies at UVA) had been allowed to walk around campus with their guns, this never would've happened.

My experience with non-combat trained gun wielders (drug dealers in North Philly) is that in firefights they tend to panic, point in a general direction and start squeezing. It adds indiscriminately launched metal to the atmosphere, and not much else. In this case, with people so tightly clustered in space, more guns almost certainly would have increased the carnage, as they often do on the streets.
posted by The Straightener at 3:07 PM on April 16, 2007


Way to set the bar high cortex.

It's the same bar that has always in here. Please don't come in saying "do your fucking jobs" if you don't know what they are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:10 PM on April 16, 2007

Optimus Chyme: Nominees for most disgusting comment about this incident:
See, personally, this was my favorite (emphasis my own):
Gnostic Novelist: I'm not saying it isn't a tragedy, and my heart goes out to the family members, etc, I'm not talking about them
It's the "etc" that just reeks of sincerity- or wait, by sincerity I mean sociopathic tendencies, as in faking empathy by reciting a line that he knows you're supposed to say without actually feeling the emotion behind it, with a line like "of course I am deeply saddened, blah blah blah".
klangklangston: Or, fuck it, discuss this.
Wow. just... wow. How did they get that up so fast, anyway? It's either horribly disturbing or an incredibly jaded but accurate parody, or both.
modernnomad: Are we all fucking children here?
Now wait just one minute, that's a vicious rumor that has already been disproved in a court of law, and you have no photographic evidence to prove anything anyway!!!
posted by hincandenza at 3:14 PM on April 16, 2007


Or, fuck it, discuss this.

Someone (most likely the same people) made a similar page hours after anna nicole smith died. Hopefully they'll get hit by a bus soon and it won't be a trend.
posted by puke & cry at 3:16 PM on April 16, 2007


Please don't come in saying "do your fucking jobs" if you don't know what they are.

"Moderator." Guess we have different definitions or something.
posted by bardic at 3:18 PM on April 16, 2007


We always discuss big news, whether it's "best of the web"or not.

Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate whether we should discuss big news on the blue.

Yes, yes, I know, the 9/11 thread. But here's the catch: Wikipedia in 2001 was a far cry from what it is today. Does Wikipedia do a better job at collating information from various news sources than MeFi does?

Note the following, on the Wikipedia article on the shootings. 1) It's semi-protected, so anonymous or recently-registered users can't edit it, reducing the vandalism (and even before it was semi-protected, vandalism was quickly reverted. 2) The DAO-12 misinformation, though it came from a Wikipedia edit, should have stuck out like a sore thumb to any savvy reader as an uncited statement in an article that was already, at that point, pretty thoroughly cited (on a sentence-by-sentence basis, no less), and it was removed in under three minutes.

As far as "sharing information," which is a commonly cited defense for major news event threads, I'm not sure MeFi has anything to offer that Wikipedia doesn't - if it's from a reliable source, it can go in Wikipedia; if it's not, do we really want sheer speculation and rumor here?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:19 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm as saddened by the events of today as anyone, but I can't honestly say I'm shocked. I turn on the news everyday fully expecting to hear that something unspeakable has happened somewhere. It's probably a byproduct of having been bombarded with stories like this from the media since birth to the point of numbness.
posted by jonmc at 3:21 PM on April 16, 2007


Guess we have different definitions or something.

I guess. We seem to be leaning toward "how things have been done traditionally and, where possible, transparently".

You seem to be working with "how I want things to be done in this instance, and step lively".

How is this inconsistent with historical moderation practices on Metatalk?
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:23 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by cortex How is this inconsistent with historical moderation practices on Metatalk?

The sense of entitlement and the implied "I should have your job because I think I'm better at it than you."
posted by fandango_matt at 3:28 PM on April 16, 2007


if a debate over gun control was considered inappropriate for that thread, shouldn't the current debate over why people aren't getting upset over the equivalent no of dead in iraq or car accidents also be considered inappropriate?

the first debate was emotional and perhaps unthinking

this second debate seems more like trolling to me ... and i think we were doing better with the first one
posted by pyramid termite at 3:36 PM on April 16, 2007


The second debate is showing surprising legs, yeah. A lot of people have asked Gnostic Novelist to drop it, and someone just dropped a link to this thread, so hopefully hints will be taken.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:40 PM on April 16, 2007


I know this is bad to say, but I'm really glad it wasn't a Muslim. That would have really been a disaster.
posted by delmoi at 3:47 PM on April 16, 2007


(er, not that this isn't a disaster, I just mean the post event political fallout would have been far more divisive)
posted by delmoi at 3:48 PM on April 16, 2007


Yeah, I posted a couple of metacoments in the blue that should have been posted here. Mods, IMHO, you should be moderating the fuck out of that second metadebate, on both sides. GN isn't gonna stop no matter how many like-minded people advise him not to, and the weepy brigade is going to get increasingly rude and flamey. It can't possibly wendell.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:51 PM on April 16, 2007


this second debate seems more like trolling to me ... and i think we were doing better with the first one

It's just so badly and inappropriately put. It's actually a debate I think needs had. Why has my local news broadcast been basically hijacked by this awful tragedy when other equally awful tragedies are happening probably closer to my doorstep? Another poster in Amsterdam mentioned the same thing. I just didn't think it was right to mention it on that page.

There's a time and a place.
posted by twistedonion at 3:51 PM on April 16, 2007


umm, we don't really know that yet, delmoi
posted by pyramid termite at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2007


Goddamn, Every so often I read a post that makes a lot of sense. This has happened a few times. And just as I'm nodding, going yeah, I realise it was written by jonmc. Now, why should I hate myself 'cause jonmc makes good posts? Does it mean I am in love with him. If so, why do I never say hi? Is this too tragic a post to be polite?
posted by Elmore at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


the post event political fallout would have been far more divisive)

I can't wait for the post event political fallout after Cinco de Mayo.

(De La Hoya is gonna get his ass kicked.)
posted by phaedon at 3:52 PM on April 16, 2007


I know this is bad to say, but I'm really glad it wasn't a Muslim. That would have really been a disaster.

That's already happened. Twice, if you count the Washington snipers (though they seem to me to be a different kind of nut).

TBH the media coverage wasn't nearly as stupid and racist as I would have expected, though predictably any suggestion that not giving guns to crazy people might be a good idea was backgrounded.

[/resumes silence]
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2007


Yeah, bash the press all you like, but these rote trollish debates are largely a product of the lack of information being disseminated. If we were privy to more details, we'd at least be enjoying some more targeted and origianl sweeping gerenalizations nd histrionics.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2007


Elmore: Welcome

My wife made Kool-Aid. Help yourself.
posted by jonmc at 3:56 PM on April 16, 2007


this second debate seems more like trolling to me ... and i think we were doing better with the first one

It's inevitable, though, an unwelcome aspect of human nature. Any time there is a discussion about a current and unfolding tragedy, there's always someone that just can't restrain himself from reminding us of a bigger one. I'm not sure if the motive is self-importance or something less sincere, but it happens every single time.
posted by psmealey at 3:57 PM on April 16, 2007


It's just so badly and inappropriately put. It's actually a debate I think needs had.

that may be, but it seems that the only time we ever have it is when something like this goes on
posted by pyramid termite at 3:57 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by Elmore Is this too tragic a post to be polite?

Not at all. This isn't Klingon, it's MetaFilter. Today Is A Good Day To Say Hi.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:57 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by jonmc My wife made Kool-Aid. Help yourself.

OMG IT'S JONMCTOWN



kidding dude
posted by fandango_matt at 3:59 PM on April 16, 2007


It's just so badly and inappropriately put. It's actually a debate I think needs had.

that may be, but it seems that the only time we ever have it is when something like this goes on


That, and it seems it more a vehicle to promote the commentor's virtue, and less to explore or analyze why people act that way. (Personally, I think it's kind of obvious, but I could be wrong.)
posted by Snyder at 4:00 PM on April 16, 2007


Come to me, my babiez....
posted by jonmc at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2007


Kool aid, Cheers! I'll spill my wine for alls of yez.
posted by Elmore at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2007


that may be, but it seems that the only time we ever have it is when something like this goes on

I think it's a very good time to have it but it does belong in it's own thread, same with the gun control issue in the US. I think the best thing the UK did after the Dunblane shooting in Scotland was to ban guns. I felt like pointing it out in that thread but didn't - the main reason was out of respect but also because I understand the nature of Metafilters Geographic bias.
posted by twistedonion at 4:04 PM on April 16, 2007


Anyone drinking cocktails? Anyone for Monkey Glands?
posted by Elmore at 4:08 PM on April 16, 2007


Re: Desirability of discussion of big news on Mefi:

Yes, yes, I know, the 9/11 thread. But here's the catch: Wikipedia...

I'll put us up against Wikipedia in this instance. There are three, possibly four things that I can think of off the top of my head that set us apart. First, unlike Wikipedia, there's room in a Mefi thread to debate the merits of a given assertion. (That's not quite what a Wikipedia talk page does.) Second, affected Mefi members can request specific information, and our resident Google-mad semi-pro reference squad is fairly likely to be able to go out and find it. Third, for longtime/heavily involved members, its possible to evaluate comments basted on posters' known expertise and proclivities. Third-and-a-half is, this really is commmunity-- and if I were trying, long distance, to get information about a tragedy in which I had a stake, I think it'd be sort of comforting to get it from a source that's peppered with empathetic condolence notes from Konolia and little "."s from the people whose snark pisses me off, cracks me up, and saves me from boredom at the office every day.

Just sayin'.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:11 PM on April 16, 2007


Monkey Glands

3 parts Orange Juice
1 Part Gin
Splash of Pernod
Splash of Grenadine
posted by Elmore at 4:14 PM on April 16, 2007


here are many civilians for whom handguns are daily-use items: hunters, farmers, ranchers, back-country campers, security guards, rent-a-cops, etc.

Those people may use handguns, but they don't need them. In almost every situation, a long gun is a more accurate and efficient choice. Handguns were designed to kill humans and to be portable.(They have the added benefit of being concealable, although that's just serendipity.) Except in very rare circumstances they are a compromise, both in power and accuracy.

My personal view is ban all handguns and let people have all they long guns they want. It's wishful thinking, though, because all the handguns out there already represent one huge fuckin' genie that's already out of the bottle.

The only option left, as I see it, is to severely punish people who misuse their right to safely own and use guns. The problem, unfortunately, is that most of the wingnuts who have the balls to go on a rampage with a gun don't have the balls to face the music for their actions, and take the chickenshit way out.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:14 PM on April 16, 2007


Thanks to vorfeed for bringing in some substantive discussion.

Canada isn't European, but they have nearly as many guns as we do, including lots of handguns, and they don't have nearly the same homicide problem.

Actually, firearms ownership is significantly lower and and handgun ownership is much, much lower in Canada. Stats: There are an estimated 7.4 million firearms in Canada, about 1.2 million of which are restricted firearms (mostly handguns). In the U.S., there are approximately 222 million firearms; 76 million of the firearms in circulation are handguns. The US population is about 10 times the Canadian population, while the number of handguns in the US is about 70 times the Canadian number.

For homicides not involving firearms, the US rate is about twice the Canadian rate. For homicides involving firearms, the US rate is about eight times the Canadian rate. For homicides involving handguns, the US rate is about 16 times the Canadian rate.

That said, I tend to agree with Ethereal Bligh: As to the argument that this tragedy is in some sense essentially related to gun control, I think that's very questionable. These kinds of shootings are outliers and it's not clear to me that other cultural factors aren't more heavily involved than gun availability. In contrast, the numbers of suicides with guns, especially handguns, and a number of common crimes are far more relevant to the gun-control debate.

We've had a number of school shootings in Canada: Ecole Polytechnique, Concordia, Dawson College.

Personally, I think discouraging handguns is a good idea, but it's not necessarily going to prevent school shootings.
posted by russilwvong at 4:17 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Since this is the debate thread........

I grew up in Edmond, OK. Home of the original "going Postal". That was 21 years ago (1986). We all talked 'bout gun control. Victims/survivors got a memorial.

Then in 1993 some krazy shit went down in wacky Waco, with the rock-star jesus vs. the ATF (with FBI tank backup. Lotsa firepower on both sides. Great TV coverage in the early days of 24/7 competing news stations. Enthusiastic debates ensued. A memorial stone was erected at the site.

Later I lived in OKC in 95 and heard/felt the bomb and its effects both physical and emotional. Again, lots of discussion, some changes in building access and security, and a memorial.

But then Columbine in 99. Lotsa talk about videogames, more vigorous gun control debate. WalMart still sells ammo. Student/victims/families got a memorial.

--Insert 9/11-- (got a war, but no memorial yet)
--Insert Katrina-- (recovery yet?)

And today VA Tech.

.

Horrible. Obscene. Sad. Pointless. There will be a lot of talk, some rigorous debate, and a memorial will be erected.

I guess what I get from all of this is SHIT HAPPENS! Can't we agree, based on events in the last quarter century in USA, that NO amount of debate is going to change that. SHIT HAPPENS! You cannot count on the authorities, the government, the administration - there will always be gaps in coverage. SHIT HAPPENS! Cover your own ass as best you can. Help others cover theirs when possible. SHIT HAPPENS! Live every moment as if it is your last, but be on guard at all times. SHIT HAPPENS!

Honor the dead by living.

Oh, and strike the name of the assailant from existence forever.
posted by HyperBlue at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


The gun buybacks would be absolutely impossible.

First, there'd have to be an accurate census, taking into account not only licensed but unlicensed firearms. I can think of a dozen reasons why that wouldn't work, but even if you were able to effect a 95% accurate census, the remaining 5% would be in the hands of people who had serious reasons to hide guns from the census-takers (I'd speculate that at least a few non-cooperators would be criminals, and at least a few of the remaining guns would have been used to commit a crime).

But even going by that unrealistic estimate, what next? The government buys back guns through police departments. That's a staggering number of guns, and a staggering amount of money. In the case of unlicensed firearms, a flat rate might be appropriate. But for licensed guns, a market value for the particular weapon would be appropriate (I guess it'd work like eminent domain). With an impending buyback of all these guns, though, the market value of privately owned weapons would surge, and the government just wouldn't be able to afford all those inflated firearms.

The government would be playing with matches if it chose to buy back guns at less than market value or work out some scheme by which all existing privately owned firearms were made illegal and subject to confiscation. There would be too many police raids on too many homes, where the homeowner is known to be armed and thus presumed dangerous. It would be a mess.

A blanket buyback is totally unfeasable. Sure, you might say, why is he on about buybacks? Because sound, sane gun policy based on blanket bans of certain firearms is useless if existing privately owned weapons are still out there. Many guns used in crimes are unlicensed or stolen. Many gun owners have old weapons that are just as effective and lethal as banned gun types but aren't banned themselves. Quite a few of the banned gun types are banned under false notions of how deadly they actually are; some are banned on cosmetics alone.

So it's a situation that has loads of folks wringing their hands, but government and police agencies unable to effect a change even if they wanted to. The only way to truly control guns would be to gather them all up and give some back to the responsible people, with heavy restrictions on their use and keeping. But that's impossible: Pandora's box is open, guns are out there, and there's little we can do to make them safe. You'll sooner corral a dust storm.
posted by breezeway at 4:25 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Take it fwiw, but it sounds as if this guy killed 32 people with a 9 mm and a .22. I can't believe he could have done that without military training of some sort. He also would have had to take some conspicuous moments to reload clips in both weapons. If this wasn't well-planned and deliberate, he's one lucky shot.

I'm not trying to say that some brave soul should have rushed him or anything, but if law enforcement was on campus for the first shooting at 7:15 AM, along with the standard campus security presence, there's going to be some serious blowback here.
posted by bardic at 4:31 PM on April 16, 2007


I guess what I get from all of this is SHIT HAPPENS! Can't we agree, based on events in the last quarter century in USA, that NO amount of debate is going to change that. SHIT HAPPENS!

Agreed. Sometimes we just have to face the fact that despite our best efforts we inhabit a chaotic universe and that there's ultimately not a whole lot we can do about that.
posted by jonmc at 4:32 PM on April 16, 2007


"Personally, I think discouraging handguns is a good idea, but it's not necessarily going to prevent school shootings."

This is very similar to what I wanted to say. To me the issue isn't "why did this guy have a gun?" or even "did having a gun cause this tragedy?" The issue is that we have individuals in our society who are so alienated, so divorced from human society that they would contemplate shooting even one person, let alone 50. As much as we all have personal responsibility for our actions, I think we also have a societal responsibility to reach out to each other. One second of compassion might have made the difference.

I find the fact that people can even joke about this event and others like it totally appalling.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:34 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


(small note: I deleted Gnostic Novelist's last trollish comments and the blowback from them and gave them the day off because they're not getting the memo on that MeFi thread).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:35 PM on April 16, 2007


There's already a pretty pathetic track record in place for urban buy back programs. Rusty old bullshit that won't even fire, shit pounded flat and found in vacant lots...you give poor people a $100 incentive to produce a firearm and there's a lot of firearms that will get produced but not likely anything that's still usable and desirable to the people who perpetrate gun violence.
posted by The Straightener at 4:36 PM on April 16, 2007


I find the fact that people can even joke about this event and others like it totally appalling.

Welcome to our delightful community.
posted by bardic at 4:37 PM on April 16, 2007


You're right. We simply cannot have enough cloyingly overwrought electronic hand-wringing. Bring on the e-sympathy cards.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:40 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


mathowie writes "gave them the day off because they're not getting the memo"

When you say "they", that means Gnostic and who else?
posted by Bugbread at 4:40 PM on April 16, 2007


I think he means "they" as a neuter singular pronoun.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:42 PM on April 16, 2007


fandango_matt writes "You're right. We simply cannot have enough cloyingly overwrought electronic hand-wringing. Bring on the e-sympathy cards."

I wasn't aware that the sole choice consisted of "making fun of tragedy" or "cloying overwrought electronic hand-wringing". You'd figure there'd be more choices, wouldn't you?
posted by Bugbread at 4:42 PM on April 16, 2007


Take it fwiw, but it sounds as if this guy killed 32 people with a 9 mm and a .22. I can't believe he could have done that without military training of some sort. He also would have had to take some conspicuous moments to reload clips in both weapons.

He also could have had high-capacity ammunition clips which, thanks to Congress not renewing the Assault Weapons Ban, could be legally purchased anywhere in the country.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2007


cortex writes "I think he means 'they' as a neuter singular pronoun."

Ah. Yeah, that shoulda been clear to me. Sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2007


If this is where we have the gun control debate, I only want to say that I cannot fucking believe that the FIRST WORDS in Bush's supposed official statement on this event were "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but ...".

You want to talk about starting a gun control debate where and when it is inappropriate, there you go. Why even mention it? They might just as well have said "Okay, 30, 32 dead, yeah, but don't go all gun-control on us over this, because that just ain't happening. Terror. Freedom isn't free."
posted by yhbc at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


fandango_matt writes You're right. We simply cannot have enough cloyingly overwrought electronic hand-wringing. Bring on the e-sympathy cards.

Or assholes, apparently. Thanks for doing your part.
posted by bardic at 4:44 PM on April 16, 2007


He also could have had high-capacity ammunition clips which, thanks to Congress not renewing the Assault Weapons Ban, could be legally purchased anywhere in the country.

Agreed.
posted by bardic at 4:45 PM on April 16, 2007


Take it fwiw, but it sounds as if this guy killed 32 people with a 9 mm and a .22. I can't believe he could have done that without military training of some sort. He also would have had to take some conspicuous moments to reload clips in both weapons. If this wasn't well-planned and deliberate, he's one lucky shot.

Apperantly he chained the doors of the building closed before firing. It sounds like it was pretty well planned.
posted by delmoi at 4:46 PM on April 16, 2007


Right, The Straightener, that's what I'm saying, it's the guns that are out there that are the threat; no blanket bans on buying new assault rifles will change that, and the idea that these blanket bans on certain types of firearm are "gun control" is rendered laughable by the millions of uncontrolled, perfectly lethal weapons already out there. Gun control is a battle that we've already lost, unless we develop armor-plated skin or declare martial law and hire enough thugs to bust down every door in the country and search until the last firearm is found. Neither is likely.
posted by breezeway at 4:53 PM on April 16, 2007


On the subject of gun control, I'd like to suggest that it wouldn't have necessarily helped in this case. The perpetrator was almost certainly an engineering student from the school. He probably had access to at least one well-stocked laboratory and significant training in chemistry. It's almost a certain bet he had internet access.

If he hadn't been able to get guns, he would have almost certainly been able to improvise a bomb, a fire, or possibly even a mass poisoning.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:53 PM on April 16, 2007


You can't just "uninvent" the gun. Given human nature, I don't see how buybacks or a ban could change anything.
posted by frecklefaerie at 4:54 PM on April 16, 2007


There are many civilians for whom handguns are daily-use items: hunters, farmers, ranchers, back-country campers, security guards, rent-a-cops, etc.

Those people may use handguns, but they don't need them. In almost every situation, a long gun is a more accurate and efficient choice.


I very strongly disagree. If long guns were "a more accurate and efficient choice" for rent-a-cops and security guards (not to mention police), they'd carry them as their primary weapon. They don't. Mainly because the very idea is ridiculous. Yes, that's just what you want for guarding something in a civilian setting: a weapon that's big, bulky, difficult to carry in all situations throughout the day, and so powerful that it's likely to either shoot right through the bad guy and three buildings over to boot (rifles) or obliterate not only the target, but everything else in a one-foot diameter around the point of aim (shotguns). The very compromise you mentioned (portability instead of power and accuracy) is what gives handguns their working niche.

And as for hunters, farmers, ranchers, etc., they often carry rifles or shotguns, for the reasons you listed. But they also carry handguns from time to time, because they're a lot easier to carry and use. Portability sometimes beats efficiency and accuracy.
posted by vorfeed at 4:56 PM on April 16, 2007


breezeway: A blanket buyback is totally unfeasible.

What might work better would be a long-term policy with the objective of discouraging handguns, rather than trying to buy back and ban handguns across the board, overnight. Look at public safety messages, advertising, publications for gun owners, gun manufacturers and importers, taxes and regulations.

Looking at the problem as a public health issue (as EB suggested), and comparing the US and Canadian stats, you don't need to get rid of handguns entirely to have a positive effect; you just need to reduce the number of handguns in circulation by a significant amount.
posted by russilwvong at 5:00 PM on April 16, 2007


We're not going to be able to undo guns, but we can do our best to provide some controls. I've heard some bars check everyone's license, and refuse service to anyone who doesn't have one, regardless of age. Why? Because sketchier customers often have license problems.

It seems to me there must be some way to make handgun ownership unappealingly difficult for the more monstrous elements of our society. Close down the loopholes for gun shows. Make gun owners responsible for having gun safes and trigger locks, so that so many guns don't get taken during burglaries and put on the streets. Anything that makes gun ownership still possible for the responsible, but a colossal pain in the ass for the irresponsible.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:08 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


breezeway--

I agree with you that eradicating hadguns would be a very difficult thing, and I'm not saying that we can easily bundle up all the extant ones and turn ourselves into Sweden by 2010 or anything.

I do however think that the widespread availability of weapons that allow people to kill at a distance contributes to the problem of violence in our society. As this article discusses, the further a person is from her intended target, the easier it is for her to overcome her resistance to killing, and to do the deed. And that, coupled with teenagers' organic disposition toward low impulse control creates a serious problem. To my mind, it's very much a nuts-and-bolts problem, a point at which technology and neurolgy intersect in a particularly disasterous way. As such, I think that reducing the availabiliy of handguns is a project worthy of the investment of both dollars and years. (It seems to me that mass shooters are disporportionately young, though I'd be happy to be corrected about that, if someone's got actual statistics.)

I do think that law enforcement should have access to handguns, but ideally, their access to them should be limited the way their access to private spaces is restricted-- access would be allowed where there was probable cause to believe them necessary, or where an exigency was present. But it I do understand that a national disarmament would have to be very well underway in order for that to be feasible.

(I just reread this. God, I sound stuffy. I don't mean to-- I start citing stuff and the lawyer in me comes out.)

(And also, I should note that I'm a handgun owner. But mine could be easily pried from my non-cold, very-much-alive fingers, as part of a national or local buyback, etc.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I very strongly disagree. If long guns were "a more accurate and efficient choice" for rent-a-cops and security guards (not to mention police), they'd carry them as their primary weapon.

That's why I said in almost every situation. They carry sidearms for portability (and note that they are holstered and in the open). But I guarantee you, if a cop has time, he's gonna grab the shotgun out of the cruiser.

Notice what the police all over the VT campus were carrying? Most definitely not handguns.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2007


frecklefaerie writes "You can't just 'uninvent' the gun. Given human nature, I don't see how buybacks or a ban could change anything."

I dunno. Short term, I agree. However, guns don't work forever. A banning of guns now might result in a long, gradual, but cumulative decrease in gun violence as the guns out there get older and less reliable. Maybe my grandkids would have less to worry about.
posted by Bugbread at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2007


The number of handguns in US society has nearly no bearing on the number of killings in the US.

It's your culture that causes it, not your handguns.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:13 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


He also could have had high-capacity ammunition clips which, thanks to Congress not renewing the Assault Weapons Ban, could be legally purchased anywhere in the country.

While the shooter probably did use high capacity clips, this particular statement is not correct. Several states passed their own AWB in conjunction with the Federal law. So despite the Federal ban having expired it is still illegal to purchase magazines with a capacity higher than 10 rounds in California. I believe this is also true in several other states including Hawaii, Massachusetts, and NY.
posted by nerdcore at 5:14 PM on April 16, 2007


palmcorder_yajna writes "I just reread this. God, I sound stuffy. I don't mean to-- I start citing stuff and the lawyer in me comes out."

Huh. And I was thinking just the opposite: "That's a nice, clear comment".
posted by Bugbread at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2007


This kind of event brings to everyone "terrible feelings of futility and impotence" as nanojath puts it. Which may explain why the like of qonsar or Artw and a few others try desperately to exert some kind of power by crapping in this thread and on the mods (who, for them, represent power). It's so pathetic that you would want to give them a hug if they weren't so smelly.
posted by bru at 5:16 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by bardic Or assholes, apparently. Thanks for doing your part.

Too bad you've cornered the market.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's your culture that causes it, not your handguns.

I mean, I kind of agree. There's something in the water here. But a platitude like this doesn't really get us anywhere.

Again, take if fwiw, but Olbermann is reporting that the shooter was a Chinese national here on a student visa.

Which makes nationalistic pronouncements like this one even more useless.

I guess I'm at the point where I'd say, to someone arguing that gun-control doesn't work because if someone is going to find a gun and kill, they'll do it no matter what -- thank the fucking lord he didn't have access to an assault rifle or a sub-machine gun. Because he could have easily made it into triple digits. Truly insane.
posted by bardic at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


More gun control might very well have lessened or averted this tragedy. Or it might have done nothing, there's no way to know. I am personally in favor of them (mostly) regardless.

But the thing is, I just don't buy into arguments using the emotional, anecdotal appeal of a tragedy, especially a recent one. It's not a fair or valid way to argue for your cause.

It's the same as, "you don't support the Patriot Act? Then I guess you don't care about the 3000 Americans who died on 9/11?" You're shooting from behind bulletproof glass, because no one can refute your argument without sounding like an uncaring, callous asshole who wanted the tragedy to happen.

By the same token, I don't buy the "read about this soldier who died/got bad hospital care etc" stories as arguments against the war. Anecdotes are just that, anecdotes. They shouldn't be substituted for well-reasoned arguments.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


The number of handguns in US society has nearly no bearing on the number of killings in the US.

It's your culture that causes it, not your handguns.


Wow. Do you have any sort of evidence or even an attempt at an argument to back up that nonsense?

Also you forgot to work in the following: "Britney Anna Nicole Bush is dumb American Idol FOX network rednecks red states fundies."
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks Bugbread. (I always sort of feel like I sound like The Comic Book Guy when I make serious posts. I should probably just get over it.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2007


I agree with Mitrovarr on this one. Based on what has been discussed so far, this guy seemed bound and determined to kill a bunch of people. You can't really defend against that kind of thing very well. No access to firearms may have made it a bit harder for him, but it would have been by no means impossible for him to kill many more people than he did with a suicide bomber style attack.
posted by concreteforest at 5:23 PM on April 16, 2007


Looking at the problem as a public health issue (as EB suggested), and comparing the US and Canadian stats, you don't need to get rid of handguns entirely to have a positive effect; you just need to reduce the number of handguns in circulation by a significant amount.

Fwiw, the Swiss are also a good example that backs up your statement. I don't want to get involved in a gun control debate, because I neither support the NRA nor the people that advocate gun control. There is a larger issue here...it's a much more complex and daunting socialogical issue in our country that we could spend years hammering out. You see this issue at its worst however, across the ocean in Iraq. And you see its best, with countries like Canada and Switzerland...figure out what makes it work with those countries and we're on to something, otherwise all the arguing over gun control and missing the bigger picture isn't getting us anywhere and it never will.
posted by samsara at 5:25 PM on April 16, 2007


I actually think that banning guns is practical. A model would be the war on drugs. The war on drugs is a miserable failure, of course, but most Americans still support it.

I think a "War on Guns" Similar to the "War on Drugs" has a greater chance of success then the WoD for a couple of reasons.
1) It's harder to conceal and smuggle guns then it is drugs. They show up easily on x-rays and metal detectors. They're big and heavy.

2) Drugs are much more desirable then guns. Drugs are physically addictive and directly pleasurable, while gun nuts mostly enjoy weapons as a hobby, it doesn't give them the same direct pleasure. People might risk jail for something they're chemically dependant too, but not a hobby. Gun nuts can probably channel their desires into fast cars or motorcycles.

3) Most gun enthusiasts make a big show of how "Law abiding" they are, and love of guns is associated with the Right-wing authoritarian mindset. Those people are obviously going to more inclined to follow laws, even if they disagree with them.

4) Especially in terms of keeping Guns out of the hands the casual person who might flip out one day and shoot up a school: They probably won't have any friends with access to weapons, since the vast majority of people are simply not interested in shooting illegal weapons for fun, the "social" distribution networks won't exist.
The question isn't whether or not weapons would still be around, the question is how easily accessible they are. The mob and members of large gangs would probably still have them, but those kinds of people are not going to go on crazy shooting sprees, most gang violence is directed towards other gang members, and most criminals mostly only kill other criminals.

I'm not saying I Want to do something like that Frankly I just don't think it's politically possible at this time or worthwhile from a public safety standpoint at the expense of liberty. I'm just saying that gun control probably is possible.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm against gun control. I'm a reasonable man who believes in the wisdom of the Framers of the Constitution. I use my guns responsibly, and anyone who says otherwise is getting filled with lead.
posted by mullingitover


epony-weird, that was.

Sorry I'm late, I had to patch a small flesh-wound. Thanks a lot, quonsar. and yes, that was a cute little mini-meta debate on whether there should be quonsar-conrtrol.

So here's my position:

1) YOU - GUN NUTS. STFU
2) YOU - ANTI-GUN NUTS. STFU

I wish the two "sides"(industries, almost) would get out of bed with each other and off their damned high horses and look at the things they agree on:

1) people kill people with guns, cars, planes, knives, and their bare hands
2) guns make it a LOT easier, especially handguns, which ONLY exist to kill people and the occasional Rotweiler.
3) RESPONSIBLE gun owners aren't the problem.

Solution 1: get back to that whole "well-regulated militia" part of the revered Second Amendment. Have people qualify to own guns, like, you know, we do for driving cars. I really don't care who has a gun, as long as they know what they're doing. Bonus if they're responsible, law-abiding citizens.

Solution 2: raiding for all the suddenly "illegal"weapons isn't going to work. See if we can't do a trade for something less deadly, like a car. I don't know. I've never been able to hash that out in my head.

one other thought: the 2nd Amend is there for the people to protect themselves and their stuff from the Government, not primarily each other.

Solution 3: teach non-violent communication, starting at birth if we can. (/wishful fantasy)

And on preview, vorfeed, you make a lot of good points. I want to beleive we can do something because I love my country and I think we can do better.

And on more preview, thanks to the others for making some sane arguments finally.
posted by lysdexic at 5:31 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi writes "3) Most gun enthusiasts make a big show of how 'Law abiding' they are, and love of guns is associated with the Right-wing authoritarian mindset. Those people are obviously going to more inclined to follow laws, even if they disagree with them. "

Save for the militias, of course. Are those guys still around? Seems like they vanished once Bush took office.
posted by brundlefly at 5:32 PM on April 16, 2007


psmealey: We could also do with fewer false, empty and stupid aphorisms like this.

Look, pal, you can have my false, empty and stupid aphorisms when you take them from my cold, dead hands.
posted by swell at 5:34 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


lysdexic writes "Have people qualify to own guns, like, you know, we do for driving cars. I really don't care who has a gun, as long as they know what they're doing. Bonus if they're responsible, law-abiding citizens."

Isn't that pretty much the way it is right now? Correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by brundlefly at 5:35 PM on April 16, 2007


I wish the two "sides"(industries, almost) would get out of bed with each other and off their damned high horses and look at the things they agree on:

Guns and horses in bed? That can't end well.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:37 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by brundlefly Isn't that pretty much the way it is right now? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Unfortunately, today's events have proved you wrong.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:38 PM on April 16, 2007


Solution 1: get back to that whole "well-regulated militia" part of the revered Second Amendment. Have people qualify to own guns, like, you know, we do for driving cars. I really don't care who has a gun, as long as they know what they're doing. Bonus if they're responsible, law-abiding citizens.

That might prevent some kinds of gun crime, but not this. For example, there was at least one student at Virginia tech who had a concealed carry license. Presumably, this guy didn't have a criminal record, just a very bad week. He could have been very responsible in his life up to this.

The sad thing is, some times normal people just absolutely flip out and slaughter people Gang Lu killed a bunch of people because an academic rival won an award, rather then him. There's no reason to think Gang Lu couldn't have passed some kind of screening process in the past.

I'm not saying more restrictive gun control, such as licensing and so forth isn't a good idea, I just don't think it would stop incidents like this.

Here's an Idea I'm just throwing out there: How about limiting the ownership of guns to people over 30? How old do you have to be to own a gun now? 21? I mean come on, I think it's pretty obvious that people don't stop maturing at 21. They continue to gain life experience, and perspective. They would also be farther removed from the social circles of even younger people, and would be more responsible about keeping their guns out of other people's hands.
posted by delmoi at 5:39 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Save for the militias, of course. Are those guys still around? Seems like they vanished once Bush took office.

Sure, but compare the membership in those groups to, say, Pot Smokers. Plus cops could raid their camps and stuff, the same way they raid raves and other parties associated with "Drug culture"
posted by delmoi at 5:41 PM on April 16, 2007


Or, we could ban the sale of ammunition. Gun nuts can have their toys, and gun-control nuts can have their ban. Win-win!
posted by fandango_matt at 5:41 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow. Do you have any sort of evidence or even an attempt at an argument to back up that nonsense?

Just the example of several countries with similar or greater per-capita gun ownership, yet lower murder/accident rates.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:42 PM on April 16, 2007


Plus cops could raid their camps and stuff, the same way they raid raves and other parties associated with "Drug culture"

Yes, because cops are so much more eager to jump into a clubhouse filled with weaponry, than a clubhouse filled with drooling stoners.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:43 PM on April 16, 2007


fandango_matt writes "Unfortunately, today's events have proved you wrong."

How so?
posted by brundlefly at 5:44 PM on April 16, 2007


And personally, I want a DAO-12. That's the fucker I want at my side for the post-apocalyptic zombie attack. Mmmrrawwwhr, BFG!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:46 PM on April 16, 2007


Which may explain why the like of qonsar or Artw and a few others try desperately to exert some kind of power by crapping in this thread and on the mods (who, for them, represent power).

Oh dear, decloaking again. Probably this is going to get me doused in petrol and burnt, but I really felt I should respond.

With respect, get bent.

I thought that moving the debat to this thread was a bad idea, and to be honest it pissed me off. And I expressed that feeling. Others commented and I responded.

The discussion may have got a little heated, and I may have responded strongly, more so than is really a good idea, but I'm finding this labeling of myself as some kind of troll a bit objectionable now. I happened to disagree, I expressed that, I repsonded to the responses of others, as others have said to me "get over it".

And then, when I'm not even on the subject of whether the MetaTalk thread is a good idea or not people really start piling into me, in particular shmegegge with his snidey point by point. So I shut up entirely, whcih doesn't really work anyway.

Sorry for the self indulgent derail, but you're pissing me off, and I think you're way off the mark.
posted by Artw at 5:47 PM on April 16, 2007


CynicalKnight Lots of people keep and use guns with extreme respect, but in a country where portable cannons are as patriotic and commonplace as mom and apple pie when a nutcase comes unhinged chances are that's what they'll reach for.

Portable cannons are not commonplace in the US. Here is a touching story about a woman, her father and his cannon.
posted by mlis at 5:52 PM on April 16, 2007


Isn't that pretty much the way it is right now? Correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by brundlefly at 5:35 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]

Background checks != gun safety classes. Get a permit before you get a gun, just like driver's ed.


Guns and horses in bed? That can't end well.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:37 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]

Yeah, I've never had a good metaphor to encasulate the ridiculousness of the NOGUNS/GUNS argument, but that was the closest to accurate that I could get.


Solution 1: (etc)

That might prevent some kinds of gun crime, but not this. For example, there was at least one student at Virginia tech who had a concealed carry license. Presumably, this guy didn't have a criminal record, just a very bad week. He could have been very responsible in his life up to this.

....

I'm not saying more restrictive gun control, such as licensing and so forth isn't a good idea, I just don't think it would stop incidents like this.


Yes, I just think it might go down at least some. We can't forsee every tragedy, but the fact that something could happen is forseeable.


Here's an Idea I'm just throwing out there: How about limiting the ownership of guns to people over 30? How old do you have to be to own a gun now? 21? I mean come on, I think it's pretty obvious that people don't stop maturing at 21. They continue to gain life experience, and perspective. They would also be farther removed from the social circles of even younger people, and would be more responsible about keeping their guns out of other people's hands.
posted by delmoi at 5:39 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]

Who knows? I'm over 30. I certainly don't object.


Or, we could ban the sale of ammunition. Gun nuts can have their toys, and gun-control nuts can have their ban. Win-win!
posted by fandango_matt at 5:41 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]


So I'd go up to quonsar and say "BANG!" I like!


Wow. Do you have any sort of evidence or even an attempt at an argument to back up that nonsense?

Just the example of several countries with similar or greater per-capita gun ownership, yet lower murder/accident rates.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:42 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]


What fff said.

Gotta go make dinner now. toodles!
posted by lysdexic at 5:52 PM on April 16, 2007


Not exactly, Brundlefly. There's a background check wherein they make sure that you're not a felon and that you're not the subject of any kind of domestic violence protection order, and in some locales, there's a "cooling off" period, but you generally don't have to take a safety course or anything. (For concealed carry permits, the requirements are a quite a bit more stringent, however.)

True story: When I was nineteen, my parents gave me a handgun for Christmas. A used one. (Long story, not involving wrongdoing on the part of my parents, which I will not relate here.) After Christmas, when I went back to school in California, I cheerfully packed up my gun and brought it with me. Then, as soon as I was settled, I called my local licensing agency so that I could register the thing and make it legal.

I spoke to an upbeat, grandfatherly-sounding guy who explained to me that, unless I'd paid value for the gun, the transfer wasn't valid, and that there was no way to make my gun legal in California. I asked him what I should do. He said something along the lines of, "You're not going to commit any crimes with it, right? Just keep it. Don't tell anyone like me about it ever again. How does that sound?" He was comletely serious.

The next time I went to see my parents, I brought the gun back with me, and I left it in their gun-locker, where, AFAIK, it rests unfired and more-or-less legal to this day.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:53 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by brundlefly How so?

You asked, "Isn't [having people qualify to own guns, like, you know, we do for driving cars. I really don't care who has a gun, as long as they know what they're doing. Bonus if they're responsible, law-abiding citizens.] pretty much the way it is right now? Correct me if I'm wrong."

Unfortunately, that's not the way it is right now, as a madman in Virginia has demonstrated.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:55 PM on April 16, 2007


Thanks, lysdexic and palmcorder_yajna.

fandango_matt, I was asking whether those are existing requirements, as opposed whether those requirements are effective or not.
posted by brundlefly at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2007


Artw-You were being ridiculous and you got called on it. Insisting that a dedicated thread for conversation equals some sort of cowardly censorship, and then refusing to discuss the topic that is apparently so dear to your heart that you can't stop being a jerk about it, is all pretty trollish behavior.
posted by OmieWise at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2007


Anything besides "." in the blue thread should be flagged as disrespectful and deleted. Anything besides "." is off topic and might offend someone.

Debate on Metafilter: .
posted by alms at 6:03 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why are we ignoring the real issue? If pot was legal he'd be all pissed off listening to Phish right now. Sure it'd take a few months, a few mediocre blow jobs at off-campus frat parties and perhaps low-grades for a semester ... but think of the lives saved. He'd be pissed off calling his RA Bush and logged into Metafilter.

And what the hell guys about gun control? Doesn't anyone realize that life is best lived within the extremes? Everyone carrying guns is just as bad as guns being banned. So lets keep the majority of the population who will use guns for bad purposes away from them as best we can and concede that an aberration like this happens once in awhile with a country of 300 million people and just as many guns that will be around for at least several generations even if a ban was enacted tomorrow.
posted by geoff. at 6:05 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by brundlefly I was asking whether those are existing requirements, as opposed whether those requirements are effective or not.

If they exist, they certainly aren't effective.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:10 PM on April 16, 2007


OmieWise- except it was when I was discussing the subject that people really started jumping up and down on me.
posted by Artw at 6:14 PM on April 16, 2007


And as for where I stand - well, the workplace/school murder/suicide seems to be largely an American issue. Both the ready availabilty of firearms (particularly handguns) and the culture that surrounds them seem to be a cause. That "gun control seems to haver become adrity word with some people is part of that culture.

Could you enact some kind of ban? Doubtful. It seems that proposing even minor restrictions on gun ownership raises hell, and they're not really very worthwhile - a partial ban with loopholes is basically the same as no ban at all.

Depressingly the do-nothing camp seems to win the day by default.

Could you shift the culture away from the position it is now? Maybe, though it seems pretty unlikely.
posted by Artw at 6:27 PM on April 16, 2007


Is this the right post to mention that this is a huge boon for Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove? And Hillary Clinton?
posted by Balisong at 6:40 PM on April 16, 2007


“...In the end they use the thread to just show how much they believe in their cause and trade rhetorical jabs with the flagwavers from the other side...” - posted by drezdn

Well said.

I don’t favor gun control. But nor do I think a plethora of guns here would have been the answer. Certainly someone trained in the use of firearms would potentially have come in handy. But given the careless environment surrounding firearms that doesn’t seem likely. And the last thing you want if the objective is to protect people is a crossfire.

There are some of folks who are focused on police abuses. I’m curious how that position jibes with gun control. If the cops break into your home and attempt kill you - and we’ve had examples of this on metafilter - what then is the remedy? Frying pan? A march? (after you’ve been gunned down of course and presuming you don’t disappear).
Is gun violence preferable to the potential abuses and loss of liberty at the hands of authorities/criminals/et.al against an unarmed society?
I think so, but many people don’t. I wouldn’t argue against that per se. On the one hand we have manifest tragedies, on the other we have the histories of other countries where it’s gone bad. And indeed, some examples where it’s, apparently, working. Would that work in the U.S.? I don’t think so. Ample evidence of that.
Should we change all that, reframe the picture? Ah, now there’s the question. And so is “how?” (and been well covered on both sides by some folks here)

But I think examining why we think what we think - about anything really, but in this case gun control, is fairly important.

Most Particularly Now.

If you’re sitting there thinking “See, you macho idiots - THIS is what those useless guns do” or “See, you pussy wimps - THIS is what happens when you ban guns” you seriously have to check your reality man.

I mean, if a tragedy of this kind doesn’t make you rethink your basic beliefs and how those fit into your world view and only makes you blindly re-assert them, then yeah, you are an asshole.
(‘you’ in the universal sense there “one is an assole” sounds kinda weird)
posted by Smedleyman at 6:48 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


No one would start up a gun control debate in a room full of mourners, but this isn't that situation, this is the INTERNETS. We left our decency in our other pants. These pants, they just have quonsar's fish in them.

You're wearing pants?

It's your culture that causes it, not your handguns.

Repeating it often enough makes it true, eh?
posted by oaf at 6:51 PM on April 16, 2007


palmcorder: There's a background check wherein they make sure that you're not a felon and that you're not the subject of any kind of domestic violence protection order, and in some locales, there's a "cooling off" period, but you generally don't have to take a safety course or anything.

Brundlefly: "Isn't [having people qualify to own guns, like, you know, we do for driving cars. I really don't care who has a gun, as long as they know what they're doing. Bonus if they're responsible, law-abiding citizens.] pretty much the way it is right now? Correct me if I'm wrong."

Matt: Unfortunately, that's not the way it is right now, as a madman in Virginia has demonstrated.

In California at least, all handgun buyers are required to demonstrate an (admittedly low) level of competence with safe use of handguns through passing both a written test and a physical demonstration of safe use.

Taking a gun safety test != protection from assholes who will shoot people. With a death count of 32 people (excluding himself) I think it's safe to say that this gunman knew exactly what he was doing with his guns.

I am unclear on the point of this argument, how does making people demonstrate that they know how to safely use a gun make the world any safer from their murderous impulses?
posted by nerdcore at 6:59 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


/I’d love to see a cultural shift btw. Right now it’s adolescent the way firearms are treated in the U.S. For a time there, firearms were taken seriously as tools and as something to be cared for responsibly. Of course the media portrayal of them has been fairly consistent. I think Chandler and Hammett and some others are exempted. But for the most part (in movies, t.v. books, etc.) when someone has a gun in their hand it’s like the whole world is supposed to change. In many respects it’s the ultimate dramatic device. But very few people outside of those that own or use them are familiar with them. If they were the old Chandler quote would sound silly: “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a drill in his hand.”
posted by Smedleyman at 7:00 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't get the idea behind the belief that people should own a device that is designed to kill other people and has no other real practical value.

If the argument for guns is self-protection, then why must the guns be lethal? Why not have effective non-lethal forms of protection? Some products already exist, and if handguns were banned, then gun manufacturers would start rapidly improving non-lethal protective guns.

If the argument for guns is to be able to overthrow the government, then why would we possibly stop there? You can't realistically overthrow the government or take them on in any way militarily with just guns. You would need more than that. If citizens need to be able to overthrow the government, then there should be virtually no ban on the weapons that they are allowed to own.

To me, ownership of handguns seems to mostly be about having the right to kill other people in the easiest manner possible. I just happen to think that is not a right that we ought to have.
posted by flarbuse at 7:11 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


To me, ownership of handguns seems to mostly be about having the right to kill other people in the easiest manner possible. I just happen to think that is not a right that we ought to have.

What will you do when no law-abiding citizens can defend themselves against someone who obtains and uses a gun illegally? If someone wants badly enough to have a gun (or anything, really), the law is an insignificant deterrent.
posted by oaf at 7:15 PM on April 16, 2007


"The only way to truly control guns would be to gather them all up and give some back to the responsible people, with heavy restrictions on their use and keeping. But that's impossible: Pandora's box is open, guns are out there, and there's little we can do to make them safe. You'll sooner corral a dust storm."

Well, couple of back-of-envelope ideas—
First off, require accurate batch stamping of ammunition. That's been resisted up until now. Also, eliminating bullets meant to fragment internally (which hurts identification). If I'm spitballing, I follow that up with laws that revoke the dealer's license if a bullet they sold was used in a crime. You bet that suddenly dealers will care a lot more about who they sell to. Eliminate ammunition importing along with that (or institute the same batch controls), to shore up the Czech/ ex-Nato cheapo bullets that are easy to get right now. People who want SUVs have to get used to expensive gas; people who want to do sport shooting can get used to expensive bullets.
Along with that, you could also require manufacturers of firearms and ammo to pay into a victim restitution fund.
Second off, create a federal gun sale standards law. Close off loopholes that encourage people to buy in, say, Virginia and take guns to New York. The commerce clause can apply to guns pretty easily. Usually, I'm more into federalism, but the states' rights stuff is pretty played when it comes to guns. One area where states could be useful is requiring everyone who wants a firearm permit to pass a gun safety class. People should know how to store and secure their guns just as much as they know how to use them safely. If necessary, do this on a federal level too— call it No Gun Owner Left behind or something.
Aside from that, I'd love it if the NRA et al. got off this "protection" kick for a while— though it's often given as a justification, guns are used far more for recreational purposes. Treating them like cars or snowmobiles, both things that can kill but are fun, makes more sense, at least ot this liberal.
posted by klangklangston at 7:15 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The commerce clause can apply to guns pretty easily.

If you're into unconstitutional power grabs. But hey, Washington sure is!
posted by oaf at 7:20 PM on April 16, 2007


"If the cops break into your home and attempt kill you - and we’ve had examples of this on metafilter - what then is the remedy? Frying pan? A march? (after you’ve been gunned down of course and presuming you don’t disappear).
Is gun violence preferable to the potential abuses and loss of liberty at the hands of authorities/criminals/et.al against an unarmed society? "

Y'know, I'm just curious— when was the last time that someone successfully held off the authorities by being armed? Or, when was the last time that an armed confrontation didn't end with either the suspect surrendering or being killed/incapacitated by gunfire? Because every example I can think of where people have tried to hold off the authorities with force has ended up in them getting killed, including some nice gay pot farming hippies from not too far from here.
I'm not against having an armed populace, I'd just like to move out of this cloudcuckooland where people face off the cops and win because they have guns on their side.
Honestly, if you want the best time to be armed in order to assert your rights against the government— that is a march. That's the Actung alles Arbeitmensch Haymarket Riots and Labor Day. But on your own? Fuck, lay a flower at Ruby Ridge for me.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


"If you're into unconstitutional power grabs. But hey, Washington sure is!"

Don't be retarded. Guns are already regulated under the commerce clause— this'd be an extention.
posted by klangklangston at 7:23 PM on April 16, 2007


Klangklangston--

Re: guns and the commerce clause: I agree basically, but multiple constitutional issues are implicated in the analysis, and as such it's kind of tricky.

Re: regulation of ammunition: I really like what you're saying, and I think that registering ammo by batch would be excellent start. However, malefactors who acted with any degree of premediation would just buy ammo repacked in pre-regulation brass.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 7:35 PM on April 16, 2007


If you're into unconstitutional power grabs. But hey, Washington sure is!

Well, they are. The commerce clause has been used for this kind of thing for ages, and the entire drug war is predicated on it.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 PM on April 16, 2007


Well, yeah, I'd imagine that some folks would stockpile ammo. And there are always some folks who make their own (it's not all that hard). But the vast majority wouldn't, and over time, the pre-reg stuff would dwindle.
posted by klangklangston at 7:38 PM on April 16, 2007


(You could also do trade-ins).

And it's important to note that even something like that wouldn't eliminate tragedies like today's, because the murder/suicide folks are notoriously hard to punish.

As to Lopez, this would be directly concerned with the sale of ammunition. Unless there was a compelling argument for the 2nd ammendment to trump the commerce clause in this case, I'd think that it'd be a lot more solid than school zones.
posted by klangklangston at 7:40 PM on April 16, 2007


"Comments don't kill people."

Bring it on.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:42 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hmm, negative sanctions for distributors and manufacturers of lethally utilized guns? Isn't that a little nonsensical? Okay if they are willfully negligent or demonstrably complicit in the crime but if not? Unjust. I am reminded of the "tort reform" cries against us liberals regarding the difficulty doctors face getting and keeping malpractice insurance.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:48 PM on April 16, 2007


Second, affected Mefi members can request specific information, and our resident Google-mad semi-pro reference squad is fairly likely to be able to go out and find it.

Well, Wikipedia has its own resident Google-mad semi-pro reference squad. But your points 1, 3, and 3.5 are well-taken.

Although I will point out:
DAO-12 misinformation in Wikipedia: corrected in ~3 minutes
DAO-12 misinformation on MetaFilter: corrected in ~90 minutes
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:49 PM on April 16, 2007


Hmm, negative sanctions for distributors and manufacturers of lethally utilized guns?

Why stop there?

Cars. Medicine. Coleman stoves. Baseball bats. Bungee cords. Rope. Sticks and stones.

Anything that ever kills anyone.

Mandatory $25 mil. fine. Each instance.
posted by Balisong at 7:53 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


If it does turn out that the killer was a student from overseas arriving last September (as some reports are saying), this presumably means he was able to buy guns in the eight months since he got to the US. Would that be possible legally?
posted by Abiezer at 7:58 PM on April 16, 2007


Guns are already regulated under the commerce clause

And properly, if they're being bought and sold across state lines. The government doesn't legitimately have the power to do regulate intrastate sales under the commerce clause.
posted by oaf at 7:59 PM on April 16, 2007


I got fed up and flagged the person who put twenty or something periods. I definitely over-reacted, but I thought it was tacky at the time and still do. I mean, really, what does pressing the period prove anyway? Still, that's not what its for. Just thought I would confess.
posted by Pacheco at 7:59 PM on April 16, 2007


...that's not what flagging is for, that is.
posted by Pacheco at 8:01 PM on April 16, 2007


Well, yeah, I'd imagine that some folks would stockpile ammo. And there are always some folks who make their own (it's not all that hard). But the vast majority wouldn't, and over time, the pre-reg stuff would dwindle.
posted by klangklangston at 7:38 PM on April 16 [+]
[!]


I could go for that. I remember the shock and horror the simple suggestion that fertilizer be chemically tagged brought upon the Congress way back when everyone hated the President of the moment, but dammit, we've got to do something.
posted by lysdexic at 8:02 PM on April 16, 2007


Klangklangston--
Re: Lopez:

I agree with you that it would be more solid than a school-zone case, but I also think it would be highly controversial, and given the way that Lopez upset expectations re: Commerce Clause analysis, it might be somewhat less than a rubber-stampable exercise. (Which is to say, I'm not really arguing from text here, so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:03 PM on April 16, 2007


I got fed up and flagged the person who put twenty or something periods. I definitely over-reacted

Strangest thing I've seen all day, and it's been kind of a doozy.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:07 PM on April 16, 2007


Could you shift the culture away from the position it is now? Maybe, though it seems pretty unlikely.

50 years ago about 90% of the white population thought it should be illegal for a black person to marry a white person. 100 years ago lynching was common.

Culture CAN be changed. Cultural attitudes about machismo, responsibility, and violence - particularly GUN violence - we have never really tried to change. And I am afraid a number of popular things would have to be held up to scrutiny and maybe stigmatized in order to affect this kind of change.

Banning guns won't work. In fact prohibitions are an unprincipled and counter productive thing to do.

Just like drugs you need to address the demand and the reason for the demand, in order to stop the trade and traffic.

The demand is cultural. People perceive that there is this big threat out there. Or they feel powerless. Or they feel they can achieve no social justice. Guns, like them or not, address these perceptions for a great number of people in the US. There ARE real reasons people feel they need guns.

Frankly given our current government; It's level of incompetence and disregard for civil rights and it's egregious abuse of authority... I would be uncomfortable sacrificing my own access to firearms. If this is thought of as irrational by non-gun owners doesn't matter. The fact is it is a common feeling. And telling people they are crazy for feeling that way won't help.

That said. I have no firearms in my house currently since we moved back into a condo and I would be negligent putting my neighbors at risk with a fire arm in a "hive" like community. I feel this way even though I am trained and have had a life long familiarity with guns. I do "own" a couple of guns. A shotgun. A hand gun. My folks keep a hunting rifle of mine. None are in my home. My point is I addressed my OWN culturally created biased perceptions of why I "wanted" a gun nearby. And by moving to a situation that is statistically safer with a more responsible and trust worthy community nearby I felt no need to have gun on premises.

Our society needs to do this. Get beyond the "gun nut" and "guns are evil" thing and just treat the issue practically, honestly, and reasonably.

I support background checks, waiting periods and closing gun show loop holes. But these things are not WHY people shoot eachother. Just one ingredient in how.
posted by tkchrist at 8:10 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, obviously, there'd have to be a pretty massive political will to get that done, so I'm not gonna hold my breath.

"And properly, if they're being bought and sold across state lines. The government doesn't legitimately have the power to do regulate intrastate sales under the commerce clause."

I'm willing to bet that Smith and Wesson doesn't make every gun they sell in the state they sell it. Same argument with ammo. So, what, every gun and ammo maker is going to respond by making guns locally only to avoid commerce clause restrictions? Fine. Looks like homeland security money just got a new regulatory clause.
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 PM on April 16, 2007


Y'know, I'm just curious— when was the last time that someone successfully held off the authorities by being armed? Or, when was the last time that an armed confrontation didn't end with either the suspect surrendering or being killed/incapacitated by gunfire? Because every example I can think of where people have tried to hold off the authorities with force has ended up in them getting killed, including some nice gay pot farming hippies from not too far from here.

That's the part of right-wing anti-government gun nuts that has always puzzled me. These are, very often, the same people that think Hillary Clinton is a criminal overlord who has personally murdered people and will usher in her White House era a new dawn of oppressive government force... and yet they think when her vast army comes they'll actually be able to stop it.

There was this mediocre HBO movie a few years back where John Cusack plays an outlaw rancher accused of murder. He's hiding out in the woods with his posse and a representative from the army comes to offer amnesty if he comes to trial, and Cusack's character asks what would happen if he refuses. The army guy just says "we come after you with the army. And you lose." It wasn't a very good movie but that's one of my favorite movie lines of all time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:13 PM on April 16, 2007


unlike some, i have no objection to a debate on gun control before the echoes from the gunshots themselves have died, because that's an inevitable thing on an american internet.

i own guns and support the 2nd amendment. talk all you want, but i'm keeping them.
posted by bruce at 8:13 PM on April 16, 2007


Whups, meant to quote p_y: "but I also think it would be highly controversial, and given the way that Lopez upset expectations re: Commerce Clause analysis, it might be somewhat less than a rubber-stampable exercise" above.
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm not against having an armed populace, I'd just like to move out of this cloudcuckooland where people face off the cops and win because they have guns on their side.

See: Iraq. Civilians with guns have stopped the world's mightiest army in its tracks and are slowly bleeding it to death.
posted by Malor at 8:22 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm sure the topic of gun control could have been brought up with some sensitivity in the original thread. I agree with ArtW. Putting the discussion elsewhere than precisely what it relates to makes no sense to me. People who jump to grind an axe can be flagged and/or ignored, rather than being fed trollsnacks, but the news precisely raises gun and security issues or discussion topics.

And "Don't be an asshole" as someone said above is hardly a rule around here. Maybe "Don't be an asshole in a way different from the majority," though. People attack and pick on each other in many sensitive situations around here. Personally, I really don't like it. The difference in this instance seems to be that it's a group feeling that must be protected. The standard hypocrisy of the world. Well, fine, I guess. I don't own the site so I'm not all upset about it, but the crux does seem to be about popularity.
posted by Listener at 8:22 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, klangklangston, those are some good ideas. Ammo control seems like a more effective way to go about controlling guns than bans on weapon sales. Holding dealers accountable for whom they sell to is good, too, but then you have these guys who the neighbors thought was so normal, perfectly nice, would mow the lawn on Sundays, flips out in McDonald's; would you penalize the dealer who sold the gun to someone who was a model gun-owner when the gun was purchased, but later came unhinged?

Also, with regard to ammo, wouldn't it be relatively easy for criminal organizations to mill thei own ammo if controls on ammo became too restrictive? I don't know much about the manufacturing processes involved, but if all those communist revolutionaries could set up machine shops and manufacture their own AK-47's, doesn't it seem possible that the real criminals would just make a cottage industry of anything that was banned but not impossible to make? It's all pretty speculative, but I think this sort of speculation is a step in the right direction.

I'm all for gun control, but I don't think the debate is over who should or should not have which guns, or which guns should be sold to whom. Those answers are always facile and loaded with hindsight: of course, we shouldn't sell big guns to bad people, but that debate is as useless as its answers are obvious and simply serves as an invitation to bad form. I think the debate is over how to implement executable policies that will reasonably and effectively control the level of gun violence, and, if not taking guns away from everyone, at least keeping them out of the hands of the wrong people. That takes both political will and clever thinking about the mechanics of policy and the capacity for executive action, and it would serve us all to give it some thought.

It's unfortunate that we as a society only air our feelings on guns after mass killings, as it does a disservice to both sides of the debate. On the one hand, folks who want to keep their guns are breathlessly chastised for encouraging lone gunmen to rampage through schools. On the other hand, folks who want to control guns have to face up to the fact that these spectacular abberations aren't representative of gun crime in the USA, and are thus weak examples on which to base policy arguments. Tragedies like today or the Columbine shootings are horrible in every way, and by no means do I wish to diminish any of their impact. But they make bad examples and bad touchstones for movements, because they move the debate out of the real and the feasible and into a fantasy world populated by gun nuts killing rooms full of people, and people who want to lock up every gun owner in sight. Doesn't make for a very well-reasoned gun policy.
posted by breezeway at 8:25 PM on April 16, 2007


i own guns and support the 2nd amendment. talk all you want, but i'm keeping them.
posted by bruce


That's fine. Do you know how to use them? Maintain them, keep them from small hands? Do you have trigger locks?

And don't tell me it's none of my damn business, because it is. We may be thousands of miles apart, but we share the meatspace with everyone else here, and if your gun is used in something like today's shootings, can we come after you?

Maybe you can be trusted, maybe not. Same goes for me and my car.

And by support of the 2nd amendment, may I assume that you get that whole "well regulated militia" part?

I have no instrinsic objections to people owning guns. I do think I as part of the voting public and therefore part of the government, I have the right to ask that we do what we can to ensure that they're used responsibly.
posted by lysdexic at 8:25 PM on April 16, 2007


It take me so long to thumb stuff into my Blackberry here that much of what I wrote has been touched on or covered already; sorry, folks.
posted by breezeway at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2007


may I assume that you get that whole "well regulated militia" part?

Ah. But who regulates? And how. THAT part is not spelled out is it?

In Serbia it was the soccer hooligans who formed "militias" under the auspices of the Milsovic government (who had started to tightly regulate gun ownership otherwise) and sparked a frigg'n civil war with his own private goon squad.

Think about the 2004 Presidential Election. What if Kerry had decided to contest it based upon the Ohio irregularities. So. The Bushies have had four years to "regulate" militias. You don't think having a de facto domestic army under the loose control of "who ever" could not be mis-used? Uused to intimidate voters and election investigators like in Haiti? And them being the ONLY non-criminal guys with guns?

This idea of the "well regulated militia" is not the panacea you think it is.
posted by tkchrist at 8:36 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think an effective way to combat unnecessary gun ownership would be a public service ad campaign. Pointing out what utter, pathetic pussies people are for feeling they need to own a gun to "defend themselves" against that big scary world out there. Christ, grow some fucking balls, gun owners.
posted by Jimbob at 8:40 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by nerdcore I am unclear on the point of this argument, how does making people demonstrate that they know how to safely use a gun make the world any safer from their murderous impulses?

That's the point. It doesn't.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:44 PM on April 16, 2007


"See: Iraq. Civilians with guns have stopped the world's mightiest army in its tracks and are slowly bleeding it to death."

Oh, horseshit. Armed citizens are only succeeding in destroying their state and getting killed. Bleeding it to death? The only thing that they're bleeding to death is the American willingness to continue financing and supporting a war that was a farce from the beginning. And that's with MILITARY hardware, which has long been out of the reach of American citizens.
I'm sorry, I know you wanna count the coup for mentioning the Iraq quagmire, but to think that it's applicable here is to confuse wishful rhetoric with reality.
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 PM on April 16, 2007


Christ, grow some fucking balls, gun owners.

Yeah. Gee. That'll help.
posted by tkchrist at 8:47 PM on April 16, 2007


Well if they're all offended by my comment, they can come teach me a lesson I won't forget. If that's the level their dispute resolution skills are on.
posted by Jimbob at 8:52 PM on April 16, 2007


This idea of the "well regulated militia" is not the panacea you think it is.

Well, I'm not looking for panaceas, I'm looking for solutions. Someone better versed in history will have to help me here, but didn't the militias' memberships explode under Regan? And haven't they ben pretty much unregulated since?

I'm not advocating private armies, I'm advocating responsibility.

As for who spells it out, well, that's us. the government. One of my hobby horses is constant irritation at the notion that "Teh Govermit" is somehow separate from us and not under our control. Untrue. It's easier for Money (in this case read NRA, corporations, what have you) to organize than People, but it can be done. "It's too hard" is not an excuse.

Some people can do more than others, but if we're going to make change, we'd better get to it.

I'm sorry, but I can't take your 2004 analogy seriously. They didn't need militias and guns to steal the elecion in 2000 or 2004.

posted by nerdcore I am unclear on the point of this argument, how does making people demonstrate that they know how to safely use a gun make the world any safer from their murderous impulses?

That's the point. It doesn't.


Won't know til we try, will we? And it's only a place to start. Change the culture: non violent communication. Dispute resolution in pre-k through college.

This is way out there, but some of the most effective "pay attention to the road, dammit" PSA's I ever saw had someone who was fiddling with somehing in the car and then tragedy occurs. The caption at the end was "Jim Smith didn't like the song on the radio. So he killed a little girl". That was an attention getter. This can be done, I think.
posted by lysdexic at 8:53 PM on April 16, 2007


"Holding dealers accountable for whom they sell to is good, too, but then you have these guys who the neighbors thought was so normal, perfectly nice, would mow the lawn on Sundays, flips out in McDonald's; would you penalize the dealer who sold the gun to someone who was a model gun-owner when the gun was purchased, but later came unhinged?"

Personally? Well, yeah, I would. I'd think that would make people pretty damn scrupulous about who they sold guns or ammo to. Probably wouldn't make it a lifetime ban, but extending the web of responsibility regarding gun use would be, to me, a fair outcome. I won't make arguments regarding the legality of said scheme, however.

"Also, with regard to ammo, wouldn't it be relatively easy for criminal organizations to mill thei own ammo if controls on ammo became too restrictive? I don't know much about the manufacturing processes involved, but if all those communist revolutionaries could set up machine shops and manufacture their own AK-47's, doesn't it seem possible that the real criminals would just make a cottage industry of anything that was banned but not impossible to make? It's all pretty speculative, but I think this sort of speculation is a step in the right direction."

Yeah, but to make reliable ammo on a large scale, you need a pretty big factory. Again, making the manufacture of cocaine illegal hasn't stamped out cocaine production, but only legalization lunatics argue that it hasn't had any effect. And part of the reason why it's easy now is because you can buy the materials pretty easily. Incorporating batch signatures into the raw materials wouldn't be that insanely hard from a feasibility standpoint, though it certainly wouldn't be a panacea. Without advanced chemistry, blackpowder's not that hard to make, but it's not that dangerous either.

"But they make bad examples and bad touchstones for movements, because they move the debate out of the real and the feasible and into a fantasy world populated by gun nuts killing rooms full of people, and people who want to lock up every gun owner in sight. Doesn't make for a very well-reasoned gun policy."

I think that's about exactly right.
posted by klangklangston at 8:54 PM on April 16, 2007


Armed citizens are only succeeding in destroying their state and getting killed.The only thing that they're bleeding to death is the American willingness to continue financing and supporting a war...

Uh. Exactly. THAT'S the goal.

BTW. The AK-47 is not out of reach of the US citizen. And. If the Iraqi's can get Chinese made RPG's smuggled to them through sympathetic allies and around the US Military occupation juggernaut so could a domestic "uprising" INSIDE the US. More easily in fact.

You can get heroine and stolen Apple lap tops in Federal Prison in the US. All you need is MONEY.

It not like the US doesn't have enemies that would be willing to supply military hardware to rebels in the US. Small arms just bridge the gap until you can get the bigger stuff.

So I know you thought you were scoring coup by mentioning the overwhelming bad-assedness of the US military and kookidness of anybody who thinks that small arms can fight wars... but YOUR confusing being an knee-jerk internet asshole with historical fact.
posted by tkchrist at 8:57 PM on April 16, 2007


"I am unclear on the point of this argument, how does making people demonstrate that they know how to safely use a gun make the world any safer from their murderous impulses?"

Well, to take your obvious rhetorical question at face value— It means that accidental gun deaths, of which there are more than there are mass murders, could be diminished. It means that people have a better understanding of what a gun does, and are trained to use it in self-defense (one of those gun safety things that has to become ingrained is that you never, ever point a gun at someone, loaded or not. Only after getting that do you move on to the obvious exception— unless you mean to kill them right then). I do believe that understanding the nature of a gun as a weapon makes you more cautious about using it, and that caution extends to mitigating murderous impulses.
posted by klangklangston at 9:00 PM on April 16, 2007


All 27 of my guns have never been used to kill anyone. I keep them locked up in an 800lb safe.
I have never owned a hunting licence, and don't hunt.
I keep them for the fun of hitting a paper target three times in the same spot at 100yds, or to watch a pop can jump.

I also keep them for when the time comes that I might need to stand up against tyrany. Both domestic and foriegn.

Protests don't do it.
If they come looking for my guns after Hillary is elected, they won't find any, except maybe a .22 plinker and maybe a shotgun, you know, for bears. (don't trip over that shovel on your way out the door, Mr. Federal Agent...)

I fear the police. I fear private militias for hire.
Someday, my guns just might me used to save some of you sorry saps who would have disarmed me.

I'm not comming after anyone in particular. I just think that they may still come in a lot handier that many believe.
posted by Balisong at 9:07 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


If guns were banned, guys like this would just build bombs.

If guns were easier to get, he'd have just bought more of them, and body armor.

This event doesn't prove anything.
posted by empath at 9:08 PM on April 16, 2007


I'm sorry, but I can't take your 2004 analogy seriously. They didn't need militias and guns to steal the election in 2000 or 2004.

I'm saying that "militias" have been regulated by ruling classes though out history and used to spark civil wars. This has happened as recently as 1996.

Concentrating arms the hands of people who only want them really really really bad but who are not part of full time disciplined fighting force has proved to be a terrible idea in other places and times.

There is a reason for professional military that is illegal to use domestically. The Posse Comitatus Act is good idea. With civil militias running around every state that would be near impossible to maintain over time.

While I favor licenses and tests for gun ownership you will be better off addressing the cultural roots of violence and WHY people want or think they need guns than merely concentrating guns in the hands of a few.

Well if they're all offended by my comment, they can come teach me a lesson I won't forget.

IF? You deliberately designed your comment to be as insulting and inflammatory as you could. Given that as your sole contribution to the discussion, Jimbob, I think you are to stupid to learn any kind of lesson. Let alone retain it.
posted by tkchrist at 9:11 PM on April 16, 2007


Uh. Balisong. Your not helping. Please don't shoot me.
posted by tkchrist at 9:13 PM on April 16, 2007


I mean, really, what does pressing the period prove anyway?

It's not a period. It's a little soul. Look closer.
posted by IronLizard at 9:28 PM on April 16, 2007


"Uh. Exactly. THAT'S the goal."

But they're not winning or surviving. That was my point.

"BTW. The AK-47 is not out of reach of the US citizen. And. If the Iraqi's can get Chinese made RPG's smuggled to them through sympathetic allies and around the US Military occupation juggernaut so could a domestic "uprising" INSIDE the US. More easily in fact."

Operating a regular firearm is out of reach for the average citizen. Standing against a well-trained professional army? Seriously?

I know that you're naked in front of your computer, masturbating to the idea of the lone American standing against the big bad government, but the fact is that Iraq is LOSING the war. And the US simply does not want to exercise the necessary brutality or incur the cost that victory (in a cessation of sizable resistance) would require. But in the US, the political will would go from being one of imperial dalliance to one of survival.
Hell, we'll grant your AK47s. Who, in the US, has beaten the government with them?
No one. Not one single fucking person.
Ok, you say, but what about an organized rebellion?
Right. And they'd be organized by who and how?

The only way that this fantasy becomes anywhere near plausible is if there was a significant portion of the US military that organized a coup. And then it'd still rely on those US citizens with military training.

So excuse me if I don't recalibrate my bullshit meter when someone cobbles together a handful of misspellings and anti-US hyperbole into an argument for gun ownership.
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 PM on April 16, 2007


posted by Balisong I fear the police. I fear private militias for hire. Someday, my guns just might me used to save some of you sorry saps who would have disarmed me.

I predict an interesting question from Anonymous in November 2008:

"Dear AskMetaFilter: Now that Hillary is president, I find myself overcome with the apolcalyptic delusions one typically finds in paranoid, sociopathic paramilitary losers who frequent rabidly right-wing extremist websites and subscribe to Soldier Of Fortune. When Hillary and the rest of those commie pink libs come for me and my guns, what are some memorable and patriotic quotes I could yell as I'm filled with lead from the ATF, FBI, CIA, NSA, and black helicopters hovering over my poorly-lit and sour-smelling Y2K bunker?"
posted by fandango_matt at 9:31 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I also keep them for when the time comes that I might need to stand up against tyrany. Both domestic and foriegn...Someday, my guns just might me used to save some of you sorry saps who would have disarmed me.

And I'm sure the American public are safe and warm in the knowledge that Balisong is ready to decide for them what sort of tyrany is worth shooting back at.

Given that as your sole contribution to the discussion, Jimbob,

I apologise for not getting here earlier, and I blame my hangover. Nonetheless, I stand by my comments that people who own guns, for defense against hypothetical muggers or hypothetical tyrants, are cowards.
posted by Jimbob at 9:49 PM on April 16, 2007


“You can get heroine and stolen Apple laptops in Federal Prison in the US. All you need is MONEY.”—tkchrist

“Here's fifty bucks and two packs of cigarettes. Bring me Buffy and a Dell Latitude.”
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:02 PM on April 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I didn't read this thread, just the front page one, but I wanted to thank the folks who got the political debate moved over here.

I'm the first person who'll criticize the hypocrisy of hyping one set of deaths while downplaying another set. But media meta-commentary and the immediate reaction to death are two different things.

As someone who knew someone there, I'm grateful for all the efforts to keep that thread a place for more basic emotions like "holy shit" and "that is just crazy" and "hope your friend is okay."
posted by salvia at 10:25 PM on April 16, 2007


And they'd be organized by who and how?

Who organized the IRA? The Mujahideen? The Viet Cong? Who organized the Iraqi Insurgency? Who organized the 15 year olds in Somalia?

Small arms movements with little training take on the big scary military with asymmetrical warfare all the time through out history and all over the world.

It's not that I endorse the "Wolverines" scenario. I'm not sure US culture could support an armed rebellion at this point in time myself. But it's not that domestically citizens in the US don't have the weapons or the ability. Or that it is intrinsically impossible. Because FACTS prove its possible.

So your WRONG. Ok. Have the simple frigg'n integrity to admit it and move on.

...handful of misspellings and anti-US hyperbole into an argument for gun ownership...

...I know that you're naked in front of your computer, masturbating to the idea of the lone American standing against the big bad government...

Niiice. Jeebus.

I didn't want to go here. But you forced my hand with your insults. So. As long as your getting personally insulting let me have a stab at it.

It has needed to be said for some time (And I KNOW I'm not the only one).

Klang. Your problem is that THINK you are way smarter than you are. Which would be fine except you work SO hard to try and prove it. I'm not saying you're dumb. You're not. But brother. You are boring. Seriously, seriously, boring. And when your leap and are wrong about something you immediately turn asshole. You have to learn to back off and calm down.

I went to your "blog" once. So. You call your self a writer? Good luck with that, bro.

Let me tell you the truth. Your shit is boring. Dull. Insipid. Unimaginative. And so self-centered. Seriously. You have long way to go to call yourself a writer. A LONG way.

Let me give you a tip. Just becuase you got a good vocabulary doesn't mean you have anything interesting to say with it. Try having SOMETHING to say FIRST, bud.

And dude you write for a fifth rate COLLEGE paper. Stop calling your self a "writer" or "Journalist." Okay? You're a student. And a punk. Not that those are interchangeable. Except with you lately.

I would say "a hack" but you haven't even done anything to be called a hack FOR yet. So I wold just be forcing unfair insult on to you. Bu the rest? I am being more than fair. Frankly. I'm being reserved.

I'm not saying that maybe you won't develop talent. But you are so full of yourself it's embarrassing and pathetic. My copywriter and I last year when we first looked at your blog LAUGHED at how cliché and typically over-wrought college amatuer your writing was. On Race and you talk about Banana shopping? Yeah. Let's hear what some dork in Ann Arbor has to say about bananas and race.

So next time you feel froggy and want to jump and be all Mr. Internet Insult Tough Guy remember this: You KNOW you'd never have the balls to say any of that to anyones face. Ever. Never. In a million years. And we all know it to. You may want to keep that in mind for the future. Integrity wise.
posted by tkchrist at 11:11 PM on April 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


You're all a bunch of bitches and I'm coming around to backhand each of you personally.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:15 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm a little late to the party, but...

If you kids don't play nice, there will be no dessert!
posted by amyms at 11:29 PM on April 16, 2007


"Who organized the IRA? The Mujahideen? The Viet Cong? Who organized the Iraqi Insurgency? Who organized the 15 year olds in Somalia?"

Right. The IRA has been doing what lately? Disarming. The Viet Cong? Turned into a collapsed post-communist state. The Somalis? Fuck, you want to stand on them as "winners"? Your best argument comes from the Mujahideen, who "won" with the backing of the US when the Soviets left and have now become a bunch of Afghan rednecks. Insurgencies do not win wars; insurgencies only make occupying powers lose.

"I didn't want to go here. But you forced my hand with your insults. So. As long as your getting personally insulting let me have a stab at it."

Climb down offa your cross, Christ. You're the one that started with the "internet asshole" thing. Aside from that, I don't know what the fuck you're on about with the race and banana shopping thing, since it's not anything I remember writing. Feel free to drop a link if you can find it, otherwise I'll have to assume it's something that you've invented to make this story better. Second, forgive me if I don't take lectures on integrity too seriously from someone whose high points are lying about his life on Metafilter and writing for Almost Live.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Curiousity got the best of me klang, here's the link you were looking for.
posted by nerdcore at 12:19 AM on April 17, 2007


Ah, well, the reason why I didn't remembe writing that— it's a four-year-old LiveJournal entry. Googling my name or my blog title didn't turn up anything. I abandoned that thing a long time ago, and only really use it to read my friend's pages.
But yeah, attacking an LJ for not being well-written and for being self-centered and facile? OH NOES! I'd hate to think that I described it as stupid in my profile or anything.
posted by klangklangston at 12:26 AM on April 17, 2007


Talking about gun control now is like talking about climate change after an unusually hot summer's day.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:49 AM on April 17, 2007


That's a really good analogy, actually.
posted by klangklangston at 1:01 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Right. The IRA has been doing what lately? Disarming. The Viet Cong? Turned into a collapsed post-communist state [snip] ... only make occupying powers lose

Hahaha. That is what we are talking about there, Obfuscation Boy.

The Viet Cong... folding into the NVA... they WON. The IRA lasted nearly a hundred years and negotiated a settlement with a frigg'n empire.

Anyway so far you didn't address a single point that was made.

We were not even discussing the longevity of small arms insurrections. Just that that they OFTEN happen, build to larger weapons, and are "effective" tactically. Just like in Iraq.

Will you PLEASE admit you lost this argument. For the love of Pete.

I don't know what the fuck you're on about with the race and banana shopping thing

Yes. I assume this is you since it's off your live journal link. Absorb the brilliance.


Second, forgive me if I don't take lectures on integrity too seriously from someone whose high points are lying about his life on Metafilter and writing for Almost Live.


First you picture me naked and masturbating. Disturbing enough. Now your defaming me? You say I admitted "lying" about my life? Or I lied about Almost Live. Or Almost Live sucks? Not sure which.

Now certainly there are embellishment for dramatic effect, character shuffling, maybe collapsed time lines here and there, and buffed up things to be humorous, that much I admitted to (Note: I don't claim to be writer but perhaps you may want to look into that "embellishment" and "humor" thing).

I certainly wouldn't say I truly lied. I would say "fictionalized" based on true events. The point: To entertain. I never claimed to be a "journalist." You seemed to have missed that.

AS far as Almost Live? It was a lark in the frigg'n eighties. I just got out of college. Like I said. I'm not a writer. I don't claim to BE a writer. I did it it for fun. A hobby. I got nominated for local Emmy award for a bit. A comerical parody called "Plainway." I don't put it on my resume (Ok. Sometimes). But I don't claim it was genius or even very good.

What would you wish me to confirm? You will be embarrassed I guarantee you if you want this to go on. So If I were you I'd take that back (Mwhybark confirmed some of the meat what I have written about).

BTW. Everything I am saying to you now I would say to your face. That is my marker. Now this is not always the case. But usually. I don't like hurting peoples feelings. BUT. I don't like being character assassinated, either.

Anyway sparky, here is the deal. You have to make shit up to insult me. All I have to is tell you the truth. You want that to go on? I don't.

I say I'm sorry for calling you an asshole. You accept. So you say your sorry. I accept. We leave each other alone. Again. Deal?
posted by tkchrist at 1:03 AM on April 17, 2007


PS. Why do YOU get a BUY on some piece of shit blog you wrote only four years ago and I get shit for writing a one off for TV show TWENTY god damned years ago?
posted by tkchrist at 1:06 AM on April 17, 2007


klang, wow WTF???
posted by Roach at 1:22 AM on April 17, 2007


Way late to thread.

Jimbob, most of the gun owner's I know own them cause they like them. I knew a post-polio syndrome woman who shot a mugger in self defense, and she's one of the few who said she owned a gun expressly for self defense. I suppose she is a coward, but I don't blame her.

On handgun buyback:
Isn't there something better we could spend 19 billion plus dollars on? Especially if what I'm guessing about non-compliance comes true.

On banning ammunition that breaks up in the target:
If I had a gun for self defense, the first thing I'd do is buy Glaser safety slugs. That way I'd know the bullet would break up before it went through two walls and killed my neighbors. If anything, we should ban ammunition that over-penetrates.

On banning ammunition in general:
Much more practical idea than banning handguns, but all the serious shooters I know (three) have reloading presses in their garage.

On gun owners being law abiding:
Yeah, but they are constitution abiding first, and have their own interpretation of the unfortunately ambiguous first amendment.

On guns deterring tyranny in specific or general:
I guarantee that the Kathryn Johnson shooting and subsequent murder trial have the attention of police departments around the country. Ruby ridge probably had repercussions for the ATF agents involved, even if they weren't prosecuted, and Randy Weaver survived that little standoff (remarkably). I'm not saying it's a useful strategy for the gun owner and/or criminal, but there is a definite indirect support of some of your liberties. As for national tyranny, I think passive resistance is the best methodology for resistance, but a sniper rifle can do more to change a regime than a whole battalion sometimes.

For the record, I own one .22 caliber target pistol which I keep in a friend's safe who I go shooting with.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:06 AM on April 17, 2007


*whom* I go shooting with
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:07 AM on April 17, 2007


Also, while I acknowledge that the following fact does not argue against gun control being useful, the worst school mass murder in history involved a TNT bomb.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:10 AM on April 17, 2007


Flarbuse, I've never particularly wanted to carry a gun for self-defense (because I'm more likely to die in a car accident, and the suckers are heavy). I have carried pepper spray on occasion. However, the more stories I've hear from a cop buddy like the one about 7 officers wrestling with a meth addict freak for ten minutes because pepper spray, nightsticks, and those shotgun beanbag things had almost no effect on the guy, the more I think non-lethal weapons are never going to be as effective as bullets at stopping a violent individual.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:19 AM on April 17, 2007


morning. meant to post this last night.

I'm not comming after anyone in particular. I just think that they may still come in a lot handier that many believe.
posted by Balisong at 9:07 PM PST on April 16


Entirely possible. Glad you seem responsible. I want more people to be responsible. Any ideas?

I'm going to look at more bubbles and go to bed. 'Night all.

=====
On preview: Holeee fuck. I'm glad I went to bed when I did.
posted by lysdexic at 4:27 AM on April 17, 2007


See: Iraq. Civilians with guns have stopped the world's mightiest army in its tracks and are slowly bleeding it to death.

And yet the right-wingers are DISAPPOINTED that the army is not, well, acting like a crazed mass-murderer. They think everything would be better if the Pentagon "took the leash off" the troops and let them slaughter everyone (a year ago they were wondering why we didn't just MOAB Fallujah). Where was their support for an armed populace against a tyrannical government invasion then? They were salivating over how many civilians our boys could pop off.

Talking about gun control now is like talking about climate change after an unusually hot summer's day.

Except as I've noted many times before, any time it's even remotely chilly outside people who think they're clever announce global warming isn't real. Likewise, a guy goes nuts and starts killing everyone and the answer is we didn't live in a magical fairy town where every person owned a concealed 9mm and had crack aim and nerves of steel guaranteeing they would know how to handle the situation without any panic or mistakes. If it's not addressed immediately, it gets ingrained into the rhetoric. I learned that on the internet Al Gore invented.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:50 AM on April 17, 2007


I really think we've accomplished something real and constructive here today. Good job, team!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:55 AM on April 17, 2007


Klang, Christ:

Boys, you're BOTH pretty!
posted by empath at 5:25 AM on April 17, 2007


There are a couple of layers to the analogy which may or may not work depending on your opinions on gun control, but the main point was that this is the freak outlier event of all freak outlier events in the gun world. Extreme cases make bad law, and XQUZYPHYR is right to warn against another PATRIOT Act passed in hot blood.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:28 AM on April 17, 2007


Looks like world leaders like to troll too:

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the shooting underscored the problems of a U.S. "gun culture."

Um, sure, its all US socialization. That's why the killer is likely a Chinese national that came to the US less than a year ago.

And speaking of that, you have to love political lectures from China:

The shooting drew intense coverage by media in China. . .

"This incident reflects the problem of gun control in America," said Yuan, from the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a Beijing-based think tank. . .

Private citizens are forbidden from owning guns in China.


Yes and we should also work on that whole "speech control" and "vote control" thing too. Please China, please send us some more murderous sociopaths and then criticize our freedoms for your mess:

"Why are there were so many shooting incidents in American schools and universities?" said a comment posted on the popular Internet portal Sohu.com. "People should think why an American-educated student would take revenge against America?"

Yes, Americans brought this on themselves. What is it about our educational system that makes innocent Chinese boys do such horrible things?
posted by dgaicun at 5:30 AM on April 17, 2007


colonel klank - I don't know what the fuck you're on about with the race and banana shopping thing

hey, you don't even know what the fuck YOU'RE on about with that ...

tkchrist - PS. Why do YOU get a BUY on some piece of shit blog you wrote only four years ago and I get shit for writing a one off for TV show TWENTY god damned years ago?

you got paid, you got cred, and he's gotten jackshit for himself ... he's just jealous

most people with superiority complexes are
posted by pyramid termite at 5:33 AM on April 17, 2007


Ok. I've had my sleep, the kids are off to school, I'm drinking some (ugh) warm Pepsi, and I'm waiting for the [insert MANY bad words] plumber because of a surprise hot water leak.

Hobby horses are fine, high horses are not. Got it?

Bring it on!
posted by lysdexic at 5:59 AM on April 17, 2007


I just hope that tk, klang and pyramid are keeping their guns locked up tight, and with no bullets in them, until everyone calms down.

But if not, well, I imagine the three of them in that final scene in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, where the three gunslingers are in a three-way draw in the center of that big, circular graveyard.

You know klang's gonna die.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:01 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


*makes eerie whistle sound à la Morricone*
posted by Wolof at 6:08 AM on April 17, 2007


dgaicun - at the risk of sounding insensitive (never been to the US and this all seems as remote/near as Afghanistan or Colombia to me), I'm intrigued as to how this will play out propaganda-wise in China if it does prove to be a Chinese national that did it. I saw the Foreign Ministry spokesman was asked to comment on the Sun Times report but just deflected the question saying it was still under investigation.
They went full blare with the media coverage (including TV and official papers), I suspect in part hoping to score the kind of points you raise (thought there's commercial considerations too of course), but will have a bit of a challenge if it is "one of their own." Maybe they'll blame Counter Strike and close some more net cafes, might see stuff on the horrible isolation of study abroad and accusations of covert racism adding to mental pressure. Seen similar regarding Lu Gang at Iowa all those years back, despite it appearing it was personal issues that set him off.
On Chinese-language forums seen some predictable ugly crowing from the hyper-nationalists (sympathy too from the decent folks of course), including comments that even going to America will turn a good Chinese man bad.
posted by Abiezer at 6:14 AM on April 17, 2007


klangklangston and tkchrist are having an argument about who's a better writer? Klangston seems to be doing a better job in this thread.
posted by delmoi at 6:38 AM on April 17, 2007


Yeah, fellas? Could you make another thread about who's got the bigger...talent?

Or, BrotherCaine, could you get someone to shoot those high-horses out from under them? I'd ask quonsar, but he has terrible aim.

Going to work now. Gotta earn the $ for plumber.
posted by lysdexic at 6:43 AM on April 17, 2007


What is it about our educational system that makes innocent Chinese boys do such horrible things?

ABC News: Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old resident alien of the United States, a South Korean national and a Virginia Tech senior has been identified as the gunman in the shootings that left 33 people dead on the Virginia Tech campus Monday, as first reported by ABC News.
posted by y2karl at 6:54 AM on April 17, 2007


If he's a resident alien (has a Green Card), he didn't get here last year.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:11 AM on April 17, 2007


TK, as I read it, you were the first to jump ugly with klang with the asshole remark. And he responded with the naked masturbator remark. Then you go all special forces on him and whip out the ranger choke hold. Since you are a writer, you must know that you lost the sympathy of your audience there.

Klang didn't deserve that, and it was bad form linking to the livejournal musings. We all have articles or diary entries that we would rather forget. Klang can be contentious and irritating, but he is no matteo. He contributes a lot of good to the site too. And has for a long time. I hope you two can kiss and make up, because life is too damn short for this shit.
posted by vronsky at 7:14 AM on April 17, 2007


What an ugly thread.
To try and get it back on track. After the 'Port Arthur Massacre' our (Australian) Prime Minister appeared in a [sorry, a couple of top-heavy links here, scroll or find] flak jacket to make a speech and we pay a Medicare levy as a 'gun buy back scheme'. That was back in 1996 on the back of the Port Arthur incident and he's still in power now (do any of your US Presidency aspirants have it on their platform)? I don't know that it has reduced civilian (as opposed to criminal shootings) but we haven't had any school shootings and the last civilian incident I can recall was the Hoddle Street massacre.
posted by tellurian at 7:17 AM on April 17, 2007


See how you made it about you? Congratulations! Everything should always be twisted around to be about you, even if it is a distant event with no direct bearing on your daily affairs.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2007


I did see an article that said something about the police suspecting a 25 year old Chinese person who had gotten a student visa in Shanghai. I'm guessing they had a pretty specific person in mind, but must have been thinking of the wrong guy.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 AM on April 17, 2007


klangklangston and tkchrist are having an argument about who's a better writer? Klangston seems to be doing a better job in this thread.

lol! like *you're* equipped to judge.
posted by quonsar at 7:42 AM on April 17, 2007


From way back in the thread: Has there ever been a case of capturing one of these shooters alive?

Yes, there have been some:

John Jason McLaughlin
Huan Xiang
Charles Andrew Williams
Todd Cameron Smith
Andrew Golden and Mitchell Johnson
Kip Kinkel
Michael Carneal
Luke Woodham

(just looking at some of the more recent incidents)

There was an excellent Frontline episode several years ago looking in depth at Kip Kinkel. I found it notable in that it presented a complex combination of causes for Kinkel's actions, with no single one predominating.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:47 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


See how you made it about you?
????
posted by tellurian at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2007


lol! like *you're* equipped to judge.
posted by quonsar at 7:42 AM on April 17 [+]
[!]


"BANG!"

did it work?

Aaaaanyway. DA, that's one scary story - several scary stories. This is where I wish we could get the culture to shift some.

Dog help us, the parents gave him a bigger gun *after* he stopped taking his anti-depressants.
posted by lysdexic at 8:06 AM on April 17, 2007


While not a school shooting, Sylvia Seegrist was captured after going on a rampage in a local mall a little more than 20 years ago.

"I'm a woman," she mumbled, "and I have family problems and I have seizures."

"Why did you do this?" the guard asked. "Why did you shoot these people?"

"My family makes me nervous," was the woman's strange response. She insisted that she had not meant to do it.

posted by The Straightener at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2007


the 'Port Arthur Massacre' our (Australian) Prime Minister appeared ... to make a speech and we pay a Medicare levy as a 'gun buy back scheme'. That was back in 1996 on the back of the Port Arthur incident and he's still in power now ... I don't know that it has reduced civilian (as opposed to criminal shootings) but we haven't had any school shootings [elisions mine]

Yes, you have.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:43 AM on April 17, 2007


Re: private gun owners stopping tyranny, let me quote from a comment in this thread.
When I was growing up, gun ownership was pretty much 1-to-1 for the populace, kids included. That didn't stop a president from declaring martial law and suspending the rule of democratic institutions. Marcos maintained power by maintaining the loyalty of the military, and there's not much that a revolver or carbine can do against a tank or helicopter gunship.

You know what got rid of Marcos? Shame, sympathy and peaceful protest. In some cases, wringing your hands does work.
Our system of checks and balances is the best protection we have against tyranny, but it's eroding fast. Maybe I missed something, but I don't see that the "guns will save us" crowd too upset about it.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:06 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow... the thread has turned into a mindfield of dodging trollism - yet with my luck I manage to read one of the creepier comments (that someone has 27 guns - a fellow MeFi no less)...
posted by rmm at 9:07 AM on April 17, 2007


There are an estimated 7.4 million firearms in Canada, about 1.2 million of which are restricted firearms (mostly handguns). In the U.S., there are approximately 222 million firearms; 76 million of the firearms in circulation are handguns.

these figures blow my fucking ass off. what percentage of people own enough firearms to equip almost every person in the country over the age of 18? I don't think the majority of americans own guns, but now I'm starting to wonder.
posted by shmegegge at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2007


Guns don't blow shmegegge's ass off, figures do.

sorry
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:30 AM on April 17, 2007


For those of you with reading comprehension problems: I am NOT a frigg'n writer. There was no "writing contest" going on. I occasionally tell stories and in that process write them down. Occasionally I get paid for it. There is a big difference. I don't waltz around calling myself a writer. I waltz - more of minuet actually - around calling myself El Presidente occasionally.

I used his writing against him becuase
A) He ALWAYS pompously mentions how he is a "writer" and "journalist" when he is not.
B). I knew criticizing that would cut deeper that just proving him wrong and calling him names.
C) it's true - he is boring a box of frigg'n nails.

I'm not proud of it. But insulting somebody, like sex with a dwarf, only SEEMS like a good idea at the time.

And why I went after klang in the first place was his original response to Malor which was sooo typically klang being a needless jerk. On top that being so obviously factually being wrong. And he dug in deeper and deeper into an idiotic fallacious argument. Anyway. Saying what somebody says is being assholish is far different than charachter assassination.

People have to know if they defame or get personal with some one it comes at a price. ow I am not innocent in that regard. However. You all know he does that ALL the time and then skips town when he wrong instead of apologizing. He needed to be taken down a notch.

AS for the matter at hand? lysdexic I agree with you 100%.
posted by tkchrist at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2007


One only has to see my grammar and spelling to know I am not a writer. I am barely a reader.
posted by tkchrist at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2007


shmegegge: what percentage of people own enough firearms to equip almost every person in the country over the age of 18? I don't think the majority of americans own guns, but now I'm starting to wonder.

According to the NORC General Social Survey, the percentage of US households with at least one gun is 35%. The graph on the last page of this report shows the historical figures.

tkchrist: He needed to be taken down a notch.

Look, on the Internet, responding to personal attacks with escalation doesn't work--it's like throwing gasoline on a fire.

I really hope this dispute between you and klangklangston isn't going to turn into one of those ugly decade-long Internet feuds.
posted by russilwvong at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2007


Aw shit. Missed my chance to jump between klang and tk screeching "No, boys! Stop this, I beg you. Stop this ad hominem assholery!" and tossing my hair about with fiery desperation. I slept in.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:57 AM on April 17, 2007


I don't think the majority of americans own guns, but now I'm starting to wonder.

About 40% of American households own guns. They are all, of course, cowards, as noted above; the definition of "coward" having been changed from "someone whose prudence or fear overwhelms their courage" to... well, I'm not certain, actually.

It's always amusing to me to see the total disconnect between gun reality and gun perception. We have 222 million firearms in this country -- deadly deadly scary things, supposedly -- and yet only about 30,000 people die from them each year. And more than half of those are suicides. Meanwhile, our crappy food is killing us by the millions, our cars are killing us by the hundreds of thousands, and our environment is gearing up to kill damn near everybody. Yet a suggestion even close to as draconian as what I'm seeing upthread (let's ban ammo! Let's jail people who sell it! Let's mark every bullet in America!) would be considered totally insane if it related to food (let's ban sugar!) or cars (well, we can't ban gas, but how about transmission fluid?) or the environment (track every lump of coal!) The reaction is just utterly out of proportion to the actual danger of guns.

You want me to "grow some fucking balls"? It's physically impossible, but hey, I'm willing to try just as soon as some of you grow some fucking perspective.
posted by vorfeed at 10:01 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


responding to personal attacks with escalation doesn't work--it's like throwing gasoline on a fire.

I am genuinely interested in any method that does work. By 'work,' I mean 'has the effect of getting the person to quit being a dick.' The ones that I tried just wound up stimulating him to make all later discussions even more personal.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I may be wrong, but it seems to me that a lot of the people here have never met a real, honest-to-God gun enthusiast. My grandfather was one. When he died, he left behind over a hundred guns (many, I suspect, unregistered). He was not kill-crazy. He was a hunter, an ex-prison guard and a one-time champion target-pistol marksman. He read the Shotgun Bible and went to gun shows. He also hand-made bone handled knives.

If this seems terrifying to some of you, then you've never met one of these people. There was nothing frightening about him -- oh, sure, he had that old Ozarks steel in him, and I would pity someone who broke into his house in the middle of the night. But he never killed a man (although he once drove a man to his hanging, an incredible story). He respected and loved guns, even though his uncle was murdered with one in 1932. To many people, guns are a part of life. This is not evil.

I'm proud to own one of his pistols (but not here in New York City, where I'd go to jail for it). It's men like my grandfather and uncles (all Democrat, by the way) who you alienate from your causes when you assume that a love for guns must be paired with anger, hatred and a blood-fetish.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:11 AM on April 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I am genuinely interested in any method that does work. By 'work,' I mean 'has the effect of getting the person to quit being a dick.'

bears repeating.
posted by shmegegge at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2007


vorfeed writes "First of all, let me suggest that the culture has a lot more to do with this than the guns. There are several European countries in which a comparable percentage of households own guns -- Norway, Switzerland, and Finland are all above 20% due to their national defense policy, yet their homicide statistics are mostly in line with similar countries in Europe. Canada isn't European, but they have nearly as many guns as we do, including lots of handguns, and they don't have nearly the same homicide problem. "

The hidden causal factor here is foreskins. Americans crave firearms as a phallic totem, to compensate for their lack of foreskins. Europeans, being in full possession of their god-given membranes, obviously aren't filled with the same sense of murderous rage over the mutilation of their infant penises.

;-)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2007


To many people, guns are a part of life. This is not evil.

funny story. i have a friend who lives sort of in the mountains of upstate new york. he's always been an anti-gun sort of a guy and when he got married to a lovely woman with a daughter that position was only made stronger. one day a bear broke into their house, rooting through their pantry. in a panic they call the sherriff, and if I remember the story correctly were told "well, see if you can scare it off with your gun, but be careful. i'm on my way."

"um... we don't own a gun."

"... you don't own a gun?"

"don't believe in them, officer. i have a kid in the house, you see."

"well, now you have a bear in the house... you see."

true story, to the best of my recollection. this is not to chime in strongly against gun control or anything silly like that. rather, it's to illustrate support of the idea that guns do seem to be a part of life for a bunch of people, and that that is not necessarily evil in and of itself. when someone tells me "i'd never have a gun in my house because i have kids" i think "excellent! more power to you!" and when someone says "i keep a gun in my house so the bears don't eat me," i think "excellent! more power to you!"

perhaps, and i'm just spitballin' here, the issue isn't quite simple enough for any blanket treatment under law in either direction.
posted by shmegegge at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


and tossing my hair about with fiery desperation.

I pictured that, too. But, just when I thought I had won you over with my bold machismo and we were about to embrace you hit me over the head with a bottle of bourbon and began making out with the piano player. Why must you always do that Ambrosia? Why?

Look, on the Internet, responding to personal attacks with escalation doesn't work--it's like throwing gasoline on a fire.

Like I said I am not proud. However more than a few of you are secretly glad I went after him. Admit it. I can tell by the favorites. Not that THAT speaks well to our natures.

I know I am not the most likable guy at times. But if anything I'm self effacing know when to admit I am wrong. One might say humble. The most humble man on earth. No. The UNIVERSE!

Klag is a pain in the ass know it all sometimes. We ALL know this. I'm not saying he doesn't contribute. He does. But his default response to everybody is to Ad Hom. Immediately. So who want to suffer through that? Sometimes you WANT to respond to his good ideas but then you never know if he is gonna be dick so you don't.

I appointed my self sheriff. Perhaps that takes an election. Okay. Bad choice. Next time I feel like deputizing myself I will submit first to the will of the people.
posted by tkchrist at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2007


Norway, Switzerland, and Finland are all above 20% due to their national defense policy, yet their homicide statistics are mostly in line with similar countries in Europe.

The hidden causal factor here is foreskins.


Well, either that or decent cheese. I know I get a sense of murderous rage every time somebody mentions Kraft Singles.
posted by vorfeed at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2007


The hidden causal factor here is foreskins...I get a sense of murderous rage every time somebody mentions Kraft Singles.

Hmmm. Individual wrappings seem to be key here.
posted by jonmc at 10:38 AM on April 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Like I mentioned in my first post in this thread we have a bizzare and violent culture. We always have had. This is not always a bad thing. A frontier culture - a new nation experimenting with new ideas on a wild continent - you really need a population of crazy bastards.

There were several filters that have distilled our national charachter over time.

First the people that wold want to come here at all from a perfectly good civilized continent, Europe. The Pirates. The religious nuts. Anti-authoritarian types. No everybody. But certainly a good share of our cultural personality started with these people.

Second getting here at all was pretty rough. Living here required a very aggressive attitude most of the time. Then settling the west... think about it. Many of the meeker folks didn't make it at all.

So our cultural tradition of the "rugged" individual automatically pre-selects an aggressive perspective. And then we have guns everywhere.

Our culture must change. It HAS changed before. In big ways. We can change it again. If we can prove to people that they are safe by--- actually making them safe--- that would be a good start.

Start with legalizing drugs first off.
posted by tkchrist at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2007


"i keep a gun in my house so the bears don't eat me," i think "excellent! more power to you!"

Unless that person lives in Manhattan.

Then either it's time to walk away... slowly. Or. He knows something you don't. And it's time to walk away FAST.
posted by tkchrist at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2007


*cracks open the old bitcionary*

klang·bang /gӕŋˈbæŋg/
-noun
1. a messy pile on involving klang and several others counter-dicking one another in rapid succession.

klang·tan·gle /klӕŋˈtæŋgəl/
–noun
1. a tangled or confused mass or assemblage of cleverness and ad hominem assholery without merit.

klang·wran·gle /klӕŋˈræŋgəl/
–verb (used without object)
1. to bristle at an ad hominem attack, esp. in a noisy or angry manner.
–verb (used with object, ie klang)
2. to subdue an asshole with casual and restrained display of assplumage or other forms of cleverness, esp. employing adept spelling.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kirth Gerson: I am genuinely interested in any method that does work. By 'work,' I mean 'has the effect of getting the person to quit being a dick.'

Link to Please Stop The Asshattery?

Interestingly, the MetaFilter community seems to be pretty good at getting people to moderate their behavior--a number of times I've seen people here come back and say, sorry, that was too harsh, I was being an asshole (it's been a bad week, or whatever). I'm not sure exactly how, though. And of course it doesn't work on everyone.

My usual approach is to rephrase what the person said, leaving out the inflammatory parts and making their points in a reasonable way, and then to respond to that.

tkchrist: However more than a few of you are secretly glad I went after him.

Not me. It's just ... ugly. I like both of you, so I'm not cheering for one side or the other; it's more like watching a trainwreck.
posted by russilwvong at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007


He also [owned] hand-made bone handled knives.

Yes. Made out of HITCHHIKERS!

I keed. I keed. Most of my family is just like your grandpa.
posted by tkchrist at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007


Or. He knows something you don't. And it's time to walk away FAST.

at least faster than him.
posted by shmegegge at 10:52 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bookhouse: Not to sound morbid, but I would love to hear that story.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:55 AM on April 17, 2007


Bookhouse, as far as handgun owners I've met, the irresponsible idiots far outweigh the one responsible owner. He was a nice guy, my friend's dad, but I still don't understand why he thought he needed that gun. As far as the idiots, yes, I've been terrified. I'm talking real idiots--teenagers with violent streaks who kept guns under thier drivers seats, my racist and paranoid former boss with the gun in his desk, and the nutjobs with hero fantasies. A girl I went to high school with was shot by her boyfriend, who then killed himself (she lived). My mom's cousin was shot in the head during a hold-up (he lived, major impairment). The father of a friend of mine used to bring out the gun during family arguments. A student where I used to teach evening English classes was shot in the leg (drive-by, mistaken identity). There were shootings in my old neighborhood way too often--once one right down the block while a visitor was waiting for me to buzz her in. So pardon me for thinking there's something fucked up with this country's gun culture.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:02 AM on April 17, 2007


“when was the last time that someone successfully held off the authorities by being armed?”

For clarification:
False dillemma there. It’s not “the authorities” one fights. That’s ridiculous. If you have to stand and take on the whole police force you’re making a serious error of course.
A bit back up here we had a case of a police officer robbing houses. Explain to me where going out and marching is going to stop that.
Firearms are very useful where your life is being immediately threatened. Indeed, if you discover a police officer robbing you, he’s probably going to have to kill you. I think it’s a bit disingenuous to not recognize the difference between abuse of power versus legitimate authority.
Furthermore, if the folks at Ruby Ridge had not been armed there wouldn’t have been a problem. That was one of the issues. Potentially dangerous people with very extremist points of view had firearms. However - had they not been armed, the authorities could have killed them all and we wouldn’t have heard thing one about it.
Additionally, some courts have ruled that citizens can’t generally resist or use force against police who enter illegally or are acting illegally. Up to you to decide whether your life is in immediate danger or not. And of course, not everyone who says they are a cop or carries a badge, actually is.
And it’s presumptive to think anyone advocates using force against the police when there’s any other option remaining. There are many methods to stop police abuse. Firearms are for the immediate situation when all else has failed.

“And that's with MILITARY hardware, which has long been out of the reach of American citizens.”

Actually there is a wealth of information on the use of snipers and guerilla tactics on how to take on masses of infantry.
It’s not at all that hard, most particularly with the aid of the local populace. The IRA lasted more than 100 years against one of the finest combat infantry forces in the world. (I say masses of infantry mostly because only very rarely will government forces use force beyond infantry within their own territory. Too much collateral damage and sympathy generated for partisans). And as an individual - kill one soldier - you’ve got military hardware. Guerilla tactics 101 - you live off your enemy.
But those are two separate arguments: the use of firearms against individual and immediate abuses - as well as against criminals, et.al. vs. taking on the “authorities.”
But you can take on military forces. What you’re ultimately saying is that armed revolt is impossible and only unarmed pressure can ever be successful. And that’s simply ridiculous, not only from a historic perspective, but once a government begins to turn toward totalitarianism forms of unarmed resistance begin to lose their effectiveness. Hell, we have “free speech zones” now.
This is not to say nearly any form of non-violent protest isn’t far far more preferable.
Lemme reiterate that because many folks like to fixate on the pro-gun parts like “oh, you said ‘armed revolt!’” and miss the “when all else fails” part: nearly any form of non-violent protest is far far more preferable.

“but the fact is that Iraq is LOSING the war”

Iraq isn’t FIGHTING the war. And if the small group of people who the U.S. is fighting there are losing - who’s winning? Hell, I don’t even know what the objectives are or the criteria for “winning” is. And on that note:

“The IRA has been doing what lately? Disarming.”

Because they’ve actually reached a point where many of their objectives have been met. And they’re willing to compromise. The objective of the fighting was to reach that point (already expressed, thought it was worth reiterating). That aside, Michael Collins had no formal military training and he loads of grief to the black and tans and he had nowhere near the resources the British had.
Fantasy my ass. If I could run an organization half as successfully as Collins I could change the course of the country tomorrow. If there was will enough for an armed insurrection, the ‘how’ of it is a fairly well traveled road.


“We have 222 million firearms in this country -- deadly deadly scary things, supposedly -- and yet only about 30,000 people die from them each year.” - posted by vorfeed

More people drown in home pools I understand. I also think the reaction is disproportionate, but from a certain perspective one death from a firearm is one too many. And it can be argued that ... aw hell, damn little introspection here. Why should I put forth the effort really? (Not talking about you vorfeed)
Very little honest look at the issues and basic concepts that support our own perspectives, whole lotta persuasive argument going on.

I get the gun control arguments, I do. I don’t understand why it’s so closed to enquiry or subject to distortion. I mean the issue deserves to be hashed over, looked at, weighed. And yet you state a reasonable case and it’s blown out of proportion.
“Yeah, some cops might get out of line, and if it comes a cop trying to kill you because he can’t have you witnessing him robbing you’re house, well, you might have to...”
“THEY HAVE ATTACK HELICOPTERS! YOU CAN’T FIGHT THOSE!!!!!!”

I mean wtf.
Even the label “gun nuts.”
So, police officers are “gun nuts” are they? If we’re going to ban guns, should the police have them?
I dunno, I think more is served by asking questions than by blaring a viewpoint at people. I’d prefer some genuine argument so I can rethink my position. Being called a gun nut, really isn’t going to do that for me.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


klangklangston and tkchrist are having an argument about who's a better writer? Klangston seems to be doing a better job in this thread.

Klang's a very good speller.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:16 AM on April 17, 2007


First the people that wold want to come here at all from a perfectly good civilized continent, Europe.

you mean those who were either starved or persecuted out of that oh-so-civilized continent back in the day....
posted by jonmc at 11:19 AM on April 17, 2007


It's really false to say the IRA lasted 100 years; not as a continuous institution anyway. I'd certainly grant that the Republican tradition sustained, but the physical force element waxed and waned.
From my sketchy recall, there's a long hiatus with little activity between the end of the civil war and the Official/Provo split; the Northern Campaign of the 40s didn't amount to much and the Border Campaign of the 50s is widely seen as royal fuck-up.
posted by Abiezer at 11:20 AM on April 17, 2007


First the people that wold want to come here at all from a perfectly good civilized continent, Europe.

you mean those who were either starved or persecuted out of that oh-so-civilized continent back in the day....


I think that was actually his point, jon -- we started off with the dregs of a civilized society, people who fled to an entirely unknown land to escape whatever they were facing in Europe.
posted by LionIndex at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2007


we started off with the dregs of a civilized society, people who fled to an entirely unknown land to escape whatever they were facing in Europe.

Actually, excepting the original settlers, the pilgrims and other puritans who came here to isolate themselves from larger society, we "started off" with a landed aristocratic ruling class. These are still pretty much the same people that are in charge today. In fact, people like GWB are mostly directly descended from them.

The dregs didn't come until much later.
posted by psmealey at 11:42 AM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boy, I can't keep up. I mean I like klang for the number of times he's handed some deserving soul's ass to him far better than I could have done even if I'd thought it was worth bothering. But he's totally lost me with the odd scattershot self-important rant in which he manages to indiscriminately abuse everyone around. At least I think that was him, I don't pay _that_ much attention; forgive me if I'm thinking of someone else. OTOH, tkchrist is one of the most destroyingly good raconteurs around the place, so much so that long and painful attempts to imitate him have become a cottage industry among unfunny favorite-whores, greatly increasing the noise level around here. Not really his fault, though. Call it a wash.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2007


"But can we stop pandering to the individuals who aren't mature enough to have adult discussions about relevant topics?"

If we did that Metafilter would be very spare and lonely place. This is another long thread I very quickly gave up on.
posted by davy at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2007


We have guns in the house. Mostly rifles. Hubby is from out west (BIG gun culture there) and likes to go to the local firing ranges.

I'm not a big fan of guns (I haven't learned to shoot one altho I keep meaning to get around to it) but I am against a gun ban, as I see absolutely no way to keep gunrunners from making sure criminals get guns whether or not I could have one.

Meanwhile my parents live in the boonies, where their only protection from an intruder is their own firepower. Where they live, you DO NOT knock on someone's door in the middle of the night unless they are expecting you, cuz they all got guns out there.

Can guns be dangerous? Heck yes. But it isn't worth taking away our right to bear arms for "greater safety" since for some of us it would really mean LESS safety.
posted by konolia at 12:02 PM on April 17, 2007


Not to sound morbid, but I would love to hear that story.

I guess this thread can't get much more derailed as is.

Well, it was around 1956 when the guards at the Federal Medical Prison drew straws to see who would have to drive Inmate Hernandez, a murderer who had killed a man and a woman with a shotgun, to Leavenworth to be hanged. (My grandfather, when telling these stories, would always refer to prisoners as "Inmate X.") My grandfather, pretty new on the job, was one of the two guards who drew the short straws and would get, in effect, a daylong roadtrip outside of prison walls -- the downside being that the man in the back seat was going to his death. My grandpa said that they drove pretty much in silence the whole way -- its about a six-hour trip one-way. Not an exact quote, but my grandpa summed it up to me like this: "Now, Inmate Hernandez never said a thing to me but 'please,' and 'thank you' when we got him water or took him to use the bathroom. He showed respect and he didn't break down. He never did any wrong to me. But he killed those poor people with a shotgun, and he had to be put down, and he knew it. But he didn't let it wreck him as a man."

They took Inmate Hernandez to Leavenworth and transferred him to the guards, who would then take him to be killed. My grandpa didn't stay to watch the hanging. He had dinner in Kansas City with the other guard (and, if I had to guess, probably had a little to drink) and then drove back to Springfield.

The respect my grandfather had for this man for going to his death bravely -- and his ability to simultaneously believe the man needed to die -- impressed me a lot.

posted by Bookhouse at 12:09 PM on April 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


painful attempts to imitate him have become a cottage industry among unfunny favorite-whores, greatly increasing the noise level around here.

yes. I have been meaning to bring that up at the next Fan Club meeting.

I tell them over and over. Be yourself. I'm more like meat. Use me more for flavoring than a main course. Otherwise if you over do me you will just make the thread logy and need to take nap - and eventually have a stroke.
posted by tkchrist at 12:31 PM on April 17, 2007


As far as guns preventing totalitarianism, just look at Iraq. Before saddam fell, everyone owned guns, and they still are allowed one AK47 per household.
posted by delmoi at 12:34 PM on April 17, 2007


i would like to say that when Bookhouse said his grandfather once drove a man to his hanging that I thought he meant that in the sense of having driven a man to suicide. the story is still interesting, but far less morbid than i was expecting.
posted by shmegegge at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ha.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:01 PM on April 17, 2007


except it was when I was discussing the subject that people really started jumping up and down on me.

by my count the last thing you said before I criticised you and thereby forever entered the halls of villainy in your mind was to make some smart-ass bullshit remark to EB. before THAT, you made 2 absurd comments equating a fallacious lack of media coverage on gun control issues after school shootings to your totally baseless assertion that this thread represents some form of censorship.

take your martyr complex elsewhere. if you don't want people calling you on your shit, then don't start shit.
posted by shmegegge at 1:14 PM on April 17, 2007


Wow, I can't believe I read the whole thing.

Two cents, adjusted for inflation: There really are circumstances where guns are, without a doubt, necessary. The bear story above (and its identical repetition thousands of times across the country), numerous acts of lives saved by those with CCWs, and of course those who truly cannot wait for the police to show up (ranchers, hikers, etc).

Then there are circumstances where guns are nice. Target shooting, tinkering, gunsmithing, and, yes, even hunting are recreational activities that hurt no-one if done properly.

But what we always end up talking about is the third and fourth categories of gun ownership, the rabid nut who goes apeshit and opens up with some scary gun and the freedom fighter defending his land against tyranny, American flag waving at his back.

The first one is tragic, the second vaguely silly. One is a fear, the other a dark fantasy, but they share striking similarity in their rarity. This recent incident is so shocking because it is so rare. People just don't often go nuts and start shooting innocent bystanders randomly. As long as guns are available, a determined, superficially sane person can acquire a functionally unlimited supply of them, and very little will stop him or her from causing mayhem.

Likewise, as much as I can appreciate the fear of incipient fascism, governments unpopular enough to arouse a violent revolution of the people are pretty uncommon these days. Most of the world's governments are formed and toppled by mostly peaceful, stupidly color-coded revolutions that bely the very word. And good for them.

Tkchrist is right though, you'll be hard pressed to find an example of a dedicated, armed, partisan guerrilla force that lost. That's what I imagine the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the 27-odd words we're all arguing about. I don't want to drag this into a whole big Iraq debate, but putting myself in the position of Joe Muhammed in Tikrit, if an outside country invaded New York, I'd feel a lot more sympathy with some of the insurgents than the occupiers. Especially if, as has happened, some of those occupiers weren't exactly preoccupied with my safety and welfare as a human being.

Too many words already, but as many have said above, the problem isn't so much guns, it's the crazy people. Now why can't we have a crazy-people-control thread?

Mods, thank you for this thread. I think a rational, well-balanced gun control thread in the blue would be best, but this is an excellent second.
posted by Skorgu at 2:17 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought this thread got started in no small part due to people reacting violently to one resident wingnut going pre-emptively nasty ballistic over someone calling for gun control upon hearing about a mass shooting, because he was disgusted by some nasty left wing ideologues were gleefully--it couldn't possibly be because it raised an issue about which they cared deeply--exploiting a terrible tragedy to espouse a political viewpoint ...that he emphatically didn't share. Oh, wait, he complained because he cares so much about the community. He cares, their motives are disgusting. It couldn't possibly be that he was trying to shout down an opinion contrary to what he deeply believes. Never mind. My bad. Carry on.

...as I see absolutely no way to keep gunrunners from making sure criminals get guns whether or not I could have one.

So, didn't Cho Seung Hui just buy one of the guns he used a couple of days ago at a local Big Five or the equivalent ? I heard a report on NPR that he had the receipt in his back pack. He didn't even go to a gun show or anything like that. He just went in a store and bought it over the counter. You think it should be that easy ? As long as they didn't give out free as a party favor, it's OK ?
posted by y2karl at 2:36 PM on April 17, 2007


damn, CNN is mentioning gun control right now, a whole whopping 50-seconds segment -- let's hope our moderators delete that CNN segment as soon as possible, too -- CNN is scoring political points on the greatest tragedy to hit the Virginia educational system since desegregation.

because remember kids, what happened has nothing to do with guns, nothing -- it's like an earthquake, an act of god. nothing could have ever prevented it. certainly not cynical axe-grinders trying to score political points and trying to take rights away from Americans (the right to get slaughtered by a crazy fuck armed to the teeth, mostly). reality is partisan, too -- just ignore it, it'll go away (until the next massacre).

now if you'll excuse me, I have a few Marilyn Manson CDs to burn.

got to love those dots -- they're perfectly round little crocodile tears.
posted by matteo at 2:53 PM on April 17, 2007


delmoi writes: As far as guns preventing totalitarianism, just look at Iraq. Before saddam fell, everyone owned guns, and they still are allowed one AK47 per household.

But Iraqis were responsible gun owners! Americans are... ah, what the hell, let's give every household an AK47!

and a tactical nuke?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:54 PM on April 17, 2007


“As far as guns preventing totalitarianism, just look at Iraq.”

First: Guns don’t prevent totalitarianism. People prevent totalitarianism. Guns are merely tools with applications in specific circumstances.
Again “magical fairy dust” attitude. It doesn’t imbue it’s owner with any special properties of will or liberty seeking. It’s a tool. It has it’s uses in specific situations. Much like an allen wrench. You don’t need one until you need one.

Secondly - I keep hearing that little gem. Something the Michael Moore fans should probably have added up at some point in Bowling for Columbine is the disparity in gun ownership.
Weapons distribution began on a large scale during the war with Iran. The Iraqi government handed out AK-47s to tribal leaders, Baath party members, decommissioned soldiers and the like.
Then the gun giveaways dramatically escalated (according to the then deputy PM Aziz) when troops were deployed by the Bush administration.
Strangely, Shiite Muslims who made up about 55 percent of the population, didn’t get guns handed to them by the Iraqi government.

Furthermore - purely philosophically, divorced from the above facts - what does it say about our mission there that under Saddam there were guns aplenty, but now the the new order is only the government is authorized to have weapons?

And remember the capture of Saddam? Weird how there was lots of TV footage of happy Iraqis dancing and shooting their AK-47s in the air when the occupying forces had/have strict gun-control regulations.

Strange how every other unpopular dictatorial leadership feels the need to ban guns.
Strange how people who apparently were toting assault rifles around let lightly armed looters rampage through their stores, museums and homes.
Strange how with all the guns around private security should flourish so. But that seems to be the ‘Rosie O’Donnell’ ideal. No one has guns, except for one’s bodyguards. And of course, in that regard the privileged and masses are equal. We are equally forbidden from sleeping in the street and equally free to hire our own bodyguards in leiu of firearm ownership.

I suppose the recognition of that latter bit is another reason why I am ultimately pro-gun. Police protection doesn’t seem to be - on the whole - a very egalitarian system. Much like taxes, the big taxpayers seem to get the breaks. I tend to favor a national health care system for the same reasons, some things - health, security, etc. shouldn’t be commodities. You have a basic right to them - barring that - an equal right to access to them. Dunno, maybe that’s flawed in the details somewhere, but that’s the base.

“Now why can't we have a crazy-people-control thread?”

Budget cuts.

“You think it should be that easy ? As long as they didn't give out free as a party favor, it's OK ?”

Yeah, I’d support some of the measures (upthread) to follow up on bullets fired. I know there are listening posts in some cities that listen for gunfire. Nice idea.
I’d like to see a more equal and even system.
You start in county A - you can have your dog, shotgun, quart of whiskey and a box of fireworks in your lap. One county over, your shotgun has to be broken down and in a box, in the trunk, locked up, under a blanket, with signs and flashers. Next county - more different rules.
I don’t know how that’d be overseen though. I’m sure there are ways. But even the various IGs and the GAO has been politicised. Tough to make something ironclad that’s not subject to political corrosion. But there’s no excuse for what happened at VT.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:58 PM on April 17, 2007


“Now why can't we have a crazy-people-control thread?”

Budget cuts.


This may sound strange but I think a significant problem is our ignorance of loneliness.

Most of these guys who do this spree killing shit are terminally lonely people. Often above average intelligence who just can not connect socially and they get isolated.

I bet nobody ever approached this guy and said "Hey man, uh, what's with all the murder fantasy stuff... you okay?"

In our society that kind of thing is seen as rude.
posted by tkchrist at 3:37 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or just hard, tkchrist. Shouldn't be so, but there you go: the people who need care/attention/friendship the most can be the hardest to give it to.

We wouldn't have so many mentally ill people on the street if it easy to deal with them, which is a great big clusterfuck of a human dilemma.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:43 PM on April 17, 2007


He just went in a store and bought it over the counter. You think it should be that easy?

Have you ever actually bought a gun over the counter? If so, you'd know that Hui had to pass a federal criminal background check before he got that gun, and in doing so his name and address were recorded along with the serial number of the gun. Virginia also has an additional state-based background check on top of that. I'm not sure what else you want, here -- what possible vetting method is going to stop sane-one-day-and-crazy-the-next people from buying guns, without denying guns to everybody else in the process? I do not see how regulations are ever going to stop somebody who is determined and vicious enough to chain a door shut and then methodically shoot everyone inside. Laws just aren't going to do the trick, given that the consequences of the ones banning mass murder are already just a tad more serious than the ones regarding handgun ownership.

But that seems to be the ‘Rosie O’Donnell’ ideal. No one has guns, except for one’s bodyguards. And of course, in that regard the privileged and masses are equal.

Yeah, this is one reason why you'd think liberals would be more into gun rights. This issue has always been partly about class and race -- check out this pro-gun article from Harper's for more on that -- and laws like California's restrictive sales requirements & magazine size limit and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban have historically done nothing but inflate the prices of allowable guns, thus keeping the poor and middle-class from legally owning weapons, while the rich can buy at their leisure. Bad enough that our police situation is awful, particularly for the poor; it's even worse when we criminalize the poor for arming themselves when the police fail them.
posted by vorfeed at 3:56 PM on April 17, 2007


Yes, you have.
posted by DevilsAdvocate

Sorry, I stand corrected. Totally missed that.
posted by tellurian at 4:28 PM on April 17, 2007


Hui had to pass a federal criminal background check before he got that gun, and in doing so his name and address were recorded along with the serial number of the gun. Virginia also has an additional state-based background check on top of that.

I see your point.

I'm not sure what else you want, here -- what possible vetting method is going to stop sane-one-day-and-crazy-the-next people from buying guns, without denying guns to everybody else in the process?

The denying guns to everybody else in the process concept does have its merits.

I guess I want to know is when did he get the gun and did he get it expressly for this killing spree ? There is something to be said for the power of human laziness--if it took more than a few days to get it, that might have made a difference.
posted by y2karl at 4:30 PM on April 17, 2007


I bet nobody ever approached this guy and said "Hey man, uh, what's with all the murder fantasy stuff... you okay?"

In our society that kind of thing is seen as rude.


Actually, acording to tonight's news, at least one teacher did just this, pulling him out of class and attempting private tutoring and trying to get him to a therapist. At least, that's what she said.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:31 PM on April 17, 2007


There is something to be said for the power of human laziness--if it took more than a few days to get it, that might have made a difference.

Good point. And not to trivialize the VT shooting, but that's what the 5 bucks MeFi membership is about*, isn't it? Keeps some of the loonies out anyway...

*Aside from, of course, making mathowie a fabulously wealthy man.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:38 PM on April 17, 2007


damn, CNN is mentioning gun control right now, a whole whopping 50-seconds segment -- let's hope blah blah blah I'm a worthless commentator who lacks empathy and covers it with an grossly overinflated self-image and deep dislike of anyone who dosen't respond exactly as I do blah blah blah I SUUUUUUUCK!

Fixed it for you.
posted by Snyder at 5:18 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It would be easier to legislate and enforce Pancake Control Laws, than gun control laws, and you can't make pancake control laws, cuz you will have to take my pancakes from my cold, dead hands.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:40 PM on April 17, 2007


The denying guns to everybody else in the process concept does have its merits.

Sure, if by "merits" you mean criminalizing millions of Americans and removing any government oversight of the gun trade. I mean, Prohibition and the Drug War worked so well, I can't see how a Gun War could possibly go wrong!

And again, somebody who's actually willing to do what Hui did is not going to be any more than inconvenienced by even a total gun ban. The black market will always exist, and the more you restrict an item, the more profitable it becomes to black-marketeers. I think we as a nation have a very strong interest in keeping guns widely available and legal, and therefore at least somewhat regulated! Look into the underground gun markets in places like Pakistan and Iraq sometime, and tell me you really want anything-goes underground weapons trading happening in the US...
posted by vorfeed at 5:42 PM on April 17, 2007


“And not to trivialize the VT shooting, but that's what the 5 bucks MeFi membership is about*, isn't it?”

I have to second what some other folks have said here. That’s kind of what MeFi is about. I mean there is a good deal of consensual validation, checking of ideas and such. And yes it’s fairly rough and tumble and gets out of bounds sometimes, but that form of community is exactly what’s missing from firearm ownership. I don’t know that the government should or could do something (and I mean exactly that - I don’t know). But certainly there should be support, and there probably is a lot of voluntary support out there. I know there is in Illinois. But you have to join them, they don’t generally come to you.
I know many folks who go to the range and you can spot some of the screwier ones.
(Classic range story - I was shooting next to a guy who had hung a photo of President Bush on the target and was firing away. Once the photo got chewed up too bad, he dug into his bag and brought out another photo, of Bush, and hung it on the target.
When he took a break I squeezed his shoulder and got his attention and I asked him “So...what are you shooting there?”
He said “Glock G17 chambered to shoot 9x21.” Then he smiled and said: Want to try it?”)
(he wasn’t interested in shooting the prez, btw - we got to talking about the NIS’ model 19’s chambered for the same round. Nice guy. Just proud of his custom hardware and likes to blow off steam in a kind of an odd way.)
And you have unhealthy obsessions in other circles, some guy in my rugby club is drinking too much, I’d go and talk to him about it. But that’s the thing, this guy was (apparently) isolated.
I don’t know of any way to really stop a motivated loner from gaming any system over time to do serious damage. Look at the unibomber. There are few traits more dangerous than patience.
I mean if anything you don’t want to shut the loonies out, you want to bring them in and engage them. If you feel part of the community and empowered and part of and invested in the process, you’re not going to flip out.
I don’t think that the responsible gun owners have the duty to engage everyone who purchases a pistol, but I certainly think there is no one else with more of a vested interest in making sure individuals like this don’t feel isolated and that firearms and murder and suicide are the only answer.
That’d be a nice community to have around. Hey, buying a gun? Your first one? Great, would you like to take a safety class? Howabout learn how to shoot? Want to meet some of the folks here? etc. etc.
...Although that can get creepy and culty too.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:02 PM on April 17, 2007


AS for the matter at hand? lysdexic I agree with you 100%.
posted by tkchrist at 9:38 AM on April 17 [+]
[!]


O.o !
  0

Cool! So can we start taking the guns away from the under-30's? Or was that someone else?

but as many have said above, the problem isn't so much guns, it's the crazy people. Now why can't we have a crazy-people-control thread?posted by Skorgu at 2:17 PM on April 17 [+]
[!]


The key is always going to be compromise. Now that everyone in this thread has spilled their bile and blood, maybe we can clean it up some and talk about what realistically can be done.

Character
This is not a derail (promise!) I think that Stephen Covey has made enoug money of his 7-habits habit to feed most of his descendants for the rest of their lives. I think it's time to make all that stuff public domain and given out free to every blessed (and cursed) public, private, and home school in existence. I went to the 7-habits course pretty skeptical, and came out 3 days later thinking it wasn't such a bad thing. The whole "Mission Statement" assignment was a little creepy, but eh. One of the key things I learned was that at work you manage relationships, not people. I think that could be extended to everyone's relationships.

Dispute Resolution
So tchrist and klang had a knock down blow out. It's online. It didn't really happen, in a sense. Anything that happened to anyone, happened in their heads. If the younglings are taught, scripted, rehearsed, whatever, in sensible ...fighting, for lack of a better word, maybe there wouldn't be as many people going off the deep end and extending their fantasies into the real world.

Size Matters
Break up the mega high school system, for that matter, the mega school system period. Smaller classes = better outcomes.

I've noted before that most of us never get out of junior high, and therefore, aren't really all that grown up. Maybe if we got grown up, we could keep things like this from happening as often as they do.

Man, I wish I could have done more with this, but between plumbing, daycare issues, and tornado warnings, this day has been just crap.
posted by lysdexic at 6:07 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


well, goddamit. I think even with the spelling erors you can see what I meant.
posted by lysdexic at 6:26 PM on April 17, 2007


See... Smedleyman knows.
posted by Balisong at 6:55 PM on April 17, 2007


And just as an aside to my 27 guns..
I don't have any relly cool ones.
I don't have an AK-47, or a M-4 or M-16, I don't have a Glock, UZI, or even a descent sniper rifle.
I have 5 .22 rifles, a shotgun, some .30 cal hunting rifles and some black powder stuff.
I have a couple nice pistols, but a bunch of crap I'd never trust my life on that I should probably get rid of.
posted by Balisong at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2007


If you feel part of the community and empowered and part of and invested in the process, you’re not going to flip out.

I think that is pretty much true. I have always kind of had a high tolerance for weirdos. Partly becuase I remember what it was like being on the outside looking in (as an Army Brat we moved all the time and always being the new kid in civilian schools could be real brutal). I'm the gregarious type and try to always be friendly with just about everybody.

I made friends with this one delinquent but super sweet kid once. He was way too smart and sensitive for what life had dealt him. A terrible home life. His mom had tried to murder him. A couple of times. She had drug and mental problems. The state was placing this kid BACK with her. Long story tragic story.

But anyway my wife and I and some other neighbors befriended him when he was a teenager. I did martial arts with him.

If not for a few people like us that poor kid would have killed somebody. I know. He told us after he finally got committed. He wanted to die "suicide by cop." But he didn't want us to think bad of him so he went to the out patient clinic instead. Damn he was smart kid. If somebody could have cared just a little sooner.

Suicide by cop? How fucked up does your life have to be for that to be a goal?
posted by tkchrist at 7:20 PM on April 17, 2007


But anyway my wife and I and some other neighbors befriended him when he was a teenager. I did martial arts with him.

-tchrist


You were what Alice Miller calls an "Enlightened Witness". Thank you.
posted by lysdexic at 7:32 PM on April 17, 2007


That's the TK I know and love. I had a similar experience with a teenage friend who's dad shot his mom and then shot himself. He came in the house to see his mom's brains on the wall. How do you ever recover from shit like this? My family adopted him and saw him through a couple of suicide attempts. I call him my brother. He's married now with a two year old, and doing fairly well, considering.
posted by vronsky at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It would be easier to legislate and enforce Pancake Control Laws, than gun control laws

I could live with reasonably fair and balanced Pancake Control Laws. Nothing too draconian, you understand...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:14 PM on April 17, 2007


And again, somebody who's actually willing to do what Hui did is not going to be any more than inconvenienced by even a total gun ban. The black market will always exist, and the more you restrict an item, the more profitable it becomes to black-marketeers. I think we as a nation have a very strong interest in keeping guns widely available and legal, and therefore at least somewhat regulated! Look into the underground gun markets in places like Pakistan and Iraq sometime, and tell me you really want anything-goes underground weapons trading happening in the US...

As opposed to anything goes over the counter weapons sales?
Still love those guns, Virginia?

...You've been shrugging for decades as illegal guns from your state plague our city, killing and maiming and terrorizing New Yorkers by the thousands, at one point comprising 47% of the guns our cops recovered.

...Your idea of gun control has been to pass a law making it illegal for undercover agents like those Bloomberg sent South to make such buys.

Never mind that a Virginia gun license is not half as hard to get as a driving license.

...Not even the worst campus massacre in American history is about to stop Bob Moates Sports Shop of Midlothian, Va., from going ahead with its big Bloomberg Gun GiveAway. The winner will receive a Para-Ordinance Model 1911 .45 automatic, silver and no less deadly than the black pistol a witness says the Virginia Tech psycho used. The 1911 is part of the company's new line of "Gun Rights" pistols, which carry the guarantee the company will donate $25 to the National Rifle Association for every one sold.

"The drawing is April 19," a man at Moates said yesterday.

No wonder some of our cops up here in New York say the bumper stickers down there should really read, "Virginia Is for Gun Lovers."

What do you say now, Virginia?

Yes, Virginia, guns kill innocents
On second thought, point not taken. Oh, they sound so so tough in Virginia! 47% of the guns confiscated in New York City, a "Bloomberg Gun Giveaway," a law passed to prevent undercover gun buys--man, that is somewhat something ...but not exactly regulated.

Maybe Hui could have been just a teensy weensy more inconvenienced, ya think ?
posted by y2karl at 10:08 PM on April 17, 2007


Maybe Hui could have been just a teensy weensy more inconvenienced, ya think ?

To my mind, every layer of inconvenience is an opportunity for someone who's planning to do something awful to chicken out and walk away.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:34 PM on April 17, 2007


As opposed to anything goes over the counter weapons sales?

Either you have no clue about what "anything-goes" actually means, or you have no clue about what American over-the-counter gun sales are like. I'm betting on both. Hint: the markets I was talking about sell rocket launchers and mines, a few things you won't find at the local Big 5. Largely because a legal market can be regulated, whereas a black market can't. For instance, how much have those draconian New York gun laws done to keep illegal guns out of New York City? From the look of that article you linked to, not enough. But by all means, let's pass some more and wait for the magical moment at which the forces of supply and demand will somehow cease to apply!

Maybe Hui could have been just a teensy weensy more inconvenienced, ya think ?

Wow. Virginia isn't willing to trade gun rights for draconian NY-style anti-gun legislation and police entrapment, and somehow that's the reason why this nut killed 30+ people? Please. Hui jumped through all the hoops in place in Virginia. What makes you think a few more would have helped? A fine example of the kind of thinking that sacrifices everybody's rights to "protect" us against a rare event that you can never fully legislate away in the first place.

To my mind, every layer of inconvenience is an opportunity for someone who's planning to do something awful to chicken out and walk away.

This man chained a door shut, walked up to about thirty people, and SHOT THEM DEAD. Sorry, but the clerk at the local Wal-Mart is not going to make him "chicken out and walk away" with his mighty forms and waiting periods. There are some things laws simply cannot prevent, as much as we'd like them to. Making policy based on the worst possible case just gives us a reactionary and overprotective system that's bad for everybody.
posted by vorfeed at 11:00 PM on April 17, 2007


Vorfeed--

I'll agree with you that a few more layers of bureacracy probably wouldn't have prevented this week's atrocities, and I'll further agree with you that creating laws designed specifically to prevent this exact shooting from happening again would be a spectacularly bad idea. However, I don't believe it's a bad idea at all to think about generally reducing risk going forward. And while a few more layers of inconvenience probably wouldn't stop the next Virginia Tech-style massacre, I have to wonder if it might prevent a few suicides, dv homicides, and the like.

(And with that, I'm taking my supporating sinuses and hacking cough to bed.)
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:11 PM on April 17, 2007


For someone as nutty as that guy was, guns are not the problem. (And I do not like guns at all.) The problem is when you're that damn angry and screwed up you want to hurt people, or yourself, or both. And how do people like that get help? And how do others get protected? Other students sensed he was a potential danger. Too bad we don't know how to use that sense that people have. We have a lot to learn.
posted by Listener at 11:27 PM on April 17, 2007


And while a few more layers of inconvenience probably wouldn't stop the next Virginia Tech-style massacre, I have to wonder if it might prevent a few suicides, dv homicides, and the like.

To be honest, it probably would. But at best, even with a law that could somehow prevent every single gun fatality in this country, you're still disenfranchising millions to safeguard 30,000 people. And disenfranchising is exactly what some of these "layers of inconvenience" have meant in the past, and in some cases still mean today -- see that Harper's article I linked to above. Viewed as a trade-off of rights versus safety, I just don't think NY-style gun laws are worth their cost.
posted by vorfeed at 11:36 PM on April 17, 2007


By the way, I never got a license for my penis.

(How long will THIS thread get? I miss the IMG tag.)
posted by davy at 12:13 AM on April 18, 2007


I just don't think NY-style gun laws are worth their cost.

It all depends, of course, on how you value different things. I get the impression many Americans put an unusually high value on being able to own guns, and so, for you, the trade-off doesn't work. You'd rather have guns and more people be killed, than not have guns and less people be killed, because of what you value more.

There are many other places in the world where people place a higher value on peace, and lawfulness, and safety than they do on guns, and strict gun laws appear to be functioning just fine.

But that's the choice you make. Some people value the "freedom" not to wear a seatbelt, and the "freedom" not to wear a helmet. I can't for the life of understand why, but if one considers the feeling of the wind blowing in their hair to be more important than the risk of quadraplegia, I guess that's up to them. I guess, unfortunately, the difference with guns is that relatively few of them are used to kill their freedom-valuing owners, and end up killing innocent people who may place different values on the freedoms involved.
posted by Jimbob at 12:17 AM on April 18, 2007


As long as you carry your penis concealed, davy, there shouldn't be a problem.
posted by Jimbob at 12:18 AM on April 18, 2007


Sorry, but the clerk at the local Wal-Mart is not going to make him "chicken out and walk away" with his mighty forms and waiting periods.

And if we couldn't stop one cold-blooded killer, why bother trying to stop a bunch of heat-of-passion ones?
posted by dreamsign at 4:40 AM on April 18, 2007


As long as you carry your penis concealed, davy, there shouldn't be a problem.
posted by Jimbob at 12:18 AM on April 18 [+]
[!]


Only if he doesn't plan to use it, say, in California. Did he pay full value?

I look around, and see hobby horses and a few high horses trotting around a ring. I'm out of ammo, and ideas.

buh-bye.
posted by lysdexic at 5:04 AM on April 18, 2007


lysdexic, WAIT!! ... LOOK WHAT THEY'RE DOING NOW!! ... two of them are MAKING A PONY!!
posted by pyramid termite at 5:20 AM on April 18, 2007


I wrote a long ramble somewhere upthread about Chinese responses when it appeared the killer might be a Chinese student. Beijing Newspeak, the blog of a Xinhua copy editor, has some inside info on the state media reaction whilst this appeared to be the case and their relief when it turned out not to be true. There's some comments from other media workers too.
posted by Abiezer at 6:27 AM on April 18, 2007


Can we ban cars and light trucks? They seem terribly inefficient, and kill more people per capita than guns. Also, we wouldn't need a constitutional amendment to ban them.

I like palmcorder's point above. I think gun control should focus on effective solutions at reducing per capita deaths. Not another knee-jerk reaction to a mass shooting, or a ban on "assault weapons'. It never made sense to me that we would focus so much energy on the types of weapons used least in crimes.

Jimbob, guns vs. people killed is not a one for one correlation. I know no-one who was killed with a gun, but I did know a guy who got stabbed to death. There's a lot of belief among gun rights advocates, rightly or wrongly that Britain has a higher rate of muggings/assault because of gun control... and I'm too tired to make my point clearer. sorry.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:41 AM on April 18, 2007


I think we've pretty much exhausted all the decent points, tired hyperbole, and hackneyed strawmen for and against gun control laws over the past 50 years, haven't we?

Whatever my personal feelings on this subject, this discussion is so much pissing into the wind. There was no political will to do anything about gun control after Columbine, and there's even less now. The arguments rehashed here will continue ad nauseum, but nothing will change. To the Republicans this is more important than any religious issue they beat the drum for and, more importantly, Democrats have abandoned it.
posted by psmealey at 7:50 AM on April 18, 2007


From the outside, it's amusing (but chilling) to observe another one of the US's cultural obsessions bearing fruit. As with so many issues (land of the free, home of democracy, ...) the ability that people have to completely delude themselves about their motivations and behaviour never ceases to amaze me
posted by daveg at 8:26 AM on April 18, 2007


Jimbob, guns vs. people killed is not a one for one correlation. I know no-one who was killed with a gun, but I did know a guy who got stabbed to death.

Well I have to admit, it is a difficult argument to make. There just aren't enough data points. All I know is: US - lots of guns, lots of deaths by guns. Australia, for example, - people don't own guns for personal defense, and deaths by shooting are rare. I know it isn't that simple, but all we're left with to analyse is the prevalence of violence in the US coupled with the high ownership of guns. I get the impression that lots of people in the US own guns to defend themselves against crime, but I also get the impression there is a high level of gun crime in the US due to the easy access to guns. If so, it's a vicious circle, that's difficult to get out of.
posted by Jimbob at 8:33 AM on April 18, 2007


(I'll make the additional point that gun-rights advoates like to point out that incidents like the one in VA are "one in a million", and that additional gun control laws are unlikely to stop them. Fair enough. But at the same time, gun-rights advocates demand the right to bear arms to "defend themselves". If incidents like this are so rare, random and unlikely, why do they feel the need to carry a weapon? This is where my claim of cowardice stems from.)
posted by Jimbob at 8:44 AM on April 18, 2007


This whole thing reminds me of the old joke about going to watch the fights and a hockey game breaks out.
posted by Mister_A at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2007


Can we ban cars and light trucks? They seem terribly inefficient, and kill more people per capita than guns. Also, we wouldn't need a constitutional amendment to ban them.

Getting a driver's license requires a bit more effort to obtain than signing some forms, getting a cursory background check and takes more time than a mere matter of minutes.
posted by y2karl at 9:28 AM on April 18, 2007


But at the same time, gun-rights advocates demand the right to bear arms to "defend themselves". If incidents like this are so rare, random and unlikely, why do they feel the need to carry a weapon?

Because nobody's defending against the "one in a million". They're defending against muggers, rapists, thieves, etc., of which we have a lot more of than one in a million, even though things aren't as bad as they were in the 70s. And that's not even mentioning the cops, who have become more and more paramilitary and abusive even as violent crime decreases.

Watch some videos from Katrina, and tell me again that there's nothing to defend against -- looters and rioters, on the one hand, and racist cops who kept peaceful black people from leaving the city on the other. We're going to see more and more of these kinds of messes here, because it's pretty much our stated policy to let the rich and powerful run roughshod over everybody else's rights. A gun is one of the few forms of power available to the poor and middle class in this country; no wonder most people want to change that.
posted by vorfeed at 9:40 AM on April 18, 2007


But at best, even with a law that could somehow prevent every single gun fatality in this country, you're still disenfranchising millions to safeguard 30,000 people.

Of course, rewritten as--

But at best, even with a law that could somehow prevent every single gun fatality in this country, you're still disenfranchising millions to prevent 30,000 deaths a year

--that sentence does have a slightly different reading.

If such a law were actually possible, the disenfranchisement of millions hardly seems a tragedy. Most people--in a heartbeat--would settle for a law that prevented even a fraction of 30,000 deaths if it were a matter of public health not involving gun violence.
posted by y2karl at 10:18 AM on April 18, 2007


I guess, unfortunately, the difference with guns is that relatively few of them are used to kill their freedom-valuing owners, and end up killing innocent people who may place different values on the freedoms involved.

This is false. Well over half of the gun fatalities each year in this country are suicides. Relatively many of our guns kill their owners, to the point where the average American is significantly more likely (odds are 1 in 222 vs 1 in 314) to die in a firearm suicide than in a firearm assault.

Also, very few guns kill anyone to begin with. We have over 200 million of them, and around 30,000 people die from firearms each year (counting the suicides). Clearly, the vast majority of our guns aren't being used in a deadly manner. This is why I make the value assessment that I do -- not just because "I'd rather have guns", but because they're not a problem in the majority of cases, and banning them would create new problems where there used to be none. There are a lot of things we could work on that would give a much better return in terms of lives (traffic safety, food quality) with much less impact on civil rights.

Besides, our government is not really interested in stopping gun deaths. If it were, we wouldn't have entire city blocks that are essentially lawless drug-trade war-zones, and we wouldn't have a whole generation of people who can't find enough legit work to get by. There are some pretty obvious ways to cut down on violent crime in this country, and stopping people from buying guns at Big 5 Sporting Goods is not among them. Gun control is just another "score points with our base" political straw-man (on both sides of the issue) that we can argue over while ignoring our more serious problems.

Most people--in a heartbeat--would settle for a law that prevented even a fraction of 30,000 deaths if it were a matter of public health not involving gun violence.

That's why those laws requiring cervical cancer vaccinations passed so easily, eh? There's an example of a law that would save many lives, and didn't disenfranchise people as much as removing gun rights would, yet it didn't pass in my state. Not everybody is willing to trade involuntary "protection" for freedom of choice. And there isn't a specifically enumerated constitutional right relating to public health, either.

As for this: If such a law were actually possible, the disenfranchisement of millions hardly seems a tragedy. Wow. Just wow. No wonder the Constitution no longer applies in this country; too many of us are willing to trade it for a pack of worthless little laws like these. It's one thing to trade your rights for real security, but to do so to save just 30,000 people a year? More than half of which kill themselves? Pah.
posted by vorfeed at 11:04 AM on April 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Most people--in a heartbeat--would settle for a law that prevented even a fraction of 30,000 deaths if it were a matter of public health not involving gun violence.

Not likely. A total ban on fatty foods would save hundreds of thousands of lives. Similarly for a ban on cars. A law providing free sex workers to lonely young men might even have prevented this particular tragedy. But we are talking about America here. Live free or die 'n all.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2007


Similarly for a ban on cars.

But, as noted above, you have to get a license to drive a car and that alone requires far more than what it took to get a gun in Virginia.
posted by y2karl at 12:53 PM on April 18, 2007


“I could live with reasonably fair and balanced Pancake Control Laws. Nothing too draconian, you understand..”

You can have my maple syrup when you pry it from my warm, sticky hand.

“Most people--in a heartbeat--would settle for a law that prevented even a fraction of 30,000 deaths...” - y2karl

I agree with you in spirit. But yeah, people are willing to have in-ground pools, drive through liquor stores, all sorts of unsafe vehicles... more or less what hoverboards don't work on water sed.
But in terms of what I’m taking you’re reasoning to be (and correct me if I’m wrong) you’re saying it’s a little inconveniance for something that could be made much safer. And in that spirit, I’d agree and I’d be for, say, seatbelt laws.
But by the same token laws are predicated on the effectiveness of their enforcement.
(And indeed, you have perhaps unintended consequences in enforcement like no sealt belt as a predication for being stopped and searched or random safety checkpoints for seat belts and such.)
There are laws against murder. Didn’t stop this guy. And indeed, the police didn’t stop this guy.
So you’re back to the effective enforcement question and the other practical aspects.
I mean, turn it around. Is the very small potential of one nut going berserk worth the relatively vast increase in police powers without a commensurate requirement for police responsibility?
If the police neutralized the shooter (and I mean exactly “neutralized” whether shot, killed or apprehended peacefully) with fewer casualties, I think the pro-gun case would be much stronger.
After Columbine a lot of police departments developed protocols for this type of thing. Typically after forming a perimeter so the situation doesn’t get any bigger you send a small squad in diamond formation to stop the shooting.

In rapid deployment they don’t help the wounded, they don’t hold position, they just stop the shooting however they can. Hopefully with a non-resisted arrest. Didn’t happen here apparently.
What happened here illustrated the problem between written law and the practical aspects of law enforcement.
The police failed the dead and wounded - that certain circumstances may have been beyond their control isn’t relevent to that bottom line.
Counter to that of course is that guns were used in the commission of this crime and whatever reasoning in defense of firearm ownership - equally, as above - make little difference to the victims.

So whatever one’s position - we should recognize there were many failures here at a fundimental level.
I favor gun rights. But I agree with many of the reasonable arguments from the opposition in terms of following up on who’s fired a gun and making sure they are not used in the commission of a crime.
Yet without the recognition that a greater share of the responsibility for citizen security rests in the practical applications and real world results of government actors - police and so forth - I can’t support a position that would, to me, simply create security theater the likes of which we’ve seen in airports and other places with other government agencies.
Any gun control law would have to recognize and augment that balance, make police responsible and accountable for failures in security. That isn’t what we have now.

Still, I suspect the victims’ families here may sue the university, the police, whomever.
I don’t know that will bring any change. If it came to it, I’d rather have my kid, alive and maybe in jail for illegal possession of a firearm, than dead and me with a lot of money in my pocket.
I recognize it’s not one or the other of course, but that’s the spirit of the thing.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:05 PM on April 18, 2007


Smedleyman, I can see your point, and, for a fact, for many of the reasons you cite, I am of no fixed opinion concerning gun control except insofar that it seems to me that the law in Virginia is, oh, dare we say, maybe especially lax ? It's just that I find these Oh, won't anyone think of how will we protect ourselves from the criminals!? won't anyone think of how will we protect ourselves from the racist tyrannical police!? Oh, won't anyone think of the poor and the middle class!? Oh, won't anyone think of the Constitution!? street sweeper shotgun arguments tiresome. The government has atomic bombs, most police forces have what amount to tanks. I don't think anyone is arguing for the private ownership of either here or anywhere else for good reason.

It's just not all or one. You have to get a license to drive a car. That we could do with a little more in the way of that with gun ownership is not an unreasonable concept to me.
posted by y2karl at 1:34 PM on April 18, 2007


Fwiw, having lived in the DC area, "straw buys" are very common. Since VA gun laws are much more lax than MD's and especially DC's (where handguns are illegal, but Republican asshats are constantly trying to repeal this law even though DC was the "murder capitol" of the 1980's), you have a black market where young people with no criminal history are driven a few mintues into VA to buy a gun once a month. Sometimes, you get a group of people, sine it's basically one handgun per person. (The novelist George Pelecanos wrote a whole book about this phenomenon.) I'm not in the mood to look up statistics, but it's common knowledge that most handguns used in DC crimes come from VA.

Point being, I'm a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but here you have a perfect example of how states' rights to regulate (which I'm generally a fan of) can break down very quickly.
posted by bardic at 1:51 PM on April 18, 2007


It's just not all or one. You have to get a license to drive a car. That we could do with a little more in the way of that with gun ownership is not an unreasonable concept to me.

Clearly. And when it turns out that poor blacks can't get a gun license in Florida any more than they can get a drivers license in Florida, I guess that's not unreasonable, either?

I'd be a lot more tolerant toward this argument if we hadn't just gone through not one, but two federal election cycles in which this kind of "minor inconvenience" was purposefully used to disenfranchise thousands. Or if we didn't have a set of federal and state gun laws that are already an integral part of the system that feeds our youth to the prison-industrial complex. I guess that's another "street sweeper shotgun" argument, though. Silly me, I should realize that gun laws have nothing to do with any larger issue in this country.

but Republican asshats are constantly trying to repeal this law even though DC was the "murder capitol" of the 1980's

DC has the highest rate of homicides in the country right now, not just in the 1980s (though I think the craziness in NOLA beat it this last year). It also has the toughest gun laws in the country, and has banned handguns since 1976. Note that the ban was in effect well before the crime surge in the 1980s; note also that the murder rates in DC are still more than 30% higher today than they were in '76. Do the math -- super-restrictive gun laws like these do not lower the violent crime rate, and they do not stop people who really want to use guns to kill. Tighten the gun laws in Virginia & other surrounding states, and people will simply go further and further afield to buy guns to take to DC. As you dry up the legal supply with restrictive laws, the demand makes this kind of illegal gun running more and more profitable, and therefore worth the risk, flooding the restrictive areas with illegal and untraceable weapons. And in the meantime, law-abiding people in DC have to choose between self-defense and criminality. It's the same vicious circle we have with the Drug War, and if you ask me, one of those is more than enough.

By the way, the DC handgun ban was recently ruled unconstitutional.
posted by vorfeed at 3:30 PM on April 18, 2007


I'm not in the mood for a pissing match re: DC gun laws, but as a former resident, culturally, there's a lot of resentment at (mostly white, southern, Republican) lawmakers trying to score points with the NRA by making DC a gun-owning science experiment. The resident population of DC is quite small, and its' not hard to find someone who was related to or knew someone who was killed by a handgun during the crack epidemic of the 80's and early 90's.

By the way, the DC handgun ban was recently ruled unconstitutional.

Loading the court with Republican ideologues will do that. More to the point, Republican lawmakers don't give a flying fuck about DC residents except for this issue. Maybe if they worked on some things that affect their lives more directly once in a while, they wouldn't be as skeptical of said Republicans' motives.

(Interestingly, gun rights are another potential stumbling block for Giuliani. He was pretty hardcore about going after handguns in NYC.)
posted by bardic at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2007


“It's just not all or one. You have to get a license to drive a car. That we could do with a little more in the way of that with gun ownership is not an unreasonable concept to me.” - posted by y2karl

Yeah, I have to agree with that. I don’t know (and I raise the point for clarification) if they need 2 peices of ID in VA. to buy a pistol and if one has to be a DL. But I suspect you could get a state ID and something else.
I myself think it’s insane to have firearms in a house without having them locked up.
Apart from child safety (and kids can be well-drilled (‘regulated’ one might say) in weapon safety and still screw up, ‘cos, y’know, they’re kids) it keeps easy access away from anyone who might break in when no one’s home.
But I can’t imagine how to put that principle into an enforcable law. I’d like to see one, but by the same token I don’t want to give the police the right to come into my house without cause. And naturally anyone who would invite the cops into their house to inspect their gun safe or whatnot - doesn’t need policing.
It’s the same principle upon which I am pro-choice. I’m vehimently opposed to abortion under any circumstances - given there is birth control and ultimately adoption services available. No life or potential should have to be aborted.
By the same token I understand the social forces in play there that lead to a woman choosing an abortion - and those are, in my opinion, similar in form albeit not in fact to the forces which lead someone to purchase a firearm.
Also similarly, I can see no reasonable law that could practically support that principle without egregious violations of individual liberty.
And if the law and social environment changed such that it wasn’t the catastrophe it is for some people to carry and bear a child, if the government made it their responsibility to make sure a child is cared for or - I don’t know, something that would satisfy enough of the individual and diverse conditions that lead someone to the decision to abort a fetus - (and, really, I don’t know what could do that) - but if there was something like that, I’d support anti-abortion laws.

Same thing with firearms. I’d be pro-gun control under the same environment shift. Indeed, given a wide variety of advantages I have from simple physique and physical stature to years spent training in hand to hand combat (myself and others) such a decision could only benefit me.
As it is now, some shaky bantamweight junkie with a gun could take my life with a simple squeeze of a trigger.

And yeah, I get how tiresome the rhetoric is in the arguments. And I think that’s because a lot of folks are arguing from a conceptual basis and they don’t have much practical experiance.
As far as I’m concerned, training in firearms use is more important than having the firearm itself. Practical experiance with gunshot wounds (giving or recieving) is invaluable.
Put a weapon in the hands of someone who’s never really had one - the change in their perspective is obvious. Big power and ego trip. Most people don’t know how to deal with that kind of power.
And the second they’re forced to shoot someone - most people don’t know how to deal with the commensurate responsibility. One sees this in cops all the time. You get a rookie whos maybe an ex-football player (American) or martial artist, or what have you - who has brass balls and wades through gunfire like it’s spring rain.
He’s first through the door. He’s the first guy to tackle the angry guy with the knife. He’s already in the corners taking out someone who was going to pop your head with a steam iron. Because he’s not at all afraid of anything and he wants to show that. And that’s great. And he’s shown he has as much balls and is as much of a team player as any of the seasoned bulls. But he’s still treated like a rookie and he doesn’t know why.
And then he has to shoot someone. And that someone has a father or is one or has a sister, brother, etc. etc. The worst is when they have kids. And you have to tell yourself mentally (and internally - to the kid) “He had a gun. He was going to shoot me. It was him or me.”
As much as that might be right, wrong, whatever - it utterly fails (unless the cop in question is a sociopath). And he’s still not afraid of anything, but he starts to recognize he has to be more careful to manage the environment beyond heroics, because he could get put into a position where he has to shoot someone.
And he’s still first through the door - but he calls for back up for cover first because the more cops on the scene, the less likely he has to shoot.
And as much as the newbie with the gun gets the power trip, as soon as the gravity and implication of wielding a firearm sets in - it’s met (in anyone rational) with a commensurate reality check and sense of responsibility.
Unfortunately some folks try to hang on to the dream world where they are powerful.
That seems to be where the kid from VT was mentally.
Folks who got shot, the victims families, hopefully get the reality.
“Holy crap, that’s what just small arms alone can do?” yep.
And that’s why any debate such as this has to be taken with that level of seriousness.
And it’s unfortunate that politicians themselves haven’t dealt with firearms in any serious manner.
Indeed, Cheney’s misuse of his shotgun is appaling. I hunt. I can’t imagine taking a shot that I am not absolutely certain is clear. And strangely, I’ve never had an accident. (Although who’s going to be close enough by a buck that he’s not going to run I don’t know, but it’s a good habit to be in and I don’t intend to break it). Of course, I’ve let a great many go, but I can always go to the store and get meat.
By the same token many pro-gun control folks need to get an understanding of the practical realities.
It’s been brought up before - but I do remember from the Deer Hunter DeNiro holding up a cartridge and saying: “this is this, it’s not something else” and I think that’s the disconnect. Many many people think it’s something else - pro/con whatever.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:00 AM on April 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


As far as I’m concerned, training in firearms use is more important than having the firearm itself. Practical experiance with gunshot wounds (giving or receiving) is invaluable.

I would agree with that.

Put a weapon in the hands of someone who’s never really had one - the change in their perspective is obvious. Big power and ego trip. Most people don’t know how to deal with that kind of power.

And at VT, the one guy who saved lives did so without dealing with that kind of power. He just stood in a doorway while his class escaped.
posted by y2karl at 10:37 AM on April 19, 2007


One thing changed my mind over gun control. (I used to dimly believe in individual rights on this one, generally.)

A wonderful, responsible friend - an experienced leisure time hunter with a licence - gave me his most winning lecture on the subject one weekend - how he'd been brought up to respect guns, never, ever left his own unattended etc etc, how the only problem was lawless outlier freaks, he gave me chapter and verse, he was teasing me for my mushy liberal views generally and trying to push me further into his camp - and doing a good job. He was showing me his (unloaded) rifle at the time and the cartridges were in the same room.

His wife suddenly called to him from an upstairs room in a terrible panic. Their beloved dog had run out of the weekend house we had all rented- and was heading for a road.

My wonderful friend also panicked, ran out - and left the room with his gun on the table - and my young kids in the next room.

It was excruciatingly socially embarrassing. Nothing bad happened. Yet in a genuine panic - going to pieces about his gorgeous dog being in danger - he had impulsively violated his inviolate rule about gun safety and we all knew what could have gone down with some additional ghastly bad luck and my kids. He was mortified, I reassured him...but still, I never trust a civilian with a gun, whatever their intentions.

If using a gun isn't your job, it's human nature to screw up.

Whatever.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:04 AM on April 20, 2007


I don't want to be around a lot of really violent people who are allowed to own pistols, so I don't live in America. I'm much happier living far away from the nearest gun.

It's not rocket science.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:11 PM on April 20, 2007


My wonderful friend also panicked, ran out - and left the room with his gun on the table - and my young kids in the next room.

You were there, right? The gun wasn't loaded and you were there. The gun is not going to shoot anybody by itself. And I assume you have control of your kids. I do not see you point at all.

Seems to me like the problem was your FEAR of what YOU would do left in room with a gun. Rather your fear of the instrument. Not what your friend did leaving it there.

A healthy mistrust of ANYBODY with a gun is good. That's kind of the number one fire arms safety lesson.

Yes. It's human nature to screw up. Even professionals are humans. And humans screw up with cars; Swimming pools; Propane stoves; Airplanes. You name it. Humans will find a way to scew it up and kill somebody with it.

You can't be afraid of everything humans can screw up.
posted by tkchrist at 7:54 PM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


A few years ago, me and my girlfriend took a weeks vacation on grand cayman. We were living in NYC at the time, where danger always lurks, but honestly I had never even had a bad day there.

So one night (we were in a private house) a storm blew up, lots of wind but not much rain, so we stayed in and played cards. For an hour or two, as we sat on the veranda, we kept hearing a strange noise. I thought it was a branch hitting the house and I would get up and look occasionally, but couldn't figure out what it was. Finally I had had enough and went into the house to see what was up. As I turned the corner from the kitchen to our bedroom, there was a very large, very scary looking guy pressed up against the wall, less than 5 feet away (he was at least a foot taller than me). The noise I had heard was him removing the slats from the window to gain entrance to the home. Fight or flight kicked in, and this time it was fight. I literally saw red (it really happens, it is not just an expression) and chased him through the room screaming "what the fuck!!" at the top of my lungs. He dove headfirst through the window and escaped into some bushes on the vacant lot next door. Cops came but nothing happened. (And let me add that adrenaline is one hell of a great drug and I was up until 5 in the morning chain smoking, waiting for him to try and get in again. With a broomstick by the bed, cause it was the only weapon I could find)

Point is, what if he had a knife or other weapon? How could I have defended myself or my girlfriend? I'm a pretty big guy, but am definitely no tk level badass. I don't own a gun, nor do I ever plan on owning one, I don't personally like guns, but I am torn on the idea of gun control for reasons like these.
posted by vronsky at 9:59 PM on April 20, 2007


Point is, what if he had a knife or other weapon? How could I have defended myself or my girlfriend?

Why, you would have pointed your pistol at him! You know, the one you took on vacation to a foreign country, and had so much fun explaining to the UK Customs inspectors. (They're so polite and accommodating.) The one you then carried around the island with you everywhere in a shoulder holster under your Hawaiian shirt, or maybe you just shoved it in the waistband of your Speedos. Anyway, you would have had to keep it within reach, so the big guy didn't use his hypothetical weapon on you before you could reach your gun.

People who keep a gun at home for defense (and who have a system for preventing its theft or misuse) are not unreasonable. People who take a firearm on vacation to another country are not those I want to share a hotel or restaurant with.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:19 AM on April 21, 2007


"You were there, right? The gun wasn't loaded and you were there. The gun is not going to shoot anybody by itself. And I assume you have control of your kids. I do not see you point at all.

Seems to me like the problem was your FEAR of what YOU would do left in room with a gun
."

tkchrist,

Yes - I was there, as you say. And the ammo was not in the gun. And I had as much control of my normal, inquisitive young sons as anyone could. And, yes, guns don't shoot anybody by themselves.

Maybe my story was not thrilling enough for you?

The point that whizzed by you, apparently, is that civilians talk well-meaning, self-serving garbage about how they are specially responsible around guns, how they follow the rules which society's fools/bad guys/mentally unhinged ignore, how they respect firepower - especially around kids -and so forth.

I learnt a good, sharp lesson that weekend. Those rules can fly out the window in a heartbeat.

To his credit, my hunter friend did not try to insist "oh, if the gun had been loaded, of course I'd never had left it...". I think all the stuff he'd said about his own Dad drumming gun safety into him when he was a lad etc was still ringing embarrassingly in his ears.

He knew perfectly well he'd acted foolishly. And he knew I knew he had. As I said, it was deeply socially awkward for us both. No one likes their friends revealed as idiots.

I honestly don't get your comment that I was afraid what I'd do with the gun?

Is that some standard, defensive barb from the pro-gun lobby whenever mushy liberals like me get antsy?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:06 AM on April 21, 2007


Ok hurf kirth, once again you missed the point. Thing is, home invasions happen, and not just in big scary cities. And I don't own a gun, want a gun, or even like guns. But my speedo's? You will never get those until you pry them from my cold, dead nutsack.
posted by vronsky at 8:52 AM on April 21, 2007


You will never get those until you pry them from my cold, dead nutsack.

you really ought to see a doctor about that
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 AM on April 21, 2007


Oh , the point wasn't How could I have defended myself or my girlfriend? which is what you said "the point is"?

How could I possibly been so foolish as to miss...

What was your point, then?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:26 PM on April 21, 2007


I honestly don't get your comment that I was afraid what I'd do with the gun?

Because, from what I can tell, he didn't do anything wrong by leaving the room with another adult in charge. There was no problem. It's no different than if he left you and your kids in the room with a knife or a chainsaw or a can of gasoline.

It's different because as you admitted you already don't LIKE guns. If it was a case of those other dangerous things you would likely not feel as alarmed by your friend leaving them there. Even IF he had remarked as much of any prohibitions for leaving a gas can around. Why? Because those are familiar to you. You are not afraid of them. See what I'm saying?

He may have had some sort of ideal about how to store guns safely, etc. That's great. But all ideals breakdown.

Professionals have strict rules about things like guns - it doesn't mean there are likewise breakdowns. Obviously there are.

What i note is that you seemed truly afraid something was going to "happen." That your friend was irresponsible when he wasn't really. No more so than in a million other potential ways that we would not get so upset about.

Seriously. There was no problem other than you don't like guns and were in a room with one and your children were there. But you are a responsible parent. So there was no threat.

Feeling like there IS a threat where is none is by definition irrational. So. The source of that is NOT the gun. Or how your friend acted. It is you. It's not character flaw. Everybody has fears. FTR: Mine are of clowns and attics.

Is that some standard, defensive barb from the pro-gun lobby whenever mushy liberals like me get antsy?

Defensive barb? Gun lobby? WTF? Jeeze. Jody if anybody is issuing defensive barbs it's you.

Assume much? For the record I am also a "mushy liberal" but I am NOT a member of the NRA. Not that THAT should matter.

WHY you got to be rude and I was being completely civil and trying hard to get you to see something that might be important. Or might not be. But you didn't really think about it anyway, did you.
posted by tkchrist at 3:16 PM on April 21, 2007


A thoughtful answer, tkchrist.

You say, though: "What i note is that you seemed truly afraid something was going to "happen." That your friend was irresponsible when he wasn't really."

Well, yeah to the first!
Of course my mind flickered to the scenario of the gun being left out - the ammo in the room - my kids in the house - and, say, if I'd innocently left the room too - just before my friend's wife had yelled about the dog and pushed all thoughts about gun safety out of his panicked mind - and the kids wandered in!

Yeah, don't many parents think like that?

And I assumed my friend was molten with shame - because - "really" - exactly the same series of 'what ifs' had crossed his mind.

Which suddenly puts the burden of absolute vigilance around guns on anyone remotely near them, not just the "responsible" or "expert" hobbyist, who should know better.

I do apologise - though - for jumping down your throat. I did rather - and I can see it wasn't merited.

(About four years ago I went to the NYPD Museum in the city - where they had an absolutely brilliant free virtual police gun training session under the tutelage of an expert. All of us got to test our virtual armed reactions to a series of filmed street situations. It was an exhausting, exciting and deeply sobering experience and persuaded me all over again that only the fully trained should handle guns. Sadly - I checked very recently - they've discontinued this as a public freebie.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:27 PM on April 21, 2007


Ok, wasn't following gun control conversations until the NASA killing happening within a week caught my eye. Will hold forth with opinion making here. thanks.
posted by infini at 10:08 PM on April 21, 2007


If using a gun isn't your job, it's human nature to screw up.

I could tell you story after story about professionals screwing up with guns, but I'll just link to this somewhat painful video of a DEA agent shooting himself in the foot (he recovered). There is a definite cost to owning guns, whether or not you are a professional. As tkchrist pointed out however, there is a cost to owning cars, chainsaws, knives, gas cans, etc... The fact that handguns are designed to kill people does not make them intrinsically more likely to be dangerous than those objects. It does make them more dangerous when intent comes into play. I'm all for raising the barriers to purchase guns somewhat, and for educating as many people as possible in gun safety. For that matter, if I didn't like or feared guns I would be even more interested in educating those I love in how to handle them safely.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:11 AM on April 22, 2007


Here is the law I would like passed:

Nobody can own any kind of gun anywhere on the planet.

But me.

I have only had one minor firearm accident. The "victim" was ME.

So, if history is any guide, at the outside the "last gun owner" on the planet would be a short term position at best.

(don't worry ladies, the TK still has all his parts)
posted by tkchrist at 1:57 AM on April 22, 2007


I have only had one minor firearm accident. The "victim" was ME.

tk, might there be the kind of story in there somewhere that dozens of users would be likely to favorite?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:15 AM on April 22, 2007


It may have been partially told already. It is one of the Todd Hamilton and The Beast stories. Damn. I got to track that guy down. He is instrumental to my personal history.

Oh. And this time I have the scar to quell the nay-sayers!

That story... I dunno.

Let's say, even though it was over twenty years ago, it paints me as less than strictly sane or intelligent. Not that I would claim those things more than I should anyway.

But in THIS thread after insulting a persons professional integrity and being a big meany? I will be a jerk AND demonstrably show I'm not safe to allow to reproduce.

I'll tell it maybe later.
posted by tkchrist at 7:24 PM on April 22, 2007


My "Near miss" only resulted in a little drywall patch.
Good thing I live in a brick house.
posted by Balisong at 9:00 PM on April 23, 2007


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