90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, September 19, 2013

‘Glock’ Author: Gun Foes Engaged In ‘Futile Exercise’

Accessories manufacturer Kevin Kao examines a military grade Remington ACR Special Purpose Rifle at a gun show in Las Vegas, January 2013. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

An accessories manufacturer examines a military grade Remington ACR Special Purpose Rifle at a gun show in Las Vegas, January 2013. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

Supporters of stricter gun control legislation are once again making themselves heard, after the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard this week.

Paul Barrett, senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek and author of “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun,” argues that gun control advocates underestimate the grassroots support for gun rights, and overstate the ability of proposed gun control legislation to prevent such shootings.

“Unfortunately, all the participants in this debate — the most vocal participants — tend to go immediately for the most radioactive approach to the issue, rather than going to the more common sense, middle ground approaches,” Barrett told Here & Now. “And that’s why we have no progress.”

Barrett says a more effective way to talk about guns and gun laws is to frame it as a conversation on crime deterrence.

“You can frame advocacy of comprehensive background checks as a purely anti-crime step,” Barrett said. “If you frame it in that narrow way, you make this cause much more rational and you take it away from the second amendment.”

Guest

Transcript

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

Today is the first regular workday at the sprawling Washington Navy Yard - except for Building 197, where Monday's deadly shooting occurred. We now know that 34-year-old Navy contractor Aaron Alexis had mental problems and run-ins with both the law and his naval reserve superiors, but those things weren't enough for officials to revoke the security badge that enabled Alexis to enter Building 197, where he worked.

And he was able to legally buy a Remington 870 Express shotgun in Virginia a few days before the shooting. But the shotgun Alexis used on Monday would not have been banned under gun control legislation that stalled in Congress after the last mass shooting, in Newtown, Conn.

So what now for advocates of gun control, looking to find ways to keep these kinds of mass shootings from happening again? Let's turn to Paul Barrett, senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek as well as the author of "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun." He joins us from New York. Paul, welcome.

PAUL BARRETT: Thanks, glad to be here.

HOBSON: Well, I have to say my first thought after the shock of this shooting had sunk was nothing is going to change legislatively this time. If it didn't happen after Newtown, why would it happen now?

BARRETT: If you were a betting man, I would say that's the safe bet. And that's good news if you're a gun rights advocate and very bad news if you're a gun control proponent.

HOBSON: Well, you say that the gun control proponents get it wrong. You write that attacking the NRA in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting seems at best like an exercise in irrelevance. Explain what you mean by that.

BARRETT: Well, I think it is playing on the NRA's chosen field of conflict. The NRA is a very potent political organization devoted primarily to raising money and perpetuating political controversy. And if you get into a fight with the NRA, that only pleases the NRA, which turns around and says see, we told you so, our enemies are everywhere, please write us a check and send us more money. See, I told you so. Go out and try to defeat your local congressman who isn't sufficiently fierce on the Second Amendment.

I think a much more promising approach for gun control proponents is to link their cause not so much to the organization the NRA, not to articles of commerce, the guns, and not to gun culture but to talk about steps that would prevent or deter particular kinds of crime, to make the agenda into an anti-crime agenda and try to explain how particular policies would affect particular types of misuse of guns.

HOBSON: Well, what do you mean by that? Explain.

BARRETT: Well, for example, you can frame advocacy of comprehensive background checks as a purely anti-crime step. All you are doing is taking existing law, under which we already, all across the country, do not allow criminals and insane people to acquire new guns, and by the way we don't allow, you know, ex-felons even to possess guns, and you're saying we want to rationalize that law and make it apply across the board so we keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

We have - this has nothing to do with law-abiding gun buyers or owners. It has nothing to do with the NRA. It's to make our streets safe. And I think if you frame it in that narrow way, you make this cause much more rational, and you take it away from the Second Amendment and put it into the realm of how to keep the streets safe.

HOBSON: Well, you say it has nothing to do with the NRA. Wouldn't the NRA fight back against it regardless?

BARRETT: The NRA might fight back against it regardless, but if you made it clear that you were not trying to limit the number of guns or the type of guns that law-abiding people were able to acquire, I think you would have a greater likelihood of diffusing the NRA.

The problem is is that gun control proponents tend to lead very awkwardly. They lash out at the gun culture. They lash out at people who they call cowboys or wackos. They lash out at particular weapons, you know, such as the so-called assault weapon, which is always sort of the first move of the Dianne Feinstein breed of gun control proponent, and that plays right into the hands of Second Amendment advocates who, for example in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting, can say, well, look, this guy was very, very lethal with a good old-fashioned shotgun. Surely you're not proposing that we're going to ban shotguns. I mean, in fact the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, after the last round of mass shootings, said everyone should go out and have a shotgun for security reasons.

HOBSON: Yeah.

BARRETT: So, you see, rather than focusing on the type of weapon, rather than focusing on the fact that many people are attached to guns, focus on criminals and insane people and keeping guns out of the hands of kids. Access to guns, it seems to me, is the promising route.

HOBSON: What about that argument, though, that has been made, that nobody needs an assault rifle for their personal use?

BARRETT: You know, I think that that is a provocative and ultimately futile argument to make. Assault weapon is another term for a semi-automatic, military-style rifle. That has become the standard long gun. That is what our troops use. That is what people increasingly use for target shooting, for hunting, and it has become symbolic to pro-gun people of an effort that they claim is underway to take their guns away.

I would just - not that anyone asks me for policy advice - but I'm telling you that the campaign to ban assault weapons is exactly what the NRA would like to see coming from the other side.

HOBSON: We're talking with Paul Barrett, assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek. He's author of "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun." And Paul Barrett, I want you to stand by because after the break, we want to talk about money in this game, in this issue, and also the idea of mental health and what could be done on that front. Paul Barrett will be back with us after the break.

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

Meanwhile some of the stories we're following, in Turkey the lira has fallen to its lowest value in years. Is Turkey headed for a hard landing? And conservation is underway in Brazil for the golden lion tamarind. That's not a lion, it's an endangered monkey with a beautiful mane. These and other stories later today on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

Meanwhile, back with more of Jeremy's conversation. We'd love to hear your thoughts on guns and whether or not gun control advocates are expecting too much from gun laws. Weigh in at hereandnow.org, and stay right there for more in one minute, HERE AND NOW.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOBSON: It's HERE AND NOW, and let's get back to our conversation about gun control and gun rights with Bloomberg Businessweek writer and editor Paul Barrett. And Paul Barrett, what about mental health? I read in the New York Times that this is an issue that even a Republican-controlled legislature in Florida has gotten behind, passed a law that extended gun bans to people determined to be a danger to themselves or other or who voluntarily admit themselves to a mental health facility.

That measure won the support of the NRA. What could be done on that issue?

BARRETT: Well, what could be done is both at the state and federal level, we could see governments emulating Florida, as you just mentioned, New York, Connecticut and other states that have already taken action in this regard. And that would be to facilitate and smooth the procedures that exist that allow mental health professionals to get information to law enforcement professionals about people who seem to be in imminent danger and have the law enforcement authorities then have the ability to find out whether the person has firearms and, if they do, separate them from their firearms.

This seems to me to be a reasonable, common-sense, although quite complicated, it's not easy because it raises privacy issues and all kinds of tricky procedural issues, but it seems to me to be a route that we ought to be moving quickly down because particularly in connection with these mass shootings, we find out in the wake of almost all of these things that the individuals involved are severely disturbed, and if we could have just separated them from firearms, perhaps we could stop some, if not all, of these incidents.

HOBSON: Well, are the people who are pushing for assault weapons bans, for example, are they against doing more on mental health?

BARRETT: No, I don't think so. I think there's in fact a broad consensus that we should do something on mental health. I think, however, that has less ideological punch, and for better or for worse, I would say for worse, I think a lot of liberal politicians prefer to stand up and give a stem-winder of a speech attacking guns and people who like guns rather than talking about mental health.

Unfortunately, all the participants in this debate, the most vocal participants, tend to go immediately for the most radioactive approach to the issue rather than going to the more common-sense middle-ground approaches. Rather than steering away from the Second Amendment, they seem to crash right into the Second Amendment, and that's why we have so little progress.

HOBSON: And there is a lot of money in this. We just saw the situation in Colorado, these recalls of these two state senators who backed the state's tough new gun restrictions after Aurora. Is there a way, Paul Barrett, in the minute or so we have left, that we can reach a point where there is safe gun ownership and effective gun rules that satisfy both sides of this?

BARRETT: No, no time soon, and that's because guns and the regulation of guns have come to symbolize a whole range of political issues to many, many Americans. In each generation we tend to have one or two or three issues that become these big wedge issues, and guns have now ascended to that position.

And in fact advocates on both sides don't really want to find a compromise. They want to use this issue as a way to sort of argue about the nature of American culture, the relationship between individuals and the government, the nature of the crime problem, and as a just a pragmatic prediction, we are not going to resolve this anytime soon.

HOBSON: Paul Barrett is assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, author of "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun." The conversation continues at our website, hereandnow.org, also Facebook.com/hereandnowradio. Paul Barrett, thank you so much for joining us.

BARRETT: Always glad to be here.

HOBSON: And you're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • fun bobby

    they may have bloombergs billions but we have millions of Americans who know that the violence problem in America is not caused by guns. We know that guns are useful tools we know that guns are used in self defense hundreds of thousands or even millions of times a year. . We know that the way to solve the gang problem has nothing to do with gun control we need to end prohibition of drugs. we know that more unenforced gun laws will not prevent a mass shooting but that we need to look at mental illness and these mind altering drugs that all the mass shooters seem to be on need to be examined despite the fact the drug companies make billions off them. we can tell the emperor is nude

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    Mental health services are important, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    Homer wrote about it 2800 years ago. Today we have a clinical apprehension of PTSD.

    There is evidence that these disorders arise partly from genetic susceptibility and partly from traumatic life experiences. It would be wise to discontinue the practice of subjecting young people to traumatic life experiences.

  • D Milli

    Be real. It’s all about control. The federal government can’t control the use of “assault” rifles. The word “assault” is relative. No gun shoots itself either. Most of these gun “incidences” are HEAVILY twisted in the local media. No assault weapon has been used anywhere in the United States to kill people. New town was completely Media propaganda.

  • Anita Paul

    Here we go with the both sides bs.

  • dialyn

    What alarms me is that too many people think violence is the answer to every problem. Yeah, we can natter on about how having guns is a right (something I don’t think is really true…a well armed militia does not mean every citizen with a gun fetish and/or paranoia should be armed with high powered equipment) and that it is possible to kill with a knife (but not so many people so quickly) but until we get some self-control over how we decide to resolve our problems, we are going to continue to have people with short fuses deciding blasting other people is the way to feel better (and places like Florida make it a “right” to kill if one feels threatened even slightly). It’s very sad that the NRA and gun makers have bought the government and even sadder that people are so inert and placid that they have convinced themselves that gun deaths only happen to other people but not themselves, until it does. How many children have to die? How many innocents have to die? Are we so determine to go back to the lawless wild West that we think shoots outs on the street do anything except drive more violence? I don’t understand this fascination for spilling blood. I never will.

    • fun bobby

      you are going to have to quote that Florida law. what you said cant possibly be true.
      “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
      –Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824.
      owning guns is not about spilling blood its about preventing your and your family’s blood from being spilled. criminals have guns. how am I supposed to defend myself from them without guns?

  • RAOUL ORNELAS

    What is Mr. Barrett smoking! A narrow approach won’t work with the NRA. A better approach is label the NRA a terrorist organization. The assault rifle is not America’s rifle. I know, why, because I do not nor have I ever owned a gun or riffle during my entire seventy years. Guess what, the Government never came after me!?!

    • Ulrich Robin

      Can you tell the future? Are you looking in a crystal ball?

      At any rate, your position is exactly why no progress will be made. You go for the jugular in terms of ending gun violence in hopes of ending ALL of it.

      To put this in perspective, in the USA, there are 88,800 guns for every 100,000 people, and annually, of those 88,800 guns, less than 10 of them (yes, less than 10 guns) are used to cause 10 deaths annually per 100,000 people. The jugular says, get rid of all 88,800 guns to stop the 10 deaths. In the process though, you have trampled onto the second ammndmnt rights of 9 out of 10 people exercising them, and your results will be a slightly lower gun death rate but a likely doubling of crime rates in general.

      • RAOUL ORNELAS

        Most likely you are hearing voices? So before you strap on your gun to walk around town to protect yourself from your self imposed demons of the night, I suggest you seek psychiatric help…. pronto. I think your facts are incorrect. You need to look at the shooting records for Seattle, Washington or in the State of Oregon they far exceed your puny 10 deaths per 100,000.

        • fun bobby

          oh? please provide those statistics even though the poster was clearly referring to national statistics (those seemed a little off)

          • RAOUL

            11 People Injured After Shooting In Chicago Park

            September 20, 2013 1:57 AM

            Eleven people, including a 3-year-old child, were injured late Thursday when someone opened fire on people in a park located in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood.

            Chicago Fire Department officials said the child was in critical condition. Two other victims were also in critical condition, officials said.

            Officer Amina Greer said the shooting occurred shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday. According to Greer, at least 10 ambulances responded to the scene, transporting victims to several area hospitals.

            A witness, Julian Harris, told the Chicago Sun-Times that dreadlocked men fired at him from a gray sedan before turning toward Cornell Square Park and firing at people in the area. He said his 3-year-old nephew was wounded in the cheek.

            “They hit the light pole next to me, but I ducked down and ran into the house,” he said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night, just gang-banging stuff. It’s what they do.”

            Authorities said no one had been taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

            Francis John, 70, said she was in her apartment when the shooting occurred. She said went down to see what was going on and “a lot of youngsters were running scared.” She said she was surprised by what had happened, saying she has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years.

            She told the Sun-Times there hasn’t been much gun violence in the neighborhood in recent years, adding the neighborhood went from good to bad 10 years ago, to better recently.

          • Ulrich Robin

            You seem to not understand what average or “per 100,000″ means. You see while there have been over 200 deaths by firearm in Chicago (a place where guns are not allowed BTW) this year, (using the per 100,000 stat) that translates into 2 million people. In other words, of the 2 million people, 200 have been killed by firearm, or 10 people per 100,000.

          • fun bobby

            that seems to be the tip of this misunderstanding iceberg

          • fun bobby

            ok, so you don’t have the statistics to back your claim. Thank you for providing such a great example of what can happen when citizens are banned from carrying guns. Do you really want all of America to be like Chicago?

          • Ulrich Robin

            http://www.amjmed.com/webfiles/images/journals/ajm/AJM12080.pdf

            Here’s the stats for my comment. I believe both sides of this debate generally accepts these as pretty accurate. Of course gun deaths includes all gun deaths. Police and citizen justifiable shootings. Suicides. Murder. Accidental.

            What is telling is the crime rate. The UK, despite having a low gun death rate has double the crime rate that we have here in the USA.

          • fun bobby

            are you Raoul?
            I avoid following links on this site as I have gotten malware 2x.
            excellent point about the UK. It seems like, without doing any statistical analysis, that ones chance of having people pull over and chop one up in broad daylight in front of witnesses and cameras is much higher across the pond

          • Ulrich Robin

            LOL. Not Raoul. Just wanted to post the stats for you too as your comment appeared to question their legitimacy.

            I understand about the malware. The link was originally off an NPR story that linked to the study. You might be able to google it and go directly to the study. A Clinical Research Study-Gun Ownership and Firearm Related Deaths from The American Journal of Medicine.

          • fun bobby

            I was questioning Raoul’s claims about death rates in Seattle and Oregon.

          • Ulrich Robin

            Yeah I knew you were questioning Raoul overall, but the part at the end about “stats seeming a little off” I wasn’t quite sure about. I just read it wrong. Didn’t get my coffee this morning.

          • fun bobby

            seemed a little high. what year was your data from?

          • Ulrich Robin

            The gun ownership stat was from a 2007 small arms survey. The other data didn’t provide years but was gathered from WHO (gun deaths) reports, United Nations (crime stats)averaged over a time period if I read it right.

          • fun bobby

            that was what was throwing me off. gun related homicides have fallen so much since then. there were about 2,300 fewer gun deaths in 2011 as 2007. they better ban guns quick before this homicide rate plummets further

        • Ulrich Robin

          The American Journal Of Medicine has this report. Third Page has every major country’s stats.

          http://www.amjmed.com/webfiles/images/journals/ajm/AJM12080.pdf

    • fun bobby

      “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
      –Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824.

    • fun bobby

      some people don’t vote. doing your duty as an American is optional

  • danhs

    There are lots of realistic gun violence prevention measures that gun owners wish to see implemented, so why do gun control advocates prefer to fight gun owners and create lies than work with gun owners and succeed on violence prevention measures both sides can agree on? Why must there be conflict instead of cooperation? Gun control advocates refuse to cooperate, they insist on conflict and it costs lives.

  • Joe brown

    The campaign needs to be against the abuse of presciption drugs. Mental health is the issue here, not guns. “Self control, not gun control.”
    If Obama values his and the first families’ lives enough to allow his SS bodyguards to carry “assault rifles” with “large” capacity magazines, does he not value our lives and the lives of our children to allow us to use the same defense tools that he uses?

    • fun bobby

      he would say you are free to hire your own private armed security.. and to eat cake

  • III

    The Human Brain is one of the last frontiers; we will be exploring it and trying to figure it out over the next century. Why to people pretend it will be easier to figure out the whole human brain, with all it’s complexities, in order to figure out who might be crazy and shouldn’t have a gun; rather than simply regulating a couple century old technology (guns)?

    • fun bobby

      guns are extremely regulated. 20,000+ federal laws alone.what additional regulation would you like to see that would have prevented this tragedy? why has no one even asked the question of what pharmaceuticals these individuals were subjected to?

  • George

    Expose the NRA exactly for what it is: a high powered lobbying arm for the gun manufacturers. Some focused investigative reporting on the NRA would help educate the public.

    • Alden

      Yup!

    • fun bobby

      hmm I am not a gun manufacturer. I don’t think most of the other 3 million+ members actually manufacture guns either. perhaps someone should look into Bloomberg’s one man war on our liberty

  • R Lleo

    Your host allowed the guest to make a blatantly false assertion, viz., that “assault weapons” that people buy are the same as weapons soldiers are issued and use. His credibility is at risk because it seems that just about everyone but the host and guest know that armed forces use selective fire weapon, i.e., the user can select how many bullets are fired for each activation of the trigger. It is practically impossible for civilians to get selective fire guns. “Semi-automatic,” a term he used to describe “assault weapons,” ,means that one round is fired for each pull of the trigger. This technology predates bolt-action rifles.

    The biggest problem advocates of either side face is the difference in terms and definitions as outlined above. “Antigunners” who use terms like assault rifles to mean pretty ordinary semiautomatic rifles are seen as ignorant and unqualified to discuss guns at all.

    • twells

      Not disagreeing with you … but a point of clarification: Soldiers use assault rifles – this is a well-defined term for a selective semi-automatic or automatic rifle for military use.. “Assault weapon” is a construct of the media and is vague in its implementation. I personally believe that the term “assault weapon” was purposely coined to confuse those who do not know the difference to assume that assault weapon = assault rifle. Civilians, with some very rare exceptions for collectors and Hollywood, cannot own assault rifles.

    • Alden

      Seems like a very fine point and not really relevant to the bigger issue.

    • fun bobby

      more so when they decry the evils of “magazine clips”

  • Veritas Cupitor

    statistically, you are more likely to be killed by a dog than killed in a mass shooting. The vast majority of gun violence is committed by those who did not obtain a firearm through legal channels. Half of all deaths from guns in the US are suicides in which only the perpetrator is killed. Overall, gun violence has decreased over the last 20 years; as has violent crimes on the whole. Not to mention that Adam Lanza and James Holmes both could have obtained a firearm legally under the proposed forms of regulation that are in the works. So, restricting access to guns does not seem like a fix at all. If we are concerned about mental illness and criminality, then why don’t we focus our attention on social programs that help provide proper treatment for the mentally ill and that assist inner city youth (who commit the most gun violence statistically) to raise up out of the cycle of poverty that breads a culture of violence?

    • AnnaSumpter

      Statistically you’re much, much, much more likely to be killed by a doctor, or punched in the face (fatally) than shot with a rifle. Heck, I think it’s even more likely to be struck by lightning every year.

      Though I’d be curious to see actual defensive numbers per year. That’d shut some people up if we had that…

      • fun bobby

        its hard to define and/or find the data. the gun grabbers at Harvard put the number of defensive uses per year at 100,000+. another estimate puts it at around 2 million times a year. the true figure is probably somewhere between. I like to use the gun grabbers own number. 100,000 lives saved per year seems like plenty of justification besides the fact it is our right

  • docwill

    Re: “need to own…”. It’s not your call. You control freaks are welcome to act upon your own perceived “needs” and that’s the end of your legitimate authority. Barrett is correct in hos observations. of Leftist overreach, distortions and ad hominem. Thank God you appear to be losing this battle. We will never quit our “eternal vigilance..”

    • fun bobby

      not while my hands are still warm

  • Joe

    Let’s look at other systems that are supposedly controlled. Alcohol is government controlled but there is still a very healthy boot leg and illegal moonshine business. There are ways for people to get guns without going to a gun dealer. These strict laws only affect law abiding gun owners. Plus once a person owns a gun, they could very easily have mental issues later in life with no prior indications.

    • fun bobby

      especially if the CIA starts beaming voices into their heads with microwaves

  • JC

    We can start by changing the terminology to gun safety and not gun control. I don’t want to control your gun, I want it used safely. And enforce all existing laws. All monies made by gun makers after the gun buying surge that follows large scale shootings need to go to schools to pay for the security systems. No stockholder should profit.
    And who is going to take your gun? That is the most absurd lie the gun maker tells. There is no organization that has the capacity to take the guns away. Just more of the big lie to make money for the gun maker.

    • Ulrich Robin

      Won’t the stock holders of the security systems profit?

    • fun bobby

      yes the problem is you need better newspeak. then people will line up to have their rights shredded!
      the state of New York

  • Newtown Neighbor

    Mr. Barrett may not have been aware of the points that activists from the Newtown area, Chicago, Aurora CO, Hartford, the Virginia Tech community and many other communities have been making to Congress. .
    He said “activists on both sides” gravitate to the most radioactive issues. In fact, what we are pushing for is universal background checks. About 40% of American gun sales are made by private sellers, not just at gun shows or between neighbors, but between strangers who connect on the internet or even between strangers who meet in parking lots and on street corners. We believe those sales should be subject to background checks to screen out felons, those adjudicated dangerously mentally ill and those subject to restraining orders that forbid possession of firearms. ‘
    Second, he said debates about issues related to guns is used by both sides as an issue dealing with “a whole range of political issues.” Not true for those from communities affected by gun violence. We unite over only one issue: a desire to end the senseless bloodshed in our schools, neighborhoods, parks, movie theaters and workplaces. For us, this has absolutely nothing to do with other political and cultural issues.
    Finally, early in the interview, Mr. Barrett mentioned a couple of measures — including focusing on background checks as a crime prevention measure — as something that could gain popular support. In fact, that is just what we are doing in Congress. Our proposals are not radical or antigun. We only seek to keep guns away from felons, the seriously mentally ill or those subject to some judicial restraining orders. .

    • fun bobby

      hmm can you tell me which of the recent mass shootings would have been prevented by “universal (unenforceable) background checks”? seems like a red herring at best and an anti liberty plot at worst

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Mr. Barret should find “more constructive” things to write about – especially given that our kids would already rather play GTA than read a book – even his book. Besides on March 16, Congress and the President approved the most sweeping (but probably unconstitutional) legislation of all time, when they signed into law the, so called, “America Invents Act” (AIA) without even 1/1000 people knowing what it would do to 220 year old patent law (provided for in Article 1, Section 8 of the original Constitution – not an amendment to it). Original such provisions were meant to protect both rich AND poor when it came to their right to receive protection for their new and inventive works.

    With a patent “reform” bill introduced a few years ago (at the behest of wealthy multinationals and their lobbyists) Congress simple swept away those 220 year old Constitutional provisions and adopted what they liked much better – European and Japanese style patent law, that makes the one first able to get to the patent office, the likely recipient of a patent – NOT necessarily the first one to come up with a new invention. From now on, you will not only have to be required to be a very innovative individual – you will also have to already be rich, too (or you will never succeed in protecting your IP). Even the media and constitutional lawyers apparently couldn’t care less about this re-write of the Constitution (because patent lawyers will now make even more money)!

    So, why not just have Congress do the same thing with regards to the 2nd amendment? Have them quickly adopt European and Japanese gun laws too! If it worked for patent “reform” in the interest of “harmonization” with Europe, why not also “harmonize” our gun laws, with those of the rest of the world as well? After all, who cares about that “old” Constitution anymore, anyway? Let’s just pass legislation that meets with the like of the wealthy 1% in America. To hell with the next Tesla, Edison, Wozniac, Jobs, Gates, Musk, Bezos, etc.!!! Just let the large corporations come up with what it is THEY SAY (and control) what it is that “we want” (but don’t know it).

    Yeah, we really need more gun innovations, rather than other new technologies!

    • fun bobby

      they are printing them as fast as they can I am sure

  • Alden

    This discussion, and the frequent references to “mental health” put me in mind of the book “Gun Show Nation” by (gun owner) Joan Burdick (New Press, 2006), in which she traces the idols, and the evolving self-image, of the gun enthusiast, from Buffalo Bill through Teddy Roosevelt, to the G Man, John Wayne, and whatever video game hero of today. These associations of oneself with characters that are always fictional (however real their origins might have been) are fantasies, delusions, are they not? And their persistence suggests a mental health crisis, not among the occasional mass murderer, but among gun enthusiasts in general. But we ought to dig deeper than that. Why imagine oneself as a fictional hero? All the protestations about the Second Amendment, Freedom, Big Government, etc. make a common statement: “Huge impersonal forces dominate me. How can I defend myself?” It is a cry of helplessness and fear. This needs finer parsing than space permits here, but if we admit the presence of some such underlying dread (and I don’t know that gun lovers will concede this), then we should ask, Is this too a delusion? Or, in what sense might these fears be real? A rational discussion would be refreshing.

    • fun bobby

      sounds like you are projecting

  • fun bobby
  • J.r. Radcliffe

    300 million guns in the USA.
    A very small percentage of them are used in criminal activity. (much less a spree shooting)
    More regulation on the law abiding as a solution to crime is completely stupid..

    Impose a death sentence for any and all who use a weapon for murder/rape/robbery etc..

    Leave the law abiding alone. We didn’t do it..

  • unkerjay

    Guns are a key component of the problem. Hard to use the words mass “shooting” and miss that point. Not mass “stabbing”, “baseball batting”, “assault”, or “kicking”, “arrows”, mass “shooting”. That requires a weapon that “shoots” bullets of some caliber. At some point it may be mass “bombing” or some other kind of weapon of mass destruction and we SHOULD look at not only the users of such weapons but also the means of delivery. Just as we look at nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction from that perspective, I don’t think it’s unreasonable or irrational to look at guns (rifle, hand, assault) from the same perspective. I don’t equate gun control with a gun ban. And I don’t think a gun ban will make the critical difference. But as long as guns are part of the problem, they ought to be part of the solution.

    Maybe not the restriction of guns, but the restriction of ammo – comparable to nuclear, biological or chemical weapons OR the developmental materials, technology, distribution or acquisition.

    We don’t let anyone have anything they want now for the asking, so, I don’t think it’s that we can’t or we shouldn’t. We do. We’re just pushing back over where that line should be, what the limits should be, or what the trigger should be.

    I don’t think everything else but will adequately address or resolve the problem.

    Mass “shooting”s dictate that in some capacity, gun, bullets, and those who use them, and acquire them in whatever quantity should be components of the solution as they are components of the problem. That just seems rational, logical, sensible, relevant. Targeted research on how the components of mass shootings interact and targeted, relevant solutions based on the results of targeted research.

    WHY is this happening and what’s the BEST possible solution considering ALL constructive, relevant, rational, reasonable, sensible possibilities based on the best, availabe research and evidence of ALL aspects.

    Collaborative would be nice. Adversarial if that’s just not possible.

    Anyone has any examples to the contrary, please have at it.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

August 18 33 Comments

More Americans Are Flocking To The South

A New York Times interpretation of census data finds the South is seeing significant in-migration for the first time.

August 18 10 Comments

As Pot Laws Relax, Restrictions On Research Still Tight

The firing of a University of Arizona doctor highlights the complexity and politics of marijuana research.

August 15 8 Comments

Facing Backlash, SeaWorld Expands Killer Whale Habitats

SeaWorld has faced criticism over its treatment of captive killer whales since the release of the documentary, "Blackfish."

August 15 9 Comments

Training Police To Put Aside Their Biases

Criminologist Lorie Fridell says police officers can and should be trained to recognize their own internal biases.