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The Tragedy is Already Politicized

[ 169 ] December 14, 2012 |

One of many relevant facts:

2. Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States.

Time has the full list here. In second place is Finland, with two entries.

All a big coinky-dink, I’m sure.

I also I agree with this, indeed as applied to any public figure.   Arguments may be more or less effective depending on the context and this shouldn’t be ignored, but there’s no “non-political” reaction of a prominent politician to mass killings.  And this very much includes pretending that access to guns and ammunition isn’t a public policy issue with serious consequences.

…”Meaningful action.“  It’s a start.

…Also, I’m sure there will be narrative that Connecticut, being in New England at all, must have incredibly stringent gun control regulations, which shows that gun control doesn’t work.   Leaving aside the fact that all state (as opposed to federal) gun regulations are going to be of relatively limited value in a country with open interstate borders, Connecticut does not have particularly stringent gun control laws — they are middle of the road by American standards and extremely lax by international ones.

…There was also a horrible attack on schoolchildren in China today. Two key differences: 1)the perpetrator didn’t have a gun, and 2)the death toll was zero.   But I don’t mean to “politicize” the horrible events in Newton by suggesting that firearms might be more dangerous than lawn furniture.

Comments (169)

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  1. J.W. Hamner says:

    The fact that over 75% of the guns used in mass shootings in the US are legally obtained is what struck me. I mean people can say that a big part of the issue is that we need to prioritize mental health, but you still have to come around to the fact that east access to guns is the bigger part.

    As James Fallows pointed out, when people go crazy in other countries it’s with a knife, not a gun, and those little kids don’t end up dead.

    • mark f says:

      over 75% of the guns used in mass shootings in the US are legally obtained

      Thank you. I thought it must be at least this high but hadn’t looked it up.

    • Semanticleo says:

      In Scotland the guns per 100 people is 5.5

      US, it’s 88.8

      Yet this happened…..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunblane_school_massacre

      The issue is how to spot the nuts, preemptively.

      • GeoX says:

        Did anyone anywhere ever try to claim that strict gun control would prevent all gun massacres ever?

      • TT says:

        How many mass-shooting massacres have occurred in Scotland since 1996?

        How many mass-shooting massacres have occurred in the United States since 1996?

        Nobody argues that spotting the nuts won’t help. But easy individual access to firearms combined with lax regulation of manufacturers and dealers has something to do with it.

        • Semanticleo says:

          Nobody is arguing for easy access. I just don’t want access removed, or punitively proscribed, for everyone else.

          • Malaclypse says:

            If my favorite toy kept being used, over and fucking over, to kill people, then even if I myself had never misused that toy, I’d like to think I’d be okay with giving it up. I’d like to think I’d want to give it up. I’d like to think most people are not selfish assholes.

          • Anonymous says:

            Why? What other purpose is there for a semiautomatic weapon than to kill people? Why should any civilian own one?

          • Leeds man says:

            Nobody is arguing for easy access.

            Oh, fuck off. Just fuck the fuck off.

          • Speak Truth says:

            Nobody is arguing for easy access. I just don’t want access removed, or punitively proscribed, for everyone else.

            @Semanticleo

            Let’s be clear. This event is being used as a tool for the left’s long standing agenda of more and more gun control.
            I can remember perusing through the Sear & Roebuck catalog and looking at pistols and high power rifles that would ship directly to your home no questions asked, acreoss state lines and with no registration whatsoever. And yet, few of these events happened during that period.
            So, one must conclude that although access was easier, mass murders such as this one in Conn. were much more rare.
            More and more gun control is treating the symptom, and not the disease. History has demonstrated that it will not work.

            What we should be focusing on is why individuals are raging more now than they have in the past against strangers if you truly are interested in solving the problem.

            If you’re just interested in pushing your agenda, then this is probably your opportunity to rile the masses.

            • arguingwithsignposts says:

              This event is being used as a tool for the left’s long standing agenda of more and more gun control.

              Stopped reading right there, mouth-breather.

            • Semanticleo says:

              I deal with information, but when information is sparse, I deal in heuristics, which to Old Schoolers, means brainstorming. I start with the concept of
              cui bono, then proceed from there. It cannot be
              proven beyond a shadow, but those who want to see
              the truth will understand there is an overarching agenda to everything we see happen. Be wary. Be circumspect. And by all means, be self-aware

              That is all. Carry on.

              • arguingwithsignposts says:

                and 9/11 was an inside job.

                Your loss.

                • Semanticleo says:

                  Again, I say; self-awareness.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Again, I say; self-awareness.

                  Irony is dead, and you are now buggering the rotting corpse.

                • Speak Truth says:

                  Thank you Semanticleo for your most reasoned comments.

                  Most here do not wish to discuss the issues. It’s “more waffles” as if that’s a real response to your positions. Pretty sad, really…

                • John Protevi says:

                  Most here do not wish to discuss the issues. It’s “more waffles” as if that’s a real response to your positions. Pretty sad, really…

                  Future historians will date the end of reasoned discourse in American civil society — nay, the end of thr Enlightenment itself — to the way JenBob was treated on LGM.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Okay, when the person who gets his nym out of Illuminatus! tells you that your conspiracy theory is trite, overwrought, and seriously fucking mockable, you should perhaps rethink the path you are on.

                • Semanticleo says:

                  Sounds like you are spoiling for an argument. I was commenting on his snark.

                  You should either get serious about current events, or develop a sense of humor.

                  Cynicism and rejection of context is a killer.

              • Hogan says:

                I deal in heuristics, which to Old Schoolers, means brainstorming.

                I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this clear indication that I should never read your comments again. Life is short.

            • Hogan says:

              I can remember perusing through the Sear & Roebuck catalog and looking at pistols and high power rifles that would ship directly to your home no questions asked, acreoss state lines and with no registration whatsoever.

              Yeah, they used to do that with dynamite, too. Even if you were anarchist or Muslim. You down with that?

      • Leeds man says:

        In the US, gun deaths per 100,000 in 2011 were 9.0. In the UK, they were .22 per 100,000. Any thoughts?

        • Anonymous says:

          Any thoughts?

          To hold the views that you hold, one must believe that firearms have no value in society. That they don’t protect property or lives and that that they’re just a net negative.

          Not that many people hold those views.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Firearms hold no value in society. I am happy to say it.

            • tool says:

              Either everyone in Oregon is an archer or even in your hardscrabble upbringing no one you knew relied on hunting to help feed their families or dispatch an injured animal.

            • Speak Truth says:

              Firearms hold no value in society. I am happy to say it.

              That’s a stunningly dumb statement.

              Most research shows that 800-2.1 million crimes are prevented each year with defensive use of firearms…400,000 of them involved saving lives.

              More than 20,000 deaths are due to prescription drugs, but it would also just as little sense to say they, too, have no value because they are misused by a few.

              But beyond that, the political value of firearms is material. It’s the last option of the people against a tyrannical government. This was the basis for the second amendment…not hunting and not crime prevention.

              Before the US entered WW II and was in a support role, there were programs where the Brits would beg for guns…any guns…hunting rifles, handguns..pretty much anything…because they had tried to suppress firearms and upon entering the war, couldn’t crank up their manufacturing fast enough so here they were begging the people of the US for guns.

              It’s a fair argument to weigh the value of guns to society to the damage, but your blanket statement is just goofy.

              I thought I had seen you make some goofy statements in the past, but your thoughtless and purely emotional statement about guns above takes the prize.

              Give that man a cigar (exploding).

              • Malaclypse says:

                It’s the last option of the people against a tyrannical government.

                Cracker, please.

                • John Protevi says:

                  Considering that any likely tyranny here will be fascist, and that JenBob, for one, would like to be the first to welcome our new fascist overlords, this is particular ironistical, in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the term.

          • Leeds man says:

            Never mind my views, or anyone else’s. What about the numbers? Is the UK condemned to some sort of horrible fate because they have 98% less gun deaths per capita than the US?

          • DrDick says:

            Personally, I believe in statistics and facts. You are more likely to get killed or injured if you are carrying a gun. Having one in the home also increases your chances of being a homicide victim.

            • DocAmazing says:

              That said, guns do have some uses apart from murder. That’s why you have one. (Mine are merely hobbyist’s playthings.)

              • DrDick says:

                Indeed. I am just popping the delusional balloon about guns and self-defense (against other people). As I have said, I do not object to guns in principle, but certainly think we need to regulate them much more stringently than we do now. It is also the case that buying a gun for defense is generally a waste of money.

            • Wintemute says:

              Some one who believes in data and facts would not continue to link to popular reporting on the incredibly flawed Branas study for support. Comparing those who were assaulted and shot to a control group of people in Philadelphia who answered their phone is incredibly flawed.

              According to the authors of the paper,
              “shooting case participants were significantly more often Hispanic, more frequently working in high-risk occupations1 or unemployed, less educated, and had a greater frequency of prior arrest. At the time of shooting, case participants were also significantly more often involved with alcohol and drugs, outdoors and more likely to be located in areas with illicit drug trafficking.

              The only meaningful take away from that study is being involved in the drug trade in Philly is dangerous.

  2. laslo says:

    The righties began firing off emails and tweets begging for donations to stop the Kenyan’s attempt to repeal Amendment II before Obama had even left the podium. La Pierre must be giddy.

  3. OmerosPeanut says:

    The list does not include the Mumbai shooting rampage. I don’t think another word really needs to be said at this point.

    • Hogan says:

      The Mumbai attacks were a paramilitary operation using guns and bombs, carried out by ten people over four days. The only mass shooting on that list with more than one shooter was Columbine. It’s not a reasonable comparison.

    • Just Dropping By says:

      Assuming you’re referring to the 2008 Mumbai shooting, it’s of very limited relevance to the question of gun control given that the attackers there were armed for their attack in Pakistan, most likely by Pakistani intelligence and/or the military.

    • Nor does it include any firefights from Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria.

      And? Are you having trouble understanding the topic?

      • OmerosPeanut says:

        The insults aren’t needed.

        Now, on topic. The list was the “worst mass shootings.” Does a 4 day rampage not count as a mass shooting simply because it’s prolonged? That’s some incredibly fucking obtuse semantics.

        But hey, your call.

        • IM says:

          in this case a lot of wars should be included and the list would look this:

          1. battle of the somme (second day)

          You abe to asmit that your broad definition of mass shootings leads to absurd results.

          We are obviously talking about spree shootings here

        • DrDick says:

          The insults aren’t needed.

          Agree and your comment is an insult to our intelligence (and yours). The list also does not include any other terrorist attacks or military/paramilitary operations. You are the one being deliberately obtuse here.

          • OmerosPeanut says:

            Well, forgive me for thinking of the Mumbai shootings when I hear someone has put together a “worst shootings” list since the last surviving shooter was executed recently.

            DrDick, you really are living up to your name and I don’t see why you are going to such lengths to be such a jerk right now. I’m not insulting your intelligence, but I am willing to look past your repeated attacks on me for no reason to all to admit including Mumbai would lead to too wide a definition of “mass shooting” because of

            1. Time frame
            2. Paramilitary training — but not the weapons used! If you discount an attack simply because the suspect has a semiautomatic then some school shootings in the US are no longer mass shootings.
            3. Group of shooters
            4. Funded and supported by individuals or groups outside of those taking direct part in the shooting.

            #3 is problematic. And if you take a moment to stop insulting me, I think you might even agree. A lone gunman over a few hours max should qualify. Do two? What about three? Mumbai was perpetrated with ten men, which is clearly “a lot.” But where is the dividing line between a terrorist squad and what would qualify as a “mass shooting”?

            • Leeds man says:

              DrDick, you really are living up to your name

              Apparently, the insult embargo has been lifted.

              • OmerosPeanut says:

                So his every post can be insulting, but if I take offense I’m in the wrong?

                • DrDick says:

                  You are certainly in the wrong if you start off with “The insults aren’t needed” and then proceed to insult people who point out the stupidity of your statement.

            • J.W. Hamner says:

              But where is the dividing line between a terrorist squad and what would qualify as a “mass shooting”?

              Uhm, they were from Pakistan?

              I guess you could call Columbine “terrorism” if you want, but clearly it’s a different animal from foreign nationals planning and executing a mass bombing and shooting spree.

            • Hogan says:

              but not the weapons used!

              Bombs, fuckwit.

              English! Do you speak it?

        • Malaclypse says:

          The insults aren’t needed.

          And yet they are so very, very deserved.

        • That’s some incredibly fucking obtuse semantics.

          But hey, your call.

          Nobody but you seems to be having any trouble getting the difference.

        • Speak Truth says:

          The insults aren’t needed.

          You must be new here.

  4. Davis X. Machina says:

    Maine’s state constitution, as amended by referendum in 1987: “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

    Apart from slavery in the CSA’s constitution, anyone else recall a constitutional right so protected?

    • somethingblue says:

      So does that mean it would be unconstitutional even to propose the repeal of that provision? I mean, does that phrase actually have some special significance in constitutionalspeak, or is it just legalese for “you can pry it from my cold dead fingers”?

    • Pestilence says:

      So prisoners in their prisons still have an unquestioned right to be armed? or are they deemed non longer citizens?

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        My main concern is, if my debate team runs a gun-control affirmative case, do we lose and I go to jail, or do we just lose?

      • Speak Truth says:

        So prisoners in their prisons still have an unquestioned right to be armed? or are they deemed non longer citizens?

        This is a fair question. In most state, convicted felons lose some of their rights. And this really makes sense because a crime is a wrong against society. Some cannot vote and yes, some cannot possess guns.

        Do you want convicted felons to have guns? Is that what your complaining about?

    • rea says:

      14th amendment and US debt.

  5. Xof says:

    I look forward to every staff member of every right wing blog explaining to each and every parent in Connecticut why the right to unlimited firepower on demand is more important than their childrens’ lives were.

  6. IM says:

    Time has not a full list. It just assembled some well known instances.

    You can recognize that because they include the Gifford shooting, that with six dead shouldn’t rank high even in a list of (non.terroristic) spree-shootings.

  7. JKTHs says:

    Wow, 58 out of 100 gets you ranked 5th among states?

  8. howard says:

    this is one issue about which i have next to no hope at all.

    putting aside how deeply embedded the right to own a gun is within american culture (that davis x. machina quote from maine is perfect) is just how many guns there are in circulation already.

    insofar as i have any hopes at all, it lies in one of two directions: suing the hell out of the gun companies a la the cigarette companies or taxing and regulating ammunition like crazy.

    that’s not a lot of hope.

    • Logistics says:

      Gun buy-back. Federal stimulus and fewer guns. Melt them for memorial plaques.

      • howard says:

        ok, good additional one, but still unlikely to be of sufficient scale to keep a seemingly sane mass murderer from tracking one down even if somehow all new guns sales were outlawed, which, of course, they wouldn’t be even if we adopted this policy.

        • Logistics says:

          Perfect is the enemy of the good, etc. Holding reforms to a standard of perfection isn’t how we improve public policy. Would raising the costs (broadly speaking) of acquiring guns provides sufficient benefit (fewer gun deaths) to justify the burdens on law-abiding good gun owners, or whatever. There are numerous good policies we could enact.

          • howard says:

            i don’t think you’re reading me correctly, logistics: i don’t have much hope that there’s much we can do at this late date, but what i actually said was that your idea added a third option to the couple i have that give me any hope at all.

            i most certainly did not say “well, that’s not a perfect solution, so we shouldn’t do it,” which is what you appear to have read.

          • Speak Truth says:

            …fewer gun deaths…

            Let’s qualify that.
            I would like to see fewer *innocent* gun deaths…more deaths of those who harm others would be OK as well.

      • timb says:

        Bullet prohibition

    • swearyanthony says:

      As said – gun buy back. After Port Arthur, Australia did it. World didn’t end.

    • William Berry says:

      I’ve long thought that requiring gun-owners and would-be gun purchasers to take the MMPI (and getting a good mental health score) would be helpful.

      A delicious irony would be that those really, really wanting a gun would be the ones most likely disqualified from owning one.

  9. laura says:

    Really interesting fact that gun ownership in the US is actually falling (although this could have something to do with declining report rates; I can’t tell if this is factored in). If it’s true, the decline in gun ownership parallels the decline in gun assaults in the past two decades. You would think a decrease in gun ownership and lower and lower rates of “rational” assaults (i.e. assults with a motive of taking stuff or securing territory etc) combined with a relative increase in irrational assults like spree killings would start making gun control look politically appealing.

  10. Cols714 says:

    The problem as with most things politically here is that the Republicans have gone full out for no gun laws at all.

    So now it all falls on the Democrats to be the adults and regulate guns. Which will make the right wing even further entrenched.

    This is just another example of why it sucks when only one political party in your country is serious about governing.

    • Anonymous says:

      or more detached, take your pick.

      So now it all falls on the Democrats to be the adults and regulate guns. Which will make the right wing even further entrenched.

  11. c u n d gulag says:

    If we can’t outlaw guns, why can’t we outlaw bullets?

    There’s no Constitutional right to have a bullet.

    If bullet’s were outlawed, only outlaw’s would have bullets.

    Another idea:
    Since the Bill of Rights was written in 1787, why not limit, for average citizens, replica’s of guns available back then?

    Everyone can have as many flint-lock pistols, muzzlebusters, and long-rifles, that they want.

    To shoot them, before firing, they’d have to put a ball put in, after having put in the gunpowder, and then tamping it all down, and then pulling the trigger.

    That would work for me.
    Have fun, try hiding a muzzlebuster in your pocket.

    • FLRealist says:

      Agreed.

    • Anonymous says:

      you left out the wad:

      To shoot them, before firing, they’d have to put a ball put in, after having put in the gunpowder, and then tamping it all down, and then pulling the trigger.

      should be: gunpowder, wad, ball, tamp. then, pull back the hammer, powder in the flash pan, aim, fire. all done standing up. repeat as necessary, or until you’re shot.

    • Pestilence says:

      Pepperpot

  12. Cols714 says:

    There are so many obvious solutions to this. I don’t understand why the NRA and the right has decided to be absolutist on this point.

    An easy place to start would be to get rid of everything except for small hand guns. No assault weapons, no high capacity clips, etc.

    • njorl says:

      The guns you might want to ban can be sold for money, which is valuable to the NRA. The people who are murdered only have lives, which are not valuable to the NRA.

    • Murc says:

      If we’re purely discussing policy, I’d actually go the other way around.

      Small handguns are shit for defending ones home and person compared to other options. What they’re great for is concealing in your pocket until you’re ready to take it out and do something awful with it.

      Similarly, assault weapons are just that; assault weapons. They’re designed to be used to storm places.

      If you wanted to prevent gun crime and horrible massacres, but still leave people reasonable options to defend themselves and their homes, you’d want to encourage long arms. Shotguns and rifles. ACTUAL rifles, not assault rifles.

      Once upon a time, the NRA encouraged this vision of responsible gun ownership, as opposed to being run by crazy people who think that everyone in the US should walk around with twin Tek-9s and a SAW in their trunk.

      • John says:

        Indeed, this. People should be allowed to buy the kind of guns used for hunting. Handguns and assault rifles should be banned.

    • I don’t understand why the NRA and the right has decided to be absolutist on this point.

      The NRA is a fundraising organization.

      As for the right, a decade ago, being against gun control was winning wedge politics in the “heartland vs. coastal elites,” Republican-majority structure of American politics. In a situation like that, the incentive is to turn anything, in matter how reasonable, into an opportunity for us-vs-them.

  13. Jeffrey Beaumont says:

    Yes, the whole Chris Rock, tax bullets at $1000 per is an interesting idea.

    • Logistics says:

      If the tax were too, high, I’m sure the court would determine that this was a sufficient indirect burden on second amendment rights. But I think there is a lot of room to play between cheap and $1000. You don’t need more than a few bullets to protect ya prahpatee or whatever. Non-sporting ammunition should be really expensive or limited in amount per purchase (I’m thinking of how they monitor cough medicine for meth usage).

      • Phoenix_rising says:

        Good point.

        A government that can’t regulate how many bullets per time period that a nutcase can buy, but can keep me from what it deems to be excessive use of Sudafed for my allergies, is not doing its job.

        Maybe we can convince Congress that cordite is the new thing all the kids are sniffing and that it must be regulated as part of the War on (SCPUS) Drugs.

    • Coastsider says:

      I posted this in the previous thread, but apparently Patrick Moynihan suggested the same thing when almost 20 years ago – If Guns Do Not Kill, Tax the Bullets

      I think going after bullets is the right approach – give very limited allotments to people with each gun, maybe with special disposition for shooting ranges, and control access like pseudoephidrine at pharmacies. I’d love to have gun owners defend their need to extended mags for ‘self defense’.

    • Green Caboose says:

      Because ammo is so cheap now (but ironically often hard to get due to wingnut panic the last 4 years) not many gun owners make their own ammo, but just a few decades ago such a practice was common. My step father, a part-time gunsmith, routinely made his own ammo long after it stopped saving him money just because it’s what he always did, and also because his stuff was more reliable than most brands of ammo. (Yes, there is a big difference in ammo reliability depending on the brand.)

      Even now the equipment is relatively inexpensive. Casings can be re-used in most cases, both for bullets and shotgun shells. The rest is just a matter of buying common items like lead bars and shot.

      So, even if you found a way to make bullets ultra-expensive people would find a way around it.

      Look, I support gun control laws in principle, but in order to address America’s illness in this matter we probably have to address the root cause as well as reduce the availability of these tools of mass murder. Reich wing media – which went from the fringe to mass media following the death of the Fairness Doctrine in 1986 – is probably one of the biggest contributors to this culture because it has created a massive violently paranoid population by preying on the minds of those who are predisposed to believe that shit. Note that other countries in the “first” world that experience these kind of incidents are not coincidentally countries that also have a strong presence of Murdoch Media – countries like Australia and the UK. The neonazi mass killer in Sweden was also a steady consumer of reich wing propoganda.

      Yeah, I know, dealing with that root cause means you now have to fight the first amendment as well as the second. It’s not an easy solution – but if you won’t solve the problem without addressing that cause.

  14. Karen says:

    I have nothing intelligent to add to this discussion, but while violent crime in general is in free-fall, this kind of pointless mass shooting seems to be a monthly event. Hell, we had two THIS BLEEDING WEEK. TWO. IN ONE WEEK.

  15. DocAmazing says:

    Finland. Hmmm. Could this have anything to do with reindeer?

  16. Count Ulster says:

    If you live in Connecticut, you don’t need a passport to drive to Vermont or Pennsylvania.

  17. Hanspeter says:

    events in Newton

    Newtown.

  18. CaptBackslap says:

    Meanwhile, the magnificently mad Catherine Fitzpatrick decided that space video games are to blame, and the gaming industry is trying to cover it up.

  19. Desenada says:

    There were anti-choice activists outside my metro stop on the way home with signs comparing abortion to the Cambodian genocide. Usually I ignore or simply glare at these people, but I’d been reading about Newtown on the train, and I just said without being able to stop myself “Jesus Christ, people, there was a REAL massacre today.” One of the men said “What’s fake about this one?” Ummm… I just kept walking.

  20. caffeinated grad student says:

    …and on the other hand, you have Michigan looking at taking it’s own version of meaningful actions:

    Lovely.

  21. Manta says:

    What criterion do they use to classify something as “mass shooting”?

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