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Gun Control


President Obama is proposing quite an expansive set of gun control legislation. It’s very impressive and it’ll be interesting to see whether it can past. In a sense, this will be atest of Green Lanterism. All the necessary conditions are set. Obama is fully behind it and willing to go all the way, plus he’ll never run for office again. A lot of Congress is skeptical to outright opposed. The public is engaged on this topic, both for and against. Can Obama convince Congress to Do The Right Thing and pass his legislation? It’s almost like Spielberg is directing a Tony Kushner script here!

I’m skeptical. I do believe it’s possible that something will pass, but I doubt it will put a major dent in American gun culture or violence, if for no other reason that there’s already an insane number of guns in people’s hands and everyone who wants them will buy 50 of them before whatever ban is passed goes into effect.

Fundamentally, my concern is the expense of political capital on this issue instead of taking the lead on an issue of nearly equal moral import: immigration. I know Obama is still planning an immigration push for this year, but it’s clearly fallen behind gun control on the priority list. There’s a couple of problems here. First, unlike the likely cosmetic changes of the gun bill, an immigration bill is likely to lead to very real changes that will have very real effects on people’s lives. Second, Marco Rubio is stepping into the breach to push his own ideas, which could have the dual effect of watering down immigration reform and convincing some Latinos that in the end Democrats don’t care very much about them.

In related news, the NRA is a deeply loathsome organization. Josh Marshall with more harsh language against the nation’s most insidious political group.

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  • Malaclypse

    Nobody wants to kill my kid. It is a safe assumption that some people do want to kill Obama’s kids. Are there people too stupid to understand the difference? [*]

    * NOTE: Rhetorical question, not intended literally. Yes, I know JenBob exists.

    • sibusisodan

      Haven’t seen the ad, not going to either, but from the description it seems like the kind of thing one would only say in advance of losing badly. It’s a desperate tactic to distract, nothing more. Vacuous dishonest bullshitters say vacuous dishonest bullshit. Who knew?

      I’d like to reach the point where it didn’t even occur to me that the NRA should reap their just desserts* because they no longer had any meaningful impact for good or ill.

      *this is a polite way of saying ‘go die in a fire, metaphorically, with votes.’

    • Cody

      “Are the President’s kids more important than yours?”

      The answer is sadly, yes. Obviously they are. If the leader of our nation had his kids kidnapped, the kidnapper would have some serious leverage. If my kids got kidnapped, the kidnapper would be able to extort my Star Wars Collection…

      (This is of course, assuming we’d negotiate with someone who kidnapped Obama’s kids. Even if we didn’t, the message it would send to the rest of the world…)

      • RedSquareBear

        The problem would be the mixed signals. We’d say “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” which the terrorists would take as a sign the President is willing to negotiate…

    • DrDick

      And Dagney.

      • Malaclypse

        Dagney is a crank, and a fool, but I’m not sure I would not call him stupid.

  • c u n d gulag

    Boy, you know an ad is bad, when even Cup O’ Schmoe says it’s bad on his morning show!

    How long before Sarah “The Whore of Babblin’-on” Palin puts up photo’s of President Obama’s daughters, with crosshairs super-imposed over them?
    Or, did Ann Coulter and/or Michelle Malkin already beat her to it?

    • Murc

      I’m not a Palin fan, but dude, not cool.

      You can vilify a ridiculous woman without using language that exists only to vilify women.

      • AstroBio

        I’ve met plenty of male whores.

        • spencer

          Perhaps, but the word has different implications depending on which gender it’s applied to.

      • Anonymous Won

        Thank you for speaking up.

  • This is one issue where I was hoping Obama would stick with executive action. I’d heard that Biden had discovered that many agencies simply don’t follow up on their reporting requirements, and the requirement for background checks is an excellent idea.

    Trying to ban high-capacity magazines and “military-style” rifles is going to be a total clusterfuck, if the New York version of it is any example. From my perch in western New York, the only result I see is the President losing more centrists who appreciated that he was doing a good job fixing the economy but will feel singled out. This is a big hunting and shooting region and the gun owners here already see themselves as upstanding citizens being undermined by a few “irresponsible” people. I think that’s going to be shared across a pretty big swath of the public.

    Guns are a Democratic-only third rail. You touch them and you create a whole swath of new libertarians.

    • rea

      What kind of a hunter uses a 30-round magazine?

      • From the stuff popping up on my FB page, apparently, every single one. Then again, Cuomo’s legislation banned 10-round mags and said you have to modify your existing ones or you’re guilty of a felony, which didn’t help him at all.

        I haven’t seen federal legislation yet, so I’m not going to light my hair on too much fire at the moment, but I do think this merits the utmost care.

      • Sherm

        A hunter of humans

        • John

          The most dangerous game.

          • Jesse Ventura

            Until you have hunted men, you haven’t hunted yet.

      • JL

        Maybe not a lot, but a lot of target shooters and the like use 10-round magazines, and the NY law would ban them. My spouse, who is a recreational target shooter (with a 10-round magazine), and favors some stricter gun control laws, told me last night that the NY law would ban about 90% of the guns out there. He also claimed that there was no exemption for police forces, possibly because they were in such a rush to get a bill through. He thinks Cuomo really wanted to get a bill through before Obama’s announcement because Cuomo wants to position himself for a 2016 presidential run, and that’s why he was in such a rush.

        He also made an interesting point that I hadn’t considered before, which is that trying to get people to own 6-shot revolvers instead of 10-round semiautomatic pistols provides an incentive for people with home defense in mind (which is a lot of people, however much I think people overfear home invasion as a threat model) to store them loaded. You can keep a semiautomatic stored unloaded with the loaded magazine in a different place, ready to be popped in. Revolvers take a while to load.

        • njorl

          Flip out the cylinder, align the speed loader, tap, flip in the cylinder. It takes about 4 seconds instead of 2.

        • Not really a great idea to store loaded magazines long term.

          The springs tend to wear out and then it may not feed properly when used.

      • Rhino

        I use a bolt action rifle with a five round magazine. In 35 years I have never needed more than two rounds while hunting.

        Any hunter who needs more than three should not be permitted to hunt.

      • DrDick

        The kind you do not want to be withing 5 miles of during hunting season.

    • Cody

      I think most rational people would see that a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are pretty low impact.

      I thought these were illegal in most states anyways? The description of the bill as “far-reaching” certainly doesn’t help. I know Obama is trying to talk it up, but his seems like a pretty small step. A good one making it Federal, but only the Right is going to care that much because they’ll go all “TAKING ALL OUR GUNS” on Obama.

      • There is a legitimate question of what exactly an “assault weapon” means. An “assault rifle” has a straight-up-no-chaser technical definition and, because they’re full-auto guns, they’ve been banned for a while. An “assault weapon,” though, was (IIRC) defined by the Assault Weapons Ban as mostly a cosmetic thing, and Cuomo’s legislation here also defines it by points of identification, such as a pistol grip.

        The high-cap magazines I can mostly get behind, long as the law doesn’t overreach in that department. (OTOH this isn’t exactly my major issue.) I’d just prefer that if there is going to be an attempt to enact some sensible gun control, its political costs do not outweigh its short- or long-term benefits. It isn’t just the NRA and GOA driving this – in regions like where I am, there’s quite a few gun owners who aren’t NRA members and don’t believe the stuff coming out of Wayne LaPierre’s mouth but seem to be just waiting on pins and needles for someone to do something about guns so they can declare themselves the last defenders of freedom standing.

        • JL

          An “assault weapon,” though, was (IIRC) defined by the Assault Weapons Ban as mostly a cosmetic thing, and Cuomo’s legislation here also defines it by points of identification, such as a pistol grip.

          This was also true of the old federal assault weapons ban, with the main difference being that the federal ban required two points of identification and the NY law requires only one.

          Which is why I’m not in favor of an “assault weapons” ban. Assault weapons are a made-up category. I’m in favor of just banning the actual bad things that fall under the assault weapons category (e.g. grenade launchers, bayonet holders, absurdly high capacities) and ignoring all the random useful features that we also define as marking “assault weapons”, like pistol grips on rifles (superior ergonomics), pistols weighing more than 50 oz (heavier gun usually means less recoil), or collapsing stock (allows smaller people, like, say, many women, to use the rifle properly).

          Again, just to repeat, I think grenade launchers and high-cap magazines should be banned, and that you should have to pass a safety course/test, undergo a background check, and get a license, just to own a gun at all. And I can’t stand the NRA. I’m not going all “Woo, guns for everybody!” here. But assault weapons bans are dumb because assault weapon is an arbitrary category marked in part by features that have nothing to do with lethality, not an actual type of gun.

          • marijane

            Assault weapons are a made-up category.

            Yup, and I’ve noticed that calling something an assault weapon is a great way to lose all credibility with people who are knowledgeable about guns. If we want to tighten gun control, we need to know what we are talking about, and using the phrase assault weapon signals that you don’t, really.

            I am not very knowledgeable about guns but this is at least one thing I’ve learned.

            • jefft452

              “…calling something an assault weapon is a great way to lose all credibility with people who are knowledgeable about guns”

              And saying “There is no such thing as an Assult Weapon because technical argle-bargle”
              Instantly loses all credibility with normal people

              If you want to sound like 12 year old dorks arguing about weather a jedi is more powerful than a high elf warrior, be my guest

              But you wont win many elections that way

              • spencer

                You can absolutely present this issue to the public – and do so effectively – without resorting to the phrase “assault weapons.” It’s really not that hard to imagine.

    • Dan

      The only demographic that doesn’t support gun control of this kind was never voting for Obama or the Dems anyway. White men with no college education are a lost cause.

      • Well, in these parts you find the occasional centrist who voted for Obama and generally gives him credit but has real trouble with some bits of liberalism. For quite a few it’s abortion (Catholics are big in this town) but for a few it’s gun control.

        It’s not a particularly broad demo, I’ll give you that, but they tend to be the kind of people who, once they get active, they get pretty convincing. I’d like to arm myself better on the subject.

        • Murc

          Well, in these parts you find the occasional centrist who voted for Obama and generally gives him credit but has real trouble with some bits of liberalism.

          The technical term for this is ‘low-information voter’ or even ‘conservative’.

          I’m guessing from your descriptions you’re in Rochester or its environs.

          • Nailed it. I think part of what’s driving me here is that there was a glorious flash in the pan here that showed there was the possibility to get Western New Yorkers on board with the Democrats for a few things. Kathy Hochul, for example, had some bipartisan appeal due to a good record of constituent service, but not enough to overcome Chris Collins’ service and the new district boundaries.

            I realize it was rather anomalous, I just wanted to keep that moving. Some people are LIVs, but some of them are just single-issue voters or grew up in the 60s and really dislike hippies . . . wait, I think I see what you might mean.

    • Gepap

      “I think that’s going to be shared across a pretty big swath of the public.”

      Define “pretty big”. Cuomo’s legislation passed with a super majority in both the Assembly and the Senate. Most of Western New York outside of Buffalo and Rochester is represented by Republicans in the Senate, and the handful of Democratic Assemblypeople outside of the cities are in the suburbs, in highly gerrymandered districts. The bulk of the New York public lives in the 12 MTA counties, plus the Capital Region and Erie and Monroe Counties. All 45 other counties might account for 20% of New Yorkers.

      • Murc

        All 45 other counties might account for 20% of New Yorkers.

        To be fair, this is because the I90 corridor threads its way through a whole bunch of counties. Syracuse, Rome, Utica, Albany, etc. aren’t chicken feed, but they’re all strung out.

        • Gepap

          Albany (with Schenectady, and Troy) count as Capitol Region.

          Syracuse and Utica are surprisingly small (those two cities and their suburbs combined are lucky to break half a million)

      • This is true, I don’t know as much about New York State politics as I should, but I get the sense that in WNY the self-identity here of “responsibility” and “sensibility” is exploitable, and guns are an issue where it really comes out. I was quite surprised that the Senate passed it overnight and the Assembly took another day to get it out. The gun owner spin on that is that Cuomo gave them eight hours to read and pass it.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that (the chief executive setting time limits on legislation) not the goddamn opposite of how the process works?

        • Gepap

          Just to clarify some of the procedure things:

          The legislation was drafted only three hours at most before the Senate passed it, but that is because it was a work in progress, ie. the final drafted product was printed only AFTER the leadership of each house and the Governor’s office came to an agreement on what the bill would say.

          What the Governor did was issue a ‘message of necessity’. Before any legislation is voted by the legislature in NY, a bill must ‘age’ for three legislative days (giving people the time to read it), unless the Governor issues a ‘message of necessity’, which allows the legislature, if they accept the message, to vote on a bill immediately.

          New York’s legislature has never been particularly democratic in its functions – leadership queries their conferences, comes to an agreement, and then expects people to vote as they are told, unless its clear a member must vote the other way to survive. Almost no bills get to a vote unless everyone knows its going to pass. The same was true for this.

          The reason the Senate voted for it as soon as possible is because the leadership there is Republican – they knew their Long Island members could not stand against such a bill, but their Upstate members could not vote for it. At the same time, they knew every Democrat (whether in the regular Democratic conference, the Independent Democratic Conference, or their own conference) would vote for it. So to minimize the hurt to their conference, they held a quick vote in the middle of the night.

          In the Assembly, everyone knew the Democrats would pass it, but the Assembly Republicans (who have no power or influence of ANY kind) would make sure to debate it to the end. I guess the Assembly decided not to stay on Monday night until 5AM and thus took the vote the next day.

          • So to minimize the hurt to their conference, they held a quick vote in the middle of the night.

            And that will probably work beautifully, because the net result is only going to help Republicans – it’s not like the Long Island Republicans will be replaced by pro-gun control Democrats.

    • spencer

      You touch them and you create a whole swath of new libertarians.

      Which – assuming that’s true, which I doubt – would be terrifying if only libertarians ever effected any influence on things, ever.

  • Dagney

    This ‘expansive’ proposal of President Obama would be as critical a threshold as LBJ’s Gun Control Act of 1968.

    Before that, we had FDR’s National Firearms Act of 1934.

    Prior to FDR’s, the only gun control legislations were passed by racists in racist states, in order to prevent non-whites to own and bear arms. One needed to ask permission to the sheriff…

    At the genealogical roots of gun control laws, there is racism.

    • Yep, the black dude in the Oval Office–definitely racist.

      • Steve

        You could make an argument that there’s reverse racism in play here. The president is ignoring the big majority of “gun violence” that’s gang/drug/poverty/parole related and instead seeking to place restrictions on gun owners that he refers to as “responsible and law-abiding”.

        I think it’s a stretch, but the argument could be made

        • Dagney

          Let’s separate the gun murders out by referring to the statistics of the FBI.

          The single largest group of folks who both shoot and die is the gang-bangers, the black gang-bangers. These account for half of all gun murders.

          Blacks were charged with over 49 percent of the murders in the year 2011 (whilst they’re 13 percent of the population).

          A big concentration of those victims and shooters are Blacks aged between 16 and 24.

          It happens everyday, yet nobody seems interested in stopping all the black youth from being murdered in this USA, EVERYDAY.

          The way to do it would be to legalize ALL drugs.

          Even President Obama personally practices racism by refusing to deal with the issue of druglords, and gangbangs rivalry while dealing ILLEGAL drugs.

          The first gun control laws came to stop non-whites from having guns. It began in 1751, with a law in Louisiana that required Eurocolonizers to stop any Black and “if necessary, beat any black carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane.”

          Free Blacks in racist states had to obtain a license to have a gun. There was no restriction for Whites.

          • rea

            Oddly, nobody back in the time of the founders thought the 2nd Amendment protected gun ownership by blacks . . .

            (And you don’t know the history–the first gun control laws were directed at Protestants. Google James II and the English Bill of Rights.)

            • Dagney

              Than you for that piece of information, rea, about “James II and the English Bill of Rights.”

              I was referring only to the American genealogy of gun control.

              • rea

                What–you don’t think what happened in 1688 shaped the Founder’s views about government? Stunning wilful ignorance . . .

                • DrDick

                  History is not his strong suit. Of course nothing factually based is.

            • njorl

              Previously, Cromwell passed laws disarming Catholics.

              • Hogan

                Yeah, but what does Puritanism have to do with America?

              • ajay

                Cite? I’m not calling you wrong, I’d just be interested to see the details.

          • Cody

            Am I the only one who read this whole thing and got “Dagney thinks only black people should be submitted to gun control”?

            Also, a lot of people here are aware of this issue and would love to deal with it. A comprehensive social welfare program that allows people living in poverty to have a legal manner in which to support a decent lifestyle is a vital goal of liberalism right?

            Just the NRA would prefer we all have guns so we can shoot the demographic you mention. It’s (in their mind) a lot cheaper of a way to deal with the “problem”.

        • Uncle Kvetch

          I think it’s a stretch, but the argument could be made

          Thanks a whole fucking lot, dude.

      • Dagney

        There’s the issue of anti-black racism, but there is also the issue of anti-white racism.

        Older, white Christians without college education, especially the males among ’em, are increasingly designated as the scapegoat of all evil of today; they are ACTUALLY the only demographics that are fair game for overt and direct racist attacks.

        Movie stars routinely joke about killing white conservatives and white “liberals” in the MSM laugh along with ’em, conveying thus mainstream acceptance of the prevailing “evil cracker” meme.

        Look at the “the knockout games” played against white (or Oriental) victims. Google it: there are hundreds of local stories that the MSM refuse to connect to a trending anti-white affect.

        Confer also this article in a prestigious unofficial U.S. military journal, written by Colonel Benson (ret), a War College professor, Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A Vision of the Future”. The new domestic enemy here ain’t a drug cartel, a urban gang or a islamic organization; no, it’s a WHITE racist organization à la KKK, “Tea Party terrorists,” headquartered in… South Carolina, in Darlington. The new domestic enemy is made up of old, Christian, white folks, clinging to their semi-automatic rifles with high-cap mag, and their Bible. These grannies and grandpas will be the group to be crushed in the next major domestic battles since 1865 !!

        There’s a growing anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-conservative affect spreading through the university, cartoons, celebrity rants from Hollywood and the MSM.

        There’s a class envy (OWS-style) and racial hatred against white gun-clingers, against white conservatives.

        • Uncle Kvetch

          The butthurt is strong in this one.

        • Malaclypse

          Cracker can’t catch a break.

        • Robert Farley


          Adios. Your time here is done. Nice knowing you.


          The Management

          • Uncle Kvetch

            Adios. Your time here is done. Nice knowing you.

            It actually was nice, in its own perverse way…you don’t often encounter the kind of troll who gives the impression of knowing such a vast quantity of stuff without understanding any of it. I got some genuine belly laughs out of our dear departed crank, which is more than can be said for JenBob CarbonTruth.

            Oh well…guess I’ll have to rely on Roy for my recommended daily allowance of pseudointellectual right-wing blowhardism.

            • Murc

              I don’t think Dagney is a troll. Well, was, rather.

              I’m unsure about Robert dropping the hammer on him, as he seemed pretty genuine and didn’t tend to get personal, but dude is… pretty crazy. So I dunno. It’s Robert’s house, tho.

              • Malaclypse

                Well, he flamed out pretty spectacularly about Erik here. Hard to get much more personal than “pyres of dead babies.”

                • That comment was the instigator of banning him, yes.

          • Timb

            Damn it, why can’t we have nice trolls? I miss Meade

            • Malaclypse

              Maybe is we ask real nice, Rick Veneema will leave the fucking big Arbys in CRACKER HEIGHTS, VIRGINIA and come back.

              • Timb

                That would be awesome. I miss his fact-free rantings

        • rea

          next major domestic battles since 1865

          Doesn’t know much about history . . .

        • sibusisodan

          Turing machines are coming along in leaps and bounds these days, aren’t they?

        • ema

          Older, white Christians without college education, especially the males among ‘em, are increasingly designated as the scapegoat of all evil of today….

          Nuh-uh, the designated scapegoat of all evil of yesterday, today, and tomorrow is a safe and effective medical procedure…and Ob/Gyns. The two designated scapegoats for all evil are a safe and effective medical procedure and Ob/Gyns…and uterine containers.

      • Timb

        Dagney sure is a different sort of dissenter. Almost like a brain-damaged Manju….Cagney has heard of facts, but just just has never used in them in logical progression.

        Shorter Dagney: “here, point a flows to point b and thus proves the Earth is shaped like a triangle

    • Cody

      Well, assuming you’re wearing clothes you must be a racist.

      The cotton industry was only expansive because of the slavery in the South. Later materials for clothing only evolved because of this root.

      Ergo, everyone wearing clothes is a racist.

      You bastard. Glad I work nude unlike you racist people.

      • Bill Murray

        some of us have tree bark and animal skins as our ancestors did before being corrupted by the racist plant alliance

    • Lecturer

      Shockingly, there was no legislation concerning semi-automatic rifles before semi-automatic rifles were invented in the late 1930s. Apparently the Illuminati scrying crystals the gummit has weren’t working very well…

      • Dagney

        Semi-autos date from very early 1900…, with the great John Browning.


        • Lecturer

          Dude, semi-automatic rifles for regular use were very much a thing of the late 30s. Rifles (vs. submachine guns) that used gas to push back the bolt were pretty much all prototypes until the Garand.

      • Dagney

        By the way, I must thank you for your post (on a previous thread) about the band; it was great.

        • Dagney

          My bad; it was by Lurker, not Lecturer.


  • Steve

    Most of these actions are relatively narrow in scope, however, and experts have said that without accompanying legislation they will do little to curb gun violence, at least in the near term

    I’d be surprised if actual legislation passes outright, but you never know until the votes are counted. It does seem far more likely to me though that something like an assault weapons ban will be tacked onto an unrelated bill that’s more republican-friendly.

    After all, if you can’t convince people something’s a good idea on its own, you might as well try to trick them into it. New York learned from the mistakes Illinois made earlier in the year and didn’t even bother to give the public time to comment when they passed their gun control law yesterday.

  • On the other hand, given the public consciousness on guns right now and the fact that it’s pretty much a given that multiple Congressional Republicans will be pushed into saying really outrageous things about gun violence, brown people, Newtown, or all of the above, Obama pretty much can’t let the low hanging fruit go. It’s sort of the second term version of the stimulus in that regard, and hopefully won’t take much more lifting than the ACA did.

  • Auguste

    At the genealogical roots of gun control laws, there is racism.

    At the genealogical root of every law in the history of the United States, there is racism. Including the 2nd Amendment.

    • LeeEsq

      IMO, I don’t think sentiments like this are helpful. There is a time when, anger no matter how justified, gets in the way of getting anything useful done. Most Americans are patriotic and will always be patriotic. Even if the above is truth, most Americans will simply ignore it and the speaker. Revenge really can’t be achieved at a mass level. The most succesful radicals are angry enough to fight for change but not so angry that they want to damn their entire opposition to hell.

      I say this as Jew. My ancestors received a ton of shit of the past two thousand years including expulsion from Spain and pogroms in Russia. If polls are accurate, a large number of people in Spain still see the 1492 expulsion as one of the best things ever and think that Jews have too much power and influence in the world. Russians are even worse. It would still be kind of useless for me or any other Jew to demand that all Spanish and Russians pay the price for their ancestors actions.

  • Tom Waters

    I suspect that the preferences of the median voter in the median House district might be positioned to give the Green Lantern a boost this time round too.

    • Bill Murray

      sadly, the preferences of the median lobbyist of the median house district is probably of more import

      • Tom Waters

        That is the way it works when the issue is less visible and salient.

  • LeeEsq

    I think that a massive buy-back needs to be part of any serious gun control legislation. The amount of guns in circulation needs to be at least reduced by a half if not more. Pay tripple or quadruple the market price if necessary. The problem is that American gun cultural is so obsessed and paranoid that I think that only a minute number of gun owners would participate. Too many of gun owners see taking away any of their guns as being functionally equivalent of castration.

    • Got it in one. I talked to a few of my students about that and all confirmed their fathers (and it is, invariably, their fathers) were not willing to sell their guns unless they got a hell of a lot of money for it.

      I think the only good thing I got out of the New York legislation yesterday is that I got to see a dude I know who works at my undergraduate institution have a nervous breakdown because the big evil state government was going to take away his guns and then proclaim that he was going to become politically active as a libertarian. (Right up until this there had been almost nothing to distinguish him from any other leftist, liberal or Democrat on my page.) All of this personal martyrdom drama being played out on FB. I almost wanted to vomit.

      • Murc

        I talked to a few of my students about that and all confirmed their fathers (and it is, invariably, their fathers) were not willing to sell their guns unless they got a hell of a lot of money for it.

        This is why buybacks are most effective combined with bans.

        It’s essentially a form of eminent domain; “we’re going to ban this thing, but we understand you paid good money for it. Come give it to us, we’ll give you some cash.” Without the ban it doesn’t do much.

        I got to see a dude I know who works at my undergraduate institution have a nervous breakdown because the big evil state government was going to take away his guns and then proclaim that he was going to become politically active as a libertarian.

        Anyone whose single issue is guns is someone the Democratic coalition is probably better without. If they’re more important than everything else to this guy, I wish him luck.

        • jefft452

          “Anyone whose single issue is guns is someone the Democratic coalition is probably better without”


          Also too….

          Tribalism cuts both ways
          When some asshole strolls down to the playground with his AR-15 over his shoulder to “educate the public about 2nd amendment rights” and scare the shit out of your wife and kids
          Its good to be the political faction that ostracizes that asshole’s tribe

  • Scott Lemieux

    The thing is, the odds of any legislation that is both good and important passing the House are nil. So all that matters is advancing the ball politically, and I don’t see doing gun control first and then immigration as being problematic.

    • Murc


      I’d also point out that this is a “governing” year; that is, a year in which there’s no election happening and no Presidential election in the following year.

      Given the fact that not much is gonna get passed anyway, I think the Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time. You spend the spring on gun control and negotiating the various fiscal crises, summer and fall are immigration.

      Ideally we’d be doing a lot more, of course, but… the House.

    • Hugo Torbet

      This gun control talk is the most politically stupid thing Obama could have done, if he had hoped to actually get something that matters done. And that’s a big if, particularly considering that he will have $100M within a year of leaving office one way or the other.

      We should all remember George W. Bush strutting around in 2005 after he “won” Cleveland and John Kerry conceded. He was boasting about how he had political capital and how he was going to spend it. He then started talking about privatizing Social Security.

      He was instantly de-balled, and by the Republicans.

      Maybe Obama is as arrogant as he seems. But it is hard for me to believe that he can’t see the predictable results of this nonsense, not the least of which will motivate more people to vote Republican — as if that’s really different.

      But, then, when has Obama ever proved that he was concerned with the interests of either Democratic leaning voters or the Democratic Party politicians?

  • Barry Freed

    OT: Erik, why are comments closed on the Nagisa Oshima post? (I’m wondering if you’ve got something against Bob McManus who would be sure to weigh in and I’ve missed it).

    • That post is being weird. Let me look into it.

    • Fixed, thanks for pointing it out.

      • Barry Freed

        Sure thing. (and was I right or was I right?)

  • Joe

    The NRA is horrible, demonic even, they defend not allowing sane laws, but starting from top down to change the atmosphere, leading also to various states like NY to do things like closing loopholes as these movements tend to do (rushing thru so the usual few days to examine the bill is waived) is you know … eh.

    This sounds like Barney Frank. The PPACA? Helps millions of people? Eh. Let’s do something else. And, how do we know major immigration law is even going to happen? I see a lot of sound and fury, but when actual hard things — yes, small steps (see also how blacks weren’t happy happy just because the 14A was passed) — with real bite is at issue, eh, let’s talk about “green laternism” … next up, reference to “villagers.”

  • Rhino

    Am I the only one who wishes that Obama would use up his remaining political capital on something with more profound effects? Prosecuting torturers? Breaking up too-big-to-fail banks? These are less emotional issues, but far more fundamentally important.

    No legislation, at this point, will do much to affect the supply of guns in American society. There are just so damned many out there, so damned many gun fetishists and survivalists and psychotic militia wanna-bes, that this strikes me as a quixotic effort. There are huge problems facing America, ones that actually could be solved, but which won’t be if all the favours are called in for this.

    • Murc

      Prosecuting torturers? Breaking up too-big-to-fail banks?

      The former he could and should be doing unilaterally. The latter would require Congressional action.

    • Joe

      The problem with prosecuting torturers have been covered by others and this does sound like the whole ”Obama is such a disappointment” schtick.

      How is going after people allegedly protecting us from being attacked [the frame used in support of torture] “less emotional” than some regulation to address killing locals school children and so forth? Break up banks with all that entails, the powers that be, that is pretty big too. Congress needs to get involved there. How will he do that?

      Society was horrified at the mass shooting and there is an opening for some helpful things here, limited but helpful. Why is it a problem to actually seize the moment?

      • Anonymous

        It’s a problem because it is a completely unrealistic hope that anything can be done. America no longer has the luxury of pursuing quixotic goals. There are serious long term issues that need to be addressed in order to, maybe if it isn’t too late, preserve the existence of the nation as we want it to be.

        • Rhino

          That was me. I would love to know why my cookies randomly vanish.

          • Cookie Monster

            I was never there and you can’t prove anything!

  • Bertie

    I’d like to see some more pushback from the left against these proposed (or in New York, now law) requirements that doctors and other mental health professionals report certain people who are there seeking voluntary mental health treatment to the authorities where they’re thrown into government databases populated by mostly felons. Databases that it is really, really hard to ever get removed from

    Even if you don’t care squat about such niceties as due process and doctor-patient privilege, there’s a massive chilling effect/unintended consequence here that will cause more people to avoid voluntary contact with the mental health system in the first place.

    So far I only see libertarians, medical professional groups, and some disability advocates raising the alarm here; the mainline left civil liberties types are disappointingly silent.

    • Rhino

      I think it’s arguable that any time you start compiling lists of ‘undesirable citizens’ that its going to end badly and with abuses.

    • Joe

      I would be concerned with the procedures involved here but like regulation of prescription drugs and so forth, the “databases” here are ultimately concerned with keeping guns out of their hands. At some point, yes, those who are dangerous to others, not all those who seek some sort of mental health services, are in the same category of felons and children when guns are involved.

      • Bertie

        Except the New York law requires reporting not only of threats against others but threats of self-harm. That will be by far the most common scenario; suicidal thoughts and suicidal fantasies are not unusual among those seeking mental health treatment and can in the great majority of cases be treated in a manner that protects patient privacy. Putting the possibility of government reporting between doctor-patient discussion of suicide is a really big deal, people. A really big deal.

        (I don’t quite share your faith in government databases, either, although I’ll concede that there are plenty of government databases that have never been re-purposed for nefarious purposes as well as some that have.

  • Uncle Kvetch

    Prosecuting torturers? Breaking up too-big-to-fail banks?

    Is there any evidence that Obama has any desire to do these things, even if he had the necessary political capital?

    • Uncle Kvetch

      Whoops — that was a reply to Rhino.

    • Rhino

      Whatever, not going to get into the whole ”Obama is such a disappointment” schtick. There are plenty of difficult but solvable problems that he could have chosen. For all the tragedy, gun violence in America is a sideshow compared to more fundamental problems facing the USA and often by extension the entire world. I feel great sympathy for the victims and survivors of events like sandy hook, but in the end stronger EPA regulation (as just one example) will save more lives, and have a more profound positive effect on life than any doomed-to-fail gun control effort.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        Whatever, not going to get into the whole ”Obama is such a disappointment” schtick.

        No one’s asking you to. I just can’t see any reason to believe that Obama would break up the TBTF banks even if he could. The stronger EPA regulations that you mention, perhaps — and I do think he’d do a hell of a lot more on climate change given his druthers. But seriously going after the banksters? I just don’t see it.

  • Designer_Rants

    Erik, can you finally start hypertexting “Green Lanternism” every time you type it, so that readers are taken to a definition of the phrase? Which would be almost every post you type. I’m now nearly convinced it is only a colloquialism that you made up and are trying to force it into the political lexicon. It’s not working. If I Google that term, there’s THREE pages of results. Not THREE MILLION, or THREE HUNDRED-THOUSAND or THREE THOUSAND… But THREE full stop. Half of the results are from LGM. Erik, I’m a fan of your posts, both here and on Alternet, but this “Green Lanternism” thing needs to be dealt with, because it’s not even listed on the “disambiguation” page of Wikipedia’s “Green Lantern” pages.

    ZimZumZam. That means “Red Lanternism”, which means… oh, you should know what it means because you’re such an astute reader of LGM, which means you’re brilliant enough to understand the meanings of the most obscure and newly made-up terms on contextual cues alone.

    • Hogan

      Try “Green Lantern theory.”

    • Micky Finn

      Red Lanternism would be the belief that the ability to force change on politics is not limited by will, but by anger.

    • Rhino

      I was under the vague impression Scott coined it. No?

      • djw

        Yglesias, iirc.

  • Derek

    Fundamentally, my concern is the expense of political capital on this issue instead of taking the lead on an issue of nearly equal moral import: immigration.

    Am I the only one who has a problem with the assertion that gun control is of greater (if marginally so) moral import than immigration?

    • bradP

      Thousands of broken brown families are nothing compared to those broken white families of Newtown.

      • Malaclypse

        Since the overwhelming damage done by guns is done to non-whites, gun control’s benefits don’t, actually, mainly flow to white people. 900 people have died from guns since Newton – how many do you think were white? Does it even matter?

        • bradP

          And with the possible exception of magazine limits Obama’s policy preference will do nothing for that.

          If anything, it will already exacerbate an existing problem:

          Perhaps the most telling data concerns the racial makeup of who goes to prison for gun violations. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, for Fiscal Year 2011, 49.6% of those sentenced to federal incarceration with a primary offense of firearms violations were black, 20.6% were Hispanic, and only 27.5% were white.


  • mike in dc

    I’d have preferred yet one more executive order, directing studies to look at the causal link between firearms violence and the illegal drug trade(including violence committed by users of illegal drugs, violence committed by dealers/gangs/distributors/etc.).
    I think we could probably cut the homicide rate in half(again) if we ended the War on Some People who use some classes of Drugs in a semi-responsible way.

  • bradP

    If you are testing “Green Lanterism” on whether Obama is able to pass negligibly impactful law following a national tragedy, that might explain why you hold it in such low esteem.

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