Home / General / More on the NRA’s Fascinating Argument That We’re All At Constant Risk of Being Assassinated

More on the NRA’s Fascinating Argument That We’re All At Constant Risk of Being Assassinated


Paul Waldman wants the NRA’s head on a pike thinks the arguments being advanced by the NRA are ludicrously illogical in an instructive way:

What an elitist, that Barack Obama, thinking he’s somehow above ordinary people, like he has some particularly critical job or something, and he and his family might be unique targets for violence requiring special protection! It’s almost like he thinks he’s the president!

This does actually reveal an important aspect of the NRA’s world view. As far as they’re concerned, all of us should act as though we exist in the same security situation as the president of the United States. You may think you’re just the assistant regional manager of a widget company, but in fact, a terrorist commando strike force could be coming to lay siege to your home at any moment. Which is why you need to be prepared not just with a gun, but with enough weaponry to hold your own in the two-hour firefight that’s just inevitable.

In the NRA’s worldview, we’re all a second away from the interminable firefight a hack director ends a movie with when he can’t figure out how to resolve the plot.

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  • ironic irony

    Isn’t this the same kind of mentality that everyone in every podunk town in America adopted after 9/11? “We need to protect this town from terrists!!!” Even though said town might not be of any symbolic or strategic importance?

    So, in other words, just another day in right-wing-nutjob-landia.

    • Hogan

      That was a repurposing of leftover Cold War paranoia. In the ’50s and ’60s every town in the country was at the top of the Soviet nuke list.

      • Josh G.

        Except that the USSR had enough nuclear weapons that they actually could pretty much have hit everywhere in the US in the event of all-out war (especially if there was a military site located anywhere near the town, or the Soviets thought there was). That fear was downright rational compared to the paranoia about terrorists (who are specifically going for propaganda value) attacking backwoods towns no one has ever heard of.

        • DrDick

          There is also the fact that the US located all its nuclear missile silos near those podunk town in places like western Arkansas and central Montana.

          • witless chum

            My parents good friends in North Dakota had missile silos about a mile away from their old farm house.

    • ChrisS

      I remember standing in our corporate gym (the only place with TVs), in a nondescript two-story office building in the sprawl of a #50-100 ranked metro area watching the World Trade Center towers burn and fall on 9/11 and a woman next to me was freaking out. She wasn’t freaking out because it was such a tragic surreal scene, but because she was afraid that terrorists were going to target our office building next.

      I’d like to blame a lot of our overreaction and missteps as a society on the face that most people can’t comprehend large numbers or rudimentary statistics.

    • Tybalt

      It’s the world they want.

      They want to be important, that want to be relevant, and by god most of all like every red-blooded mercun they WANT TO BE FAMOUS. They dream about being the center of attention, because their life is their movie, and in the movie of course it always strikes the little guy (the little guy looks like Matt Damon, of course, or at worst like Richard Gere, but nevermind).

      And it’s the same with the NRA. They and their supporters are *itching* for the firefight. It’s what they have been hoping for their whole lives, that chance to strap it on and show how studly they are. It’s Walter Mitty taken to a crude and violent extreme, but there are a vast number of people out there, many of them perfectly sane and nice and normal and not particularly stupid, who simply long to be in the middle of the movies that excite them so much. The mayor wants to be the Town Mayor (Tom Skerritt) who has EVERYONE LOOKING AT HIM when the threat is confirmed and he says, as the music stops,

      “Let’s roll”

      and then the music comes back on, pounding rock, and everyone cheers as they hop into their tanks and body armor and they go out and do battle with The Enemy.

      And frankly, I am almost glad that they do. They can think that way because they don’t know want, don’t know real fear, don’t know real privation. They can afford to think that way, and that’s no bad thing. Our whole culture needs a reality check, yes, but at least we can have a bit of dreamland.

      • David Menefee-Libey
      • Mark D’ski

        this is why i like first person shooters (video games). I can shoot lots of people (and aliens without green cards) without being arrested. Even better, i can be shot by the same people (and aliens) without needing healthcare, of course i have to restart the same level. All my life i’ve been accused of having an overactive imagination, but i do know the difference between “pretend” and the “real” world. what’s wrong with these people?

  • JREinATL

    Owning guns is really just buying a fantasy that your life is more exciting than it really is. It’s America’s longest-running Live Action Roleplaying Game.

    • I’m so stealing borrowing this.

      • djangermats

        I’m stealing it

    • Tybalt

      Well, there are two kinds of gun owners, no? There are those who use them as tools. Criminals, sure, but also people who hunt seriously, and also people who do live in genuinely dangerous situations, and people who work in security. The thing is, those people aren’t in the NRA, and the NRA has little if anything to offer them, and the NRA isn’t even really interested in them.

      • Bruce Baugh

        It bears repeating. The NRA’s membership is 4-5 millions. By any plausible count there’s a hundred million or more gun owners in the Us. The overwhelming majority do not belong to and are not represented by the NRA.

    • Owning guns is really just buying a fantasy that your life is more exciting than it really is.

      So, so, SO true. You nailed it.

      The average American is BORED. They have little to look forward to and little to realistically work toward. Wages are and will probably remain stagnant. Most of us don’t even have creative or restorative (making or fixing) hobbies anymore. Instead we just “collect.” Various forms of social media absorb our time. No one reads (except Twitter feeds and the funny picture captions on their facebook walls). It’s the TV, the Internet or nothing.

      The connection of boredom with the gun fetishists is: if they can feel that they are busy, busy, busy preparing for the Ultimate Breakdown of Civil Society (or as the fettis usually put it, TSHTF*), BINGO! no more boredom.

      Middle and lower middle class Americans also feel POWERLESS. Americans — rugged, heroic individualists all — really, really hate feeling average. Hence the popularity of the “apparently ordinary guy saves the day” movie genre. So when they feel that no one respects them, and every time people ignore them or don’t cooperate with them, they secretly long to be able to force them to pay attention, to grovel before them, or to “follow orders.” Carrying a gun under your arm makes you feel as though you could KICK ASS AND TAKE NAMES at any time you choose.

      This sense of powerlessness is also reduced by the fantasy of preparing for The End. They actually can take control of something, do something important. No, not just important, VITAL! Their families rely upon them for their ultimate survival! BINGO! They are in charge. They are powerful.

      So, bored and powerless people inevitably stockpile guns. We need to address the boredom and the powerlessness…but how?

      *The Sht Hits The Fan

  • UberMitch

    Terrorist: Attention American workers: your plant has been taken over by an all-star team of freelance terrorists.
    [the lights go off; the emergency lighting comes on]
    Homer: Not on _my_ shift!
    [jumps into an overhead vent]
    [in Burns’ office, terrorists prepare to kill bound and gagged Lenny, Burns, and Carl]
    [Homer arrives through a vent and karate chops them all]
    Homer: Simpson ten, terrorists eight.

  • Joe

    The ad is jump the shark worthy but then there are those who think guns being out there, there being a 2A even with regulations, is a gigantic threat to the country. That we all are at risk. It does work both ways sometimes.

    • Vance Maverick

      Could you rephrase a bit for clarity? I can’t tell whether you’re worried about gun fanciers or gun controllers.

      • Joe

        gun fanciers or gun controllers

        I’m not worried about either unless they go overboard. Reading various threads in recent weeks, some on both sides do go overboard. This is the sort of subject that invites that sort of thing.

    • Murc

      Depends on what you mean by ‘threat to the country.’ In the sense that it’s a threat to the continued existence of the country, then no, I don’t know that any significant number of people think that.

      If you mean ‘the amount of guns floating around, even with a restrictive interpretation of 2A, make us way less safe than we otherwise could be with no appreciable upside’ then yes, a lot of people think that.

    • drkrick

      Looks like a “both sides do it.”

      • Joe

        sometimes “both sides” in some sense do. For instance, both sides in political parties do various distasteful things. Obama isn’t god etc. Next, you have to determine scope.

        • bk

          May I then suggest you visit Outside The Beltway for some pure unadulterated “both sides do it” goodness 24/7.

  • Mo

    One of my favorite college classes was one on conspiracy theories. One of the final takeaways: You may be able to convince the conspiracy prone that any individual belief is not true, but you cannot get them to believe that the real reason there are not black helicopters is that NOBODY CARES.

    • njorl

      I always thought it was reasonable to believe that there are conspiracies. I just never understood why people think they would know about them.

      • Josh G.

        Why would the rich and powerful bother to conspire? They announce their agenda openly, practically twirling their mustaches in public, and most people don’t even seem to care.

        • Exactly. Dick Cheney was always quite candid, and the rabid right, including the NRA, remain so. No need to make it a secret.

        • burritoboy

          Until quite recently, the majority of Americans strongly preferred the rich and powerful and loved their mustache-twirling ways (the bizarre pathologies of wealthy sociopaths were widely celebrated, for instance). Only when the rich and powerful’s exceedingly stupid economic policies fell apart and demoted large portions of the middle class economically did there even appear the slightest glimpse of opposition to the rich and powerful.

      • Murc

        Case in point: LIBOR fixing. That was genuine supervillain stuff right out of a Clancy novel, but the whole reason it worked is that it was a SECRET conspiracy.

        • ajay

          It wasn’t, actually. Libor submissions were freely available. People were pointing out that they looked suspicious as far back as 2008. But if regulators didn’t want to investigate, and the BBA was convinced everything was fine, there wasn’t much that could be done.

          • Tybalt

            And it’s not like the fixing was hush-hush. People would walk the floor and ask if anyone needed a particular LIBOR target. And these are big institutions with a lot of people working in them. And Ajay is right, the whole thing smelled for a long time but it “worked”…

          • Left_Wing_Fox


            Conspiracies exist, but they’re made of people. People are messy. They leak, they blab, they don’t play along, or have conflicting agendas. Conspiracies leave evidence. They can be hidden well enough to accomplish a short term goal, but in the medium to long term, it all comes out. The sort of medium-term/long-term conspiracies espoused by paranoid fringers require superhuman level of cohesion, planning and silence.

            The evidence they point out is so scant and inconclusive that it results in multiple wildly different conspiracies, with the only thread in common being the conclusion.

            • Spud

              3 people can keep a secret provided 2 of them are already dead.

              -Benjamin Franklin

            • rm

              But, but, but all the scientists in the entire world who know anything about climate are conspiring to pretend that the climate is changing catastrophically, when actually they just want to provide a pretext for a socialist black helicopter invasion, and not a single one of them upon receiving his/her Ph.D. and being briefed on the scam, speaks up about it! Explain that, you rationalist dupe!

            • They can be hidden well enough to accomplish a short term goal, but in the medium to long term, it all comes out.

              This is why everyone knows Jimmy Hoffa’s current whereabouts.

              • dp

                … no, it’s evidence strongly suggesting there isn’t a location to know about. It doesn’t exist, despite the theorists who insist on believing otherwise …

                • Malaclypse

                  So, Hoffa was translated directly into Heaven, just like Elijah?

                • Spud

                  Well at this point whatever remained of a body was probably converted to indigenous animal stool decades ago.

  • njorl
    • You know, that might be a fascinating and informative YouTube presentation, but without any idea of what it shows, I don’t bother to click on it.

      I think others here (all over the blogosphere, in fact) are often of a similar mind.


      • And if you don’t, I’ll SHOOT you.

      • Before we get into where he’s linking we should be sure the link even works.

        Also: You can open it & then see what the tab tells you about it w/o actually seeing the link/video/whatever.

      • Or, it might be a screwed-up link that doesn’t load.

    • njorl

      I used the link link button incorrectly.

      It was supposed to say “Obligatory firefight reference”.

      • njorl

        …oh, it was a link to a clip of “There was a firefight!” from “Boondock Saints” on youtube, but it seems to be gone now.

    • njorl

      Now I see…

      I did it backwards. I put the text where the link goes and the link where the text goes.

      Trying again, though the moment has passed.

      Obligatory firefight reference

  • witless chum

    Even relatively sane gun supporters like Jeffery Goldberg seem to buy into this. He asked Ta-Nehisi Coates about that, saying well, ‘in that situation, wouldn’t you rather have a gun?’ after Coates was talking about the extreme improbability of him ever being faced with a mass shooter, even in a country as violent as the U.S.

    • I’d rather run, but that’s just me

      • Or duck, like the survivors in Aurora. Seems like a pretty sane course of action cuz to shoot back means standing up in the line of fire.

        • I might do an awkward combination of both. No shame in not being a hero, the vast majority of us aren’t.

          • DrDick

            Smart people hit the deck and get behind the nearest cover when gunshots ring out. That was how pretty much every Vietnam vet I ever knew reacted to backfires for at least 5 years after they got back.

            • njorl

              You want to avoid laying flat. Ricochets tend to hug the ground in urban settings. You only put your head and torso against the ground if it is the only way to get cover.

              If there are also explosions, then you get all the way down as low as possible.

      • SamR

        Not to mention that once the police arrive, they tend to identify the shooter by looking for who’s holding a gun.

    • snoey

      Bear spray indoors and nobody feels like shooting.

      • DrDick

        I can testify from personal experience that bear spray outdoors, if you are downwind from it has the same effect.

    • Murc

      He asked Ta-Nehisi Coates about that, saying well, ‘in that situation, wouldn’t you rather have a gun?’ after Coates was talking about the extreme improbability of him ever being faced with a mass shooter, even in a country as violent as the U.S.

      It bears repeating: we generally do not craft our legal code to deal with crazy outliers.

      Example: It is illegal to blow through town at twice the speed limit, swerving in and out of traffic and jumping curbs left and right. But if you genuinely are rushing your in-labor wife or your child whose throat has closed up due to an allergic reaction to the hospital, the cops are unlikely to arrest you and the DA is unlikely to bring charges.

      But what we DON’T do is craft an enormous body of law detailing when and how it is okay to drive like a maniac. We sort of rely on people being, you know, human about things.

      The situations aren’t entirely analogous. But it’s the same basic idea.

      • RedSquareBear

        Also, too, there is a staggering lack of evidence that legitimate cases of self-defense have *ever* been prosecuted, anywhere, ever.

        Didn’t stop all this castle doctrine mishigas.

        • wengler

          There was a case of self-defense in my dad’s family that was prosecuted. His cousin shotgunned to death her ex-husband who just got out of prison and was trying to break in her house to kill her. She was found not guilty.

          I would doubt this happens often though.

          • RedSquareBear

            Good point. I should have said conviction not prosecution.

          • DrDick

            This is exactly the kind of situation where this is most likely to be prosecuted, when it falls broadly under the “domestic disturbance” heading.

            • greylocks

              No link, but someone somewhere has been collecting lists of cases of abused women, mostly poor and/or black, who have been tried and convicted, almost certainly wrongly, of killing/injuring their significant others when there was a compelling argument that it was self-defense.

      • Manta

        Mass shooters are crazy outliers.

      • Lurker

        Really? Is this really left to prosecutorial discretion, not to statute law? In my country, Finland, the criminal code includes a statement which decriminalizes all criminal conduct that is necessary to save or protect life, health or property, as long as the illegal conduct is minimized and no legal, practical way exists.

        For example, my former teacher was skating with his daughter on ice of a lake in a relatively remote area. Ice broke and my teacher struck his head, dying immediately. The daughter also dropped into freezing water, and was unable to save her father. After understanding that nothing could be done, the daughter managed to get out of water back to the solid ice, and immediately headed to a nearby summer cottage, which was empty. She broke into it, took her freezingly cold, wet clothes off, used the blankets she found, put a fire into the fireplace and called the authorities using the land-line phone at the place.

        Her actions were characterised as an epitome of “necessity”. The case never went to court. The police did not investigate, as no crime had occurred. (Actually, as the daughter was only 12, she would not have been criminally responsible anyhow.) There was even no civil liability, as all actions were the direct results of a completely accidental situation, where everyone is liable for his own damages.

        • witless chum

          We do have definitions of what constitutes self-defense written into the law and you can argue self-defense if charged with murder, assault with intent, etc. But when you try to apply such definitions to real life situations, it tends to be murkier than the case of the girl you quoted. George Zimmerman is arguing self-defense, after all.

          • rea

            There are also, very rare, instances in which the common law will recognize a defense of necessity–the classic example is a mayor of San Francisco, who ordered private homes dynamited to stop a fire that threatened the whole city.

  • c u n d gulag

    If we want people who have severe mental problems, like delusional paranoia, to have a hard time getting guns, it’s WAAAAAAY too late – pretty much all of them already have more than one gun.

    To my Liberal NY mind, if you feel you want, or need, more than a simple handgun or shotgun to protect your family and property, or a rifle or two for hunting, then, to me, YOU are the ones with mental problems!

    • njorl

      I would add most of the people who have guns for protecting their families and property to the list. It may be reasonable for some people, but for most, it is delusional.

      • Tybalt

        Yes, it is for most. But there may be (there are) some genuine needs. The thing is, if you have a genuine need you’re going to get one regardless because you’re facing an existential threat. It’s those out there who are making a lifestyle choice that get het up over it.

      • Dead horse

        I live in a Guatemala City neighborhood worse than pretty much anywhere in the US. I’ve watched someone dying of gunshots, and saved a petty thief from a police death squad and another one from neighborhood “good guys” energetically beating him with shovel handles, all three within less than a block of my front door. My neighbors have had their houses invaded when they opened their garage door to park. I have had my tires shot out. I was shopping in a store when a thief held a knife to the 8-year-old daughter of my friend outside. And I have never been in a situation where a gun would have helped, and was in one where someone’s false belief that I had a gun put me in danger.

        Dogs help if they’re big (whether or not they’re actually teddy bears at heart). Guns don’t.

        • Karate Bearfighter

          I was once robbed at knifepoint by a gang of teenagers. I saw them coming two blocks away, but my guard was down. I didn’t realize they were going to rob me until they grabbed me and one pulled a knife. At that point, a gun would have been worse than useless. The only way I could have used a gun for self-defense would be if I had divined their intentions when they were still at a distance … in which case, I could have just turned and walked the other way.

          Not to mention the fact that in order to guess at what this group of kids was going to do, I would have to be that suspicious — to the point of keeping a hand on my gun — of all groups of teenagers. And all young men. And if you want to be 100% safe, all older men and some younger women, as well. As TNC has been pointing out lately, that’s no kind of way to live.

        • Just Dropping By

          I was shopping in a store when a thief held a knife to the 8-year-old daughter of my friend outside. And I have never been in a situation where a gun would have helped, and was in one where someone’s false belief that I had a gun put me in danger.

          Sounds to me like a gun would have been very helpful in that knife situation.

          • Cody

            For sure. Nothing like shooting that kid to teach her a lesson about keeping her guard up.

            Unless you think our poster is an expert marksman who could be sure to hit the kidnapper and not the kidnapped from a safe distance.

            • greylocks

              Which brings up another point that the gun nuts don’t want to discuss.

              Handguns that are small enough to be carried convenient are really fkn inaccurate beyond a few feet, and that’s when your hands aren’t shaking and the adrenaline isn’t pumping.

              The gun nuts all think they’re stone-cold target aces who will take out the bad guy from 20 yards with one perfectly aimed kill-shot.

              • Exactly.

                They also apparently believe that a thief so desperate to get away that he resorts to hostage-taking by holding a knife to a child’s throat (with shaky hands, no doubt) will somehow not notice someone carefully aiming a gun at him.

              • BigHank53

                I don’t know if any of you frequent indoor shooting ranges. I was at one once and the guy in the lane next to me was shooting at a full-size torso target at less than ten yards. He was obviously not comfortable and only about 75% of his shots even hit the target. He wasn’t near any of the ‘kill zones’. If he’d been in any kind of real self-defense situation, he’d be better off throwing the damn gun.

            • Jameson Quinn

              Dead horse is me; it was tragic cookie mistake.

              My friend was outside with her daughter. She coughed up Q150 — about 20 bucks — and the thief disappeared in the crowd. Yes, crowd. A camera might have helped, if I’d been closer and inhumanly quick on the draw; a gun, not so much.

              • witless chum

                What do you know, man? You were just there. Gun nuts thousands of miles away with overactive imaginations know best.

    • Vance Maverick

      Sounds like a reverse Catch-22. “If you have mental problems, you’ve probably got guns — because having guns shows you have mental problems!”

    • D. Sidhe

      I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that everyone with a gun is delusional. And it’s sure not reasonable to assume that everyone who is delusional has a gun. I generally appreciate your comments, but this one is a bit too flippant, and I’m hearing it a bit too often.

      I’m as delusional as they come, but I’m neither an idiot nor an ass. I won’t allow guns in my home, which in the past has caused issues with houseguests and partners and relatives. I’m not violent, I’m suicidal, keeping it at bay with a series of borderline effective coping methods. Guns make the whole thing way too tempting, seriously.

      I am, however, deeply paranoid. If it were up to me, I’d confiscate every gun, and I’m willing to take one for the team. But I, and I’m not alone in this, am concerned about the notion that my mental health professionals, who know this about me and are helping, will be forced to reveal what I thought was private information to the government so they can put me in a database to keep me from doing something I’m never going to do (buy a gun) in an effort to stop me from doing something I’m not even capable of doing (shooting someone).

      So, to the lawyers here, how is this legal? It’s a violation of doctor/patient privilege, and isn’t it also a violation of a right to due process? How is it possible that it’s unconstitutional, apparently, to register guns, but it’s perfectly legal to register the mentally ill? If we end up in the court system being judged not competent, that’s one thing. But how can it possibly be legal to put us on a widely available list for just having expressed, in a privileged setting, a possibility that we are a danger to ourselves?

      • I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but there is already a pretty much one database with your medical information on it, including your psychiatric diagnoses. It is not available to the public or (IIRC) even medical professionals per se (although they contribute to it), but it IS available to companies who do medical insurance and/or disability insurance underwriting.

        So if you apply for health or disability insurance and answer those health questions they ask you untruthfully, the underwriters can tell your potential insurer that you LIED. Tsk, tsk.

        • D. Sidhe

          I’m aware of that, and have done my level best to stay off the insurance lists with respect to mental health. It’s expensive, but it also keeps me from doing a lot of freaking out, so my partner and I consider it therapeutic.

          That list isn’t widely available to just anyone, though. And it’s not available to the police, or even as far as I know to the ER personnel who occasionally get to treat me for migraines. (If it was, I suspect they’d be a lot more hesitant with the painkillers.) This list is available to the government, to any idiot with a gun dealer’s license, to the counter people at WalMart, and to all of those scammy “Run a background check on your neighbors” websites. Right? I’m not wrong about the widespread nature of any list that anyone can check by pretending I want to buy a gun? Frankly, this seems like the sort of thing that gets me on watch lists.

          And while I like to imagine that I’m insignificant enough that nobody is interested in putting me on a watch list, I *am* paranoid, and it can be hard to remember that.

          On the whole, I consider being a danger to others to be a qualitatively different thing from being a danger to oneself. When we’re talking about keeping guns away from dangerous people, I can’t help thinking I’m not the sort of person we’re talking about. Is that delusional? Possibly. But I sort of think if someone wants to kill themselves, it’s their own business.

          Look, I’ve had a gun pointed at me. I’ve also had some jackass put a bullet through my wall not very far at all from my actual skull completely by accident. I am not a fan of guns. I don’t want to agree with the NRA, if only because I’m angry that *they* think it’s more constitutional to register the mentally ill than to register guns. But this does seem like a violation of constitutional rights, and I don’t even see a particular public safety benefit.

          I appreciate the response from someone I respect, and I’m just trying to find a way forward without letting this push e into panic attacks, which I admit is an emotionally immature and self-centered persecution response when we’re talking about dead kids. But I feel like I need some sort of map for dealing with my doctors now.

          • I’m not wrong about the widespread nature of any list that anyone can check by pretending I want to buy a gun?

            I believe that a person has to have actual paperwork that you have signed, and containing your SSN and/or other identifying info, like driver’s license number or suchlike, in order to access the background check database. Which is why the NRA is complaining that if background checks are required for all private sales, the two parties would have to go down to the local gun shop and the purchaser would have to fill out a form and turn over the identifying documents for inspection in order to get an official background check. Terrible inconvenience. So it wouldn’t be possible to do it over the internet from home with just a name, supposedly.

            Now, this is not to say that certain people would not be (or are not now) willing to use the database without the proper paperwork being signed by an actual applicant for an actual gun purchase, but that it would be very much against the law.

            As to your concept that it’s your own business if you want to kill yourself as long as you don’t want to take others with you, that’s fine, but the law is set up the way it is because at the moment of self-destructive decision you MIGHT decide to include someone else, or that someone else might be included accidentally when you pull the trigger (bullet goes through a wall, or ricochets, or you turn your head in the wrong direction and someone is beside you….)

            • D. Sidhe

              Thanks for taking the time to explain that to me. It sounds like there’s some limits to how available it is. That does make me feel somewhat better.

              I don’t like that the government would have access to it (they hold the list, of course they would). But I can’t quite imagine they don’t already have access to this kind of information.

              I would still expect the Find Out If Your Babysitter’s A Criminal people to get ahold of the information, privacy doesn’t mean anything to them. Which doesn’t amuse me, but I use a bunch of different names, so maybe it wouldn’t affect me in ways that I end up knowing about. Hard to tell. (Also, I don’t trust them not to just make stuff up or to apply info to dozens of people whose names sound sort of the same.)

              I have to wonder how often a suicide with a gun accidentally hurts someone else. The bullet that came through my wall was apparently the result of someone at the nearby bus stop being angry at someone else at the nearby bus stop. Still, every gun bought helps create the demand that keeps them manufacturing.

              I’m mostly *really* unhappy with the notion that guns don’t kill people, the mentally ill do. Put the blame where it belongs. People who are just angry kill people. People who are jealous kill people. People who want insurance money kill people. Most murders probably have little to do with people who have actual mental illnesses, and even fewer with diagnosed mental illnesses who would end up in this kind of database. But an awful lot of murderers have guns.

              Every time I hear how dangerous we are, I start to worry maybe it’s true. And I *know* me. I hate to think what goes through the minds of my neighbors, my family, my friends. I dislike being scapegoated by the NRA, and I don’t like seeing other people allowing themselves to be distracted by it.

              Again, an emotionally immature and self-centered reaction, but one I can’t do much about today.

          • Oh, and:

            I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that everyone with a gun is delusional.

            Nor do I. My daughter (the deeply-indebted lawyer) owns a 5-shot revolver and a concealed carry permit (which required a training course). She SAYS that she only bought it in anticipation of the Zombie Apocalypse, but somehow I think she doesn’t really believe in that. So, no, SHE’S not delusional.

            I also don’t think she harbors fantasies of being The Hero in a firefight at the mall.

            (She travels a lot during the hours of darkness and feels uneasy at lonely stop signs in meth country. I therefore believe she takes it with her in the car at least some of the time, but she tells me it’s always in a safe place in their garage. No need to get Mom all nervous, you know.)

            On second thought, maybe she IS delusional….

      • “Delusional” doesn’t have to mean “hallucinatory insanity”: people who buy lottery tickets are delusional as well, if they buy them for any reason beyond the entertainment value of thinking about money for a while.

        We are, as a species, inherently bad at math, especially probability statistics. We are, on the other hand, inherently good at storytelling, especially with ourselves as the hero.

        It’s a common delusion, but delusional nonetheless.

  • Mudge

    Atrios has mentioned many times that gun nut friends of his have a fantasy of being the hero and killing the bad guy. I see this pathology as the crux of most of the conspiracy theories. Also, this population segment tends to hate widely and easily (blacks, muslims, the government). And as we all know, they tend to transfer their feelings onto us liberals (the “this will drive the liberals crazy” routine that never does).

    On the Obama daughter situation, I guess we have to begrudge the NRA some credit for using elitist rather than their preferred word, uppity,

    • Julian

      begrudge means deny, you mean “give” credit

      • Mudge

        Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary: begrudge, to give or concede reluctantly.

        • Julian

          that’ll teach me; sorry.

          • Mudge

            lol..Mudge knows begrudge.

    • This. The real driving force of this paranoid gun-nuttery is socially marginalized white guys (or, at least, narcissistic white guys who don’t get the recgonition they feel they deserve) who want to make damn good and sure they don’t miss their chance to play Mr. Hero Man at the first opportunity, which will get them the public acclaim they so desperately want.

      For as much as the fallout was about race, I’d argue that this was the driving factor in the Trayvon Martin shooting, for example. It’s not that Zimmerman was an explicit racist, per se, he was just a fuck up with a hyper-inflated sense of self worth out to Stop the Bad Guy and get some recognition from the community/real cops.

    • Hell, I’ve got fantasies about being the hero and killing the bad guy. Instead of guns, I read comic books.

      But I don’t imagine that I’ll ever get to dress up in spandex and a cape, fly through the air, and fight crime…

      • Tybalt

        No one is stopping you… and spandex and a cape, as horrifying as it can look on a normally-proportioned human being, is far more socially constructive than buying an AR-15. I say do it.

        • And post pix.

          • Trust me, no one wants to see that.

            • DrDick

              You sound like a man after my own physique!

  • Scott, terrorism and the accompanying paranoid delusions of both grandeur and persecution, are the calling card of conservatives.

    Think about it: name one area of public policy where the right-wing card does not include fear.

    Taxes? Cut ’em or jobs will go away.

    Guns? We need more or else you’ll be raped and your wife mugged.

    Healthcare? Death panels.

    See? A smart author, maybe a professor who can use his grad students to do some research, could write the ultimate book on politics using this theme.

    • drkrick

      This really does work both ways. The liberal version is:

      Taxes? Raise’em or people will starve in the streets.

      Guns? Control them or your crazy neighbor will shoot somebody.

      Health Care? People without access will die early – maybe you.

      Trying to avoid bad outcomes is actually a pretty reasonable motivation for trying to get wise public policy in place, even when the two sides have different values of “wise.”

      • Uncle Kvetch

        Taxes? Raise’em or people will starve in the streets.

        Cite, please.

        Health Care? People without access will die early

        Statistically speaking, this is true, actually.

        Nice try.

      • “Taxes? Raise’em or people will starve in the streets.

        Guns? Control them or your crazy neighbor will shoot somebody.

        Health Care? People without access will die early – maybe you.”

        Except that, you know, these are all relatively true, and the statistics of, say, the likelihood of dying early if you don’t have health insurance is MUCH higher than of being the victim of a violent crime in the home if you’re a white dude in the exurbs.

        • greylocks

          They can’t be true, because wingnuts don’t believe them to be true.

        • L.M.

          Liberals believe that policy problems exist, based on the fact that those policy problems do exist. Conservatives believe that policy problems exist, based on their own delusional narcissism and paranoid fantasies. Both sides do it! Who can we belieeeeeve?

    • Karate Bearfighter

      A smart author, maybe a professor who can use his grad students to do some research, could write the ultimate book on politics using this theme.

      You might be interested in Barry Glassner’sThe Culture of Fear. It’s more sociology than poli-sci, but it does look at ideological uses of fear.

    • Barry

      “See? A smart author, maybe a professor who can use his grad students to do some research, could write the ultimate book on politics using this theme.”


      It was published in 1964, and is still relevant.

  • Sly

    So it’s agreed, then. If NRA members complete the same level of rigorous firearms training and psychological profiling as Secret Service agents, they can have assault weapons.

    That’s the argument they’re making, right?

    • Karate Bearfighter

      That’s the implication of what they’re saying, but I think you need to take it even one step further: they should also adopt the Secret Service’s actual protocols and plans for responding to a shooter. When NRA members agree that their first response to a shooter will be to evacuate the people they are protecting, while covering them with their own bodies, when they agree that they will attempt to swarm and disarm the shooter, at that point, they might be trusted with the same weapons the Secret Service uses.

      • L.M.

        Additionally, the majority of NRA members–having signed up for what they believe will be a sexy, exciting, dangerous assignment–will be required to spend their time filling out paperwork in support of investigations into suspected counterfeiting.

    • David Hunt

      Secret Service Agents on the protection detail of members of the Fist Family. I expect that there’s a good deal more scrutiny given to such people than the rest of the Secret Service.

      • witless chum

        But why does an awesome-sounding and italicized martial arts society need Secret Service protection?

        • R

          It is to protect us, from them, not the other way around.

  • CJColucci

    To some mentalities, measuring risk and making proportional responses is crazy: “It only has to happen once.”
    I live in New York City, a mid-sized, bespectaled white guy in a suit, riding the subways through dicey neighborhoods hundreds of times a year, often late at night. In about 30 years of this, I have never found myself in a situtation where carrying a handgun would have made me safer, or made me feel safer.
    When I point this out, I am sometimes reminded that I have been driving for over 40 years and have never been in a situation where seatbelts made a difference, but I wear still them whenever I drive. (Oddly, I rarely do as a back-seat passenger.) So there: it only has to happen once.
    But belting myself in is no big deal, either to myself or anyone around me. It’s a proportionate response to a small risk.
    Suppose, though, that I live, as I do, in a big city in the midst of constant construction and demolition. I am always at risk of having something fall out of the sky and hit me in the head. If I were to go about wearing a football helmet whenever I venture out of doors, would I not be regarded as insane? Even though it only has to happen once?

    • Murc

      The ‘it only has to happen once’ people don’t understand the concept of ‘downside’. Nor the concept of statistics, really.

    • Cody


      But the people who wear tin foil hates are no more insane, right?

      Aliens have never tried to control my mind in a way that would be stopped by a reflective material.

      But it only has to happen once

      • CJColucci

        A co-worker of mine swears he saw this in court. The plaintiff was suing to stop the United States government from reading his thoughts. He made his pitch before the judge. The assistant U.S. attorney assigned this case stood up and was about to speak when the judge said: “Mr. AUSA, I’m ordering you to go back to your clients and tell them I said to stop reading this man’s thoughts. Any questions?” “No, your honor, I’ll do it right away.” “Mr. Plaintiff, I’ve ordered them to stop. Is there anything further?” “No, your honor.” “Good. Next case.”

        • Cody

          +1 for the judge…

        • JoyfulA

          More wisdom than Solomon!

        • witless chum

          I really, really hope that’s true.

          • rea

            I’ve sseen this happen on a smaller scale on restraining orders:

            “Your Honor, I’m not stalking this woman.”

            “Then you can’t have any objection to being ordered not to stalk her. Next case.”

      • Trust me: Tinfoil is not nearly enough to stop the aliens’ rays.

  • ChrisS

    A) the NRA is about selling guns, lots of them.

    B) I would prefer that purchasing a firearm isn’t tied to a simple crosscheck of a database. Mainly because databases end up with inherent mistakes and I’d rather not be branded because someone with a similar name committed a misdemeanor in Arkansas and the result is that I can’t buy a new bird gun in NY. Or buy ammunition.

    C) judging by my facebook newsfeed, most of the same people who support rigorous profiling, registration, and tracking for even the most mild sex offenders are vehemently opposed to the most basic gun legislation. I don’t know what to make of that, but … there it is.

    • BigHank53

      Rules for thee but not for me.

      …covers a lot of the GOP’s platform, now that I think about it.

      • asdfsdf

        And the conservative mindset. Something about “personal responsibility” being the problem with the world.

  • rea

    It’s the tragedy of the commons meets the Dunning-Krueger effect.

    You can show that, generally speaking, having guns around makes gunowners and everyone else around them less safe. But every individual gunowner says to himself or herself–“Yeah, that might be generally true, but I know what I’m doing, and the odds are different for me. A gun in my hands will make my family and me more safe. And I need a gun for protection against the crazies who shouldn’t have them.”

    • Eagles fans

      See also law school.

      • Hogan

        Ah crud.

        • rea

          If lawyers are outlawed, only outlaws will have lawyers.

          • gocart mozart


  • wengler

    If you want to know the gun nut’s worldview, watch all Chuck Norris movies from the ’80s. I especially like Invasion USA.

  • Shwell Thanksh

    The first time I heard the latest NRA attack ad it made me laugh at the way the narrator chokes at the phrase “President Obama” and ultimately can’t spit it out, managing lamely to derisively spit out “Mister Obama” as a clumsy substitution.
    Even four years later, they just can’t stand it, can they.

  • Bitter Scribe

    I see this as just another riff on, “He sends his kids to private school. Therefore he is a hypocrite for opposing our plans to use tax money to teach that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs.”

    • Cody

      I’m more bothered by the President sending his kids to private school then having security guards.

      Though I understand the necessity to send his kids someplace special, would just prefer if he fixed our public school system…

      • JoyfulA

        As president, Jimmy Carter sent Amy, his only school-age kid, to public school, which created such disruption in the school that eventually he gave up and sent her to the usual school presidents send their kids to, which IIRC is Sidwell Friends, which apparently is well set up to accommodate high-risk students, the Secret Service, etc.

        Sorry for all the whiches; I can just picture that sentence diagrammed.

        • Cody

          Heh, forgiven.

          Yes, I understand the reality behind it. I could see how there is really no other option – it’s just unfortunate that’s how it has to be.

      • laslo

        There are over 14000 school districts in the US.

        If you think Obama is being called a fascist now, try telling these locally elected school boards how to run their little fiefdoms.

  • So Chris Matthews has a theory: the NRA’s post-Sandy Hook PR campaign is really aimed at competing gun-nut organizations. Because the right wing has fallen off the crazy cliff, the NRA is now perceived in certain quarters as being soft, and too willing to compromise with the liberals, so they’re going all-out to prove how crazy they are.

    Who you trying to get crazy with, ese? Don’t you know I’m loco?

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