Interesting Take on “The Path Forward on Guns”

I don’t re-blog much on this site, and I definitely try to stay out of politics (though sometimes I can’t help myself). Lately more than ever.

To be perfectly honest, I have grown weary of the culture war rhetoric on both major sides of the debate over guns in American society. I don’t want to see John Oliver making fun of gun owners or NRA videos of John Oliver on a TV getting smashed by a sledge hammer. I don’t want to see the mainstream media stigmatizing gun owners or Dana Loesch burning newspapers. I don’t want the Democratic Party to be anti-gun or the NRA to be a wing of the Republican Party.

I understand that culture warriors are going to be culture warriors, but I’m looking for a way forward, a via media, a third path. I don’t know if this is the right one, but I was contacted recently by Kareem Shaya about a web site he has put together called “The Path Forward on Guns.”

I can’t say that I have seen anything quite like it, so I told Kareem I would re-post it here and encourage readers to have a look.

The Path Forward on Guns

The gun debate: 5% gun nuts, 5% gun controllers, and 300 million people who just want to move forward.

But we can’t move forward. Really can’t. Metaphysical can’t. Unstoppable-force-versus-immovable-object can’t. We’re stuck and that’s that.

The way we got here is simple: each side is trying to destroy the other. You win wars by force. And culture wars are no different. Each side fires their volleys, back and forth.

The NRA allied itself to all kinds of unrelated hot-button issues. New York State passed a 2013 gun ban that achieved 4% compliance and had effects like a father of three facing 15 years in prison for a pistol grip. The NRA made ads that alienated millions of people and ranted absurdly about “the clenched fist of truth”. Massachusetts banned bump stocks and sent a letter to every gun owner in the state saying, “Turn in your bump stocks by February 1, 2018 or face life in prison.”

Round it goes. The gun controllers feel like the gun rights crowd will never give an inch. The gun rights crowd feels personally threatened — “If that father of three is facing 15 years for a pistol grip, I could be next.” And both sides just dig in deeper.

Then we try rational arguments and fire off statistics, but the truth is nobody cares. Each side has their arguments, each side has their stats, and none of it ever moves the needle. You convince a few people, they convince a few people. It’s a wash.

So then each side gives up on persuasion and tries to ram their laws through. But no matter which side you’re on, the other side is strong enough to block your laws. Sure, you win some state-level battles here and there. But that only hardens the opposition, and they win their share of state-level battles too.

Both sides sell their donors the same pipe dream: “We’re going to slowly change minds. Raise money, pass state-level laws, run PR campaigns, support good politicians. And one day, finally, we’ll get 60 votes in the Senate to pass our dream federal gun law.” If you understand only one thing about American gun politics, understand this: that will never happen.

For decades we’ve pretended not to know that. But these scorched earth tactics aren’t working, and worse, they’re tearing the country apart. Kids get murdered and we’re too busy grabbing each other by the throat to even grieve, let alone to show the grace and love that the greatest among us model. It’s nauseating.

It is high time for a fresh approach.

The other side isn’t powerful enough to pass their laws, but they are powerful enough to stop you from passing yours. So if we accept the truth, that we will never agree, we have to ask a new question: how can we move forward even while everybody still disagrees? How can we write a law that neither side wants to block? The answer is going to test whether you’re honestly willing to do what it takes to fix this stalemate.

People in this debate often use the word “compromise”. But what they usually mean is, “Fine, let’s compromise: we’ll do none of what you want and only half of what I want.” Neither side is dumb enough to fall for that. An honest path forward means something very different: each side gives some things, and each side gets some things.

So let’s take the honest path, which is the only one that has any chance of happening. A path that advances gun rights and addresses people’s concerns about guns in the wrong hands. I’ve talked to dozens of people about this in person, and hundreds online. They ranged from people who would literally join a civil war against gun control, to people who want a flat-out ban on gun ownership, to people at every point in between. Almost every last one of them said they’d support this proposal in a heartbeat. The entire political spectrum is up for this.

Now it’s time to see if the politicians and each side’s big lobbying groups are up for it. It’s fun to bluster and preach to your side. But when the time comes to actually do something, when there is a real path forward on the table, that’s the true test. Your pressure on the politicians and lobbying groups will determine what they do next.

The Specifics of the Path

For the gun control side

1. Swiss-style universal background checks

Yup, the big enchilada. Gun rights people often worry that UBCs will turn into the government tracking (and later confiscating) everybody’s guns, so this system staves off those fears while still making absolutely sure that every gun buyer is checked. It’s modeled closely on Switzerland’s system. Here’s how it works:

  • Any gun buyer can log into the NICS background check system and enter their personal information. The system gives them an ID number that expires in 1 week. (For reference here is ATF Form 4473, the background check form.)
  • The buyer can then buy firearms from any legal seller. They have to meet face-to-face, and the buyer shows the ID number. The seller checks that number in the NICS system, and the system returns just one word: “approved” or “denied”. In the former case, the seller then confirms the buyer’s identity using a government-issued ID, and they can proceed with the sale.
  • The system doesn’t collect any information at all on the items being sold/transferred (type, make, model, quantity, etc.) — its only job is to run a comprehensive check on whether the buyer is legally allowed to purchase firearms. After one week, when the one-time-use ID number expires, the system doesn’t retain any records. (That information is already archived for 20 years on the Form 4473 for all gun shop sales, and that would stay the same.) The system collects no information about the seller, as it’s designed to work perfectly without knowing the seller’s identity.
  • Transfers between family members are exempt. Non-commercial firearm loans of up to 14 days are also exempt — this is just to accommodate a situation where, say, two people are on a backcountry hunting trip and one needs to lend the other a gun during the trip. They need some way to do that without committing a felony.
2. Extreme risk protection orders

These laws allow a government to temporarily seize weapons from people who a court finds are plotting a violent act. They can be prone to abuse if written in an overly broad way, but well-written ERPOs would likely have prevented many of the horrible mass shootings we’ve seen. Congress doesn’t have the power to create federal ERPOs, but it can and should pass a law that incentivizes states to create their own ERPOs. The columnist David French wrote an excellent outline of what a good ERPO law looks like:

  • It should limit those who have standing to seek the order to a narrowly defined class of people (close relatives, those living with the respondent);
  • It should require petitioners to come forward with clear, convincing, admissible evidence that the respondent is a significant danger to himself or others;
  • It should grant the respondent an opportunity to contest the claims against him;
  • In the event of an emergency, ex parte order (an order granted before the respondent can contest the claims), a full hearing should be scheduled quickly — preferably within 72 hours; and
  • The order should lapse after a defined period of time unless petitioners can come forward with clear and convincing evidence that it should remain in place.
ERPOs cover a gap that our mental health system does not. The reality is that our focus on “mental health” does two catastrophic things:
  • It shames and stigmatizes people with psychiatric diseases, which makes them less likely to seek the very treatment they need.
  • It doesn’t even address the problem. Very few people with mental illness will ever become violent, and most mass shooters don’t actually have any diagnosable mental illness. But most would-be killers do throw up exactly the kinds of red flags that an ERPO system will catch.
3. Classify bump stocks as machine guns

The purchase of new machine guns has been banned in the US since May 1986. The way the law defines “machine gun” is very specific, and it doesn’t cover bump stocks. Therefore bump stocks can’t legally be banned by executive action or by the ATF. Congress will have to pass a law that classifies bump stocks as machine guns.

For the gun rights side

1. Put silencers in the same legal category as handguns, not grenade launchers

Because of an 84-year-old law (the National Firearms Act, or NFA), silencers (also called suppressors or mufflers) are currently in the same legal category as grenade launchers. To buy one, you pay a $200 tax to the ATF, and then you wait. Currently the average wait time is 7 months. Many people incorrectly believe that the long wait is for some kind of extra-thorough background check. It’s not; silencers are subject to the exact same background check as all firearms are. The 7-month wait is literally just for the ATF to work through its paperwork backlog. Also, if you loan your silencer to a family member who’s going on a hunting trip, that loan is a felony punishable by 10 years in federal prison. To stay out of jail, you’d have to do the $200 tax + 7-month wait again just to loan the silencer to your dad. Then when he gives it back to you? $200 tax + 7-month wait again.

So what do silencers do? Well, apart from an explosion or a rocket launch, a gunshot is quite simply the loudest sound in the human world. It is deafeningly, dangerously loud, around 165 debicels. Decibels are a logarithmic scale, so every 10 dB is 2x as loud. A jackhammer is 115 dB. A jet airplane taking off 25 yards away is 130 dB. The OSHA standard for sound that will instantly damage your hearing is 140 dB. Guns are another 4-6x louder than that OSHA cutoff.

A silencer lowers a gunshot to about 130 dB. Contrary to what you see in movies, that’s still 3x louder than a jackhammer. Extremely loud, but just quiet enough to not instantly damage your hearing. That’s why in countries like Norway and New Zealand, silencers are completely unregulated and it’s considered rude and unsafe to hunt without one.

This proposal is much more modest than that: simply change silencers from a Title II firearm to a Title I firearm. Instead of putting them in the same legal category as grenade launchers, put them in the same category as handguns — available to adults who pass a NICS background check, denied to those who don’t.

2. Repeal Depression-era barrel length laws

Because of the same 1934 law that affects silencers (the National Firearms Act, or NFA), rifles and shotguns in the US must have a minimum barrel length (16″ and 18″, respectively). So you can go to the store, pass a background check, and buy a rifle with a 16″ barrel. But possessing that same exact rifle with a 15″ barrel is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.

As an illustration of how arbitrary that is, the well-meaning gun owner who recently went on Facebook and cut his gun in half unknowingly broke this law — his video shows him red-handed doing what the NFA describes as “illegally manufacturing a short-barreled rifle”. For the harmless act in that video, he can be jailed for 10 years. It’s only legal to cut your barrel below NFA length if you go through the $200 tax + 7-month wait process described in the silencer section above. Same process for all NFA items.

Contrary to popular belief, the barrel length law has nothing to do with dangerousness; the shorter the barrel on a rifle or shotgun, the less powerful and less accurate it is. The law is actually an interesting relic of how the NFA came to be. The first draft of the NFA included all handguns — in 1934 the $200 tax was equivalent to $3700 today, and it was designed to effectively ban all concealable weapons.

The bill’s writers added the barrel length rules to stop people from buying a rifle, cutting down the barrel and the stock to make it almost as short as a handgun, and then saying, “It’s a rifle, not a handgun.” There was only one problem: there was no political support to include handguns in the NFA. The law wouldn’t pass in that form. So the writers removed handguns from the NFA, but they never removed the barrel length rules that were only there to close the handgun loophole. That is why today a 16” barrel is fine while a 15” barrel is 10 years in federal prison.

This is a proposal to remove the barrel length rules from the NFA, moving those guns from Title II to Title I. Instead of putting them in the same category as grenade launchers, common sense dictates treating them like handguns (which are far more concealable) — available to adults who pass the NICS background check, denied to those who don’t.

3. Concealed carry permit reciprocity
Carry permit laws vary wildly from state to state. What’s perfectly legal in one state might be a felony just over the border. That’s how we get cases like that of Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Pennsylvania who was pulled over while driving in New Jersey. She was carrying a gun with her Pennsylvania permit, which New Jersey does not recognize. As a result, the New Jersey police arrested her and she was charged with a felony that carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence. Only a pardon from the governor saved her. Hundreds like her across the country aren’t lucky enough to get a pardon.

State-level and local-level carry laws can be so complicated, and interact in such unpredictable ways, that there are lawyers who base their entire practice on advising people on these issues. A narrowly-tailored reciprocity law will protect well-intentioned people from being accidentally ensnared by those laws as they travel out of their home state.

For everybody

1. Mass shootings are a media contagion. The press can help stop it with the same anti-copycat guidelines they already use for suicides.

Even amidst the fractal squabbling that poisons this whole debate, there is one idea that nearly everybody agrees on: mass shootings are a media contagion. There’s a large body of research on the subject, and it indicates that saturation media coverage of these horrors likely causes additional mass shootings.

Let’s begin with the evidence on suicide reporting, which is subject to similar contagion effcts. (All bold emphasis below is mine.)

This paper reports a field experiment concerning mass-media and suicide. After the implementation of the subway system in Vienna in 1978, it became increasingly acceptable as means to commit suicide, with the suicide rates showing a sharp increase. This and the fact that the mass-media reported about these events in a very dramatic way, lead to the formation of a study-group of the Austrian Association for Suicide Prevention (ÖVSKK), which developed media guidelines and launched a media campaign in mid-1987. Subsequently, the media reports changed markedly and the number of subway-suicides and -attempts dropped more than 80% from the first to the second half of 1987, remaining at a rather low level since.
Avoiding sensational coverage of suicides can prevent copycat suicides, a new federally endorsed guide for the media says. US Surgeon General David Satcher, along with academics and suicide experts today issued recommendations calling on the media not to give graphic details about suicides, and not to portray them as heroic or romantic or present them as inexplicable acts of healthy people.

Given those very compelling results, researchers have applied the same analytical techniques to the study of mass shootings.

If the mass media and social media enthusiasts make a pact to no longer share, reproduce, or re-tweet the names, faces, detailed histories, or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in the span of one to two years. Even conservatively, if the calculations of contagion modelers are correct, we should see at least a one third reduction in shootings if the contagion is removed. Given the profile of mass shooters, we believe levels of mass murder could return to a pre-1970s rate, where it becomes a truly aberrant event that although not eradicated, is no longer a common option that goes through the mind of every bullied, depressed, isolated, somewhat narcissistic man.

We need to be thinking ahead to the mass-shooters-in-waiting — the copycats who will use the Las Vegas murders as a template for their own horrific schemes. And we have good reason to believe that the more publicity the Las Vegas shooter garners, the greater the motivation of copycats to “dethrone” him with the next mass shooting. (The reader will note that I do not use the Las Vegas shooter’s name in this piece).

Findings indicate that the mass killers received approximately $75 million in media coverage value, and that for extended periods following their attacks they received more coverage than professional athletes and only slightly less than television and film stars. In addition, during their attack months, some mass killers received more highly valued coverage than some of the most famous American celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Jennifer Aniston. Finally, most mass killers received more coverage from newspapers and broadcast/cable news than the public interest they generated through online searches and Twitter seems to warrant. Unfortunately, this media attention constitutes free advertising for mass killers that may increase the likelihood of copycats.
Researchers at Arizona State University analyzed news reports of gun-related incidents from 1997 to 2013. They hypothesized that the rampages did not occur randomly over time but instead were clustered in patterns. The investigators applied a mathematical model and found that shootings that resulted in at least four deaths launched a period of contagion, marked by a heightened likelihood of more bloodshed, lasting an average of 13 days. Roughly 20 to 30 percent of all such violence took place in these windows.

What [Columbine killers’ names] are doing is laying out a script so precise that it makes it possible for kids with really really high thresholds to join in …. They’re making this particular “riot” more accessible.

[Name of a thwarted school shooter] is not a psychpath. He’s a nerd. And 40 years ago he’d be playing with his chemistry set in the basement and dreaming of being an astronaut. Because that was the available cultural narrative of that moment…. Now he’s dreaming of blowing up schools. He did not come up with that himself. He got it from the society of which he’s a part, and we’re responsible for that.

The perverse truth is that this senselessness is just the point of mass shootings: It is the means by which the perpetrator seeks to make us feel his hatred. Like terrorists, mass shooters can be seen, in a limited sense, as rational actors, who know that if they follow the right steps they will produce the desired effect in the public consciousness.

Part of this calculus of evil is competition. [Dr. Paul Mullen] spoke to a perpetrator who “gleefully admitted that he was ‘going for the record’”.

Aside from the wealth of qualitative evidence for imitation in massacre killings, there are also some hard numbers. A 1999 study by Dr. Mullen and others in the Archives of Suicide Research suggested that a 10-year outbreak of mass homicides had occurred in clusters rather than randomly. This effect was also found in a 2002 study by a group of German psychiatrists who examined 132 attempted rampage killings world-wide. There is a growing consensus among researchers that, whether or not the perpetrators are fully aware of it, they are following what has become a ready-made, free-floating template for young men to resolve their rage and express their sense of personal grandiosity.

My aim here is not to blame the media: such events have undeniable news value, and there is intense public interest in uncovering their details. But it’s important to recognize that such incidents are not mono-causal, and sensational news coverage is, increasingly, part of the mix of events that contributes to these rampages.

Playing right into the memetic contagion, CNN has been heavily promoting a “fact sheet” it made, which is literally a grotesque mass murder scoreboard. Fox News, the New York Times, Breitbart, MSNBC, take your pick, nearly every big news organization feeds this contagion.

All responsible press organizations should adopt the following set of guidelines by professor Adam Lankford, variations of which are echoed, according to a report from Vox, by the FBI, researchers at Texas State University, The I Love U Guys Foundation, and other groups across the country.

  1. Don’t name the perpetrator.
  2. Don’t use photos or likenesses of the perpetrator.
  3. Stop using the names, photos, or likenesses of past perpetrators.
  4. Report everything else about these crimes in as much detail as desired.
2. Penalize agencies that fail to update the NICS background check system

This is a simple one. A number of state and federal agencies are failing to consistently report prohibited possessors into the NICS background check system. That system won’t work properly if its records aren’t up-to-date, and Congress should fix these inconsistencies.

Your Action Plan

1. Contact the lobbying groups that you donate to

These groups follow their donors’ wishes. If they hear from you on a topic, they’ll think about it. If they hear from enough of you on a topic, they’ll act. Contact every gun-related group you donate to, and tell them to support America’s first honest path forward on guns. Commit to a specific dollar amount that you’ll donate once they endorse the path forward.

Here are a couple of the biggest groups on each side:

2. Blow up Twitter about this

Tweet tactically. Anybody can tweet @realDonaldTrump and call it a day, but that accomplishes nothing. You need the person you’re tweeting at to actually read what you wrote, and to share it with a lot of people.

Find your favorite medium-size Twitter accounts that talk about gun issues. The sweet spot is the 10,000-30,000 follower range. Enough followers that they have a powerful audience, but cozy enough that they’ll personally read your tweet. Engage with lots of those folks. If your tweets are worth reading, those medium-size accounts will quickly start replying and retweeting you. Then you’re off to the races.

3. Contact your House rep and your Senators

Tell them you’re done with the zero-sum scorched earth gun debate, and that you want a real path forward. Phone calls are much more effective than emails. Use to instantly find phone numbers for all of your members of Congress. Create a call script and share it on Twitter so that other people can use the most effective script when they call their reps.


  1. I recently read another paper that disputed the 13 day mass shooting idea. Have to find that. Otherwise, a lot of good ideas here.

    I abstained from the groovy march on Saturday. Too much heat, not enough light.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like this. Even as written, the ERPO can and will be abused. But that is a simple fact of human nature and laws. Child protection laws are also abused, but does that mean that we should get rid of all child protection laws? No, instead we work to tighten definitions and fix loopholes to minimize abuse while still providing the good the law seeks to attain. A good ERPO would fulfill this.

    My only hard objection is actually to national reciprocity, because I lean anti-federalist and prefer states rights. However, I can definitely see a well-defined strictly limited concealed reciprocity that would prevent things like the Allen incident while still leaving state’s rights intact. Maybe something like interstates, gas stations, and restaurants just off of interstates are reciprocal, while other places are not. Or maybe a modification of the federal firearm transport law that protects people just transporting a firearm through a state. I’m not sure how it would or should work. At minimum, there needs to be an easy way to tell if you can carry in a given state given your current license (or lack thereof). Either a federal database, or each state would be required to have an easily found webpage describing the limitations and reciprocity agreements in an easy-to-understand format.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agree with you on Federalism. I think the idea of universal reciprocity and constitutional carry are working at cross purposes. Some sort of common baseline would have to be established.

      CHL holders are not the problem, and I think it was Lott that skewered that straw man. But Federalism is a fact of life and I really doubt that any SCOTUS is going to assert that concealed carry is a Constitutional right. No historical basis. So some common ground among states would be good. With the polarization of vindictive states like New Jersey and Constitutional carry states, that’s tough to imagine.

      Currently, New Mexico honors 24 other states’ CHLs. I recently challenged folks in these parts to show me data indicating this expansive reciprocity put New Mexicans at risk. Crickets. Our bad guys are home grown and don’t have CHLs.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The best reciprocity suggestion I have seen is, you fall under the rules for carry in the state in which you are. Hell, make it the tightest (while still being carry for defensive purposes, not just transport) if there are gradients. The burden is then on the traveler to take the few minutes to look on any number of official and unofficial websites to figure out the rules where they are going. Ignorance of the law being no excuse.

        I agree on the illogic of some arguments against. “But, but, our police won’t know how to deal with lawful carriers.” My response is, of course, “Then train them. Somehow the cops in 40+ states have figured it out. Or is the claim that your cops are less competent than all those others?”

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ Matthew Carberry –
        You sound reasonable, however that is not nearly as easy as it sounds. To whit: in 2013 my wife and I took her mother on a 3 week driving tour of the southeast USA. Kansas to Florida, via just about every state south of the Ohio river. 21 states. I did that (and some states are easy, some states hide everything – so saying “a few minutes was more like the better part of a working day, no joke) . In order to carry with my Kansas CCL, and meet all of those different laws IS a burden… can you imagine trying to travel north and east from there – you can’t carry a weapon as an out of stater AT ALL in some of those states…
        No, humbly, you are looking at this backwards – A CCL should be treated as a drivers license (and yes, I’m very libertarian and don’t like federalism either) but saying that each state recognizes the laws of other states. (oh, and my state is a constitutional carry state, so I’ve already exceeded what I MUST do so that I can carry elsewhere if and as needed)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, but either is driving. Yet there is universal reciprocity on driver’s licenses. Difference?


      • Lance, Driving isn’t a right. And the current reciprocity is due to interstate compacts, no Federal involvement.

        Though it dos work just like carry reciprocity would, you have to be, a) legal to drive in your own state, and, b) follow the rules of the state you are in.

        Even though, say, New Jersey has idiotic “jug-handle” turns for lefts, I’m able to drive there but would get ticketed for making a normal left at the light as God and every sane traffic engineer designed.


    • SEOSAIDH – You misunerstand federalism in our republic. States can do what they want IF it is not reserved for the people, the Federal government or otherwise prohibited. The right to keep and bear arms is a very specific carve out in the Constitution. The citizens of the states realized the Constitution of 1789 lacked sufficient restrictions to prevent tyranny so they took the power to regulate arms away from the Federal Government and a bunch of other stuff in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately in less than 75 years tyranny of the states became an unbearable problem in the form of Black Codes and other forms of gun control. The solution was to pass the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

      States rights are just fine unless states are using it for slavery and gun control.

      Ah if it were only this simple! Damn you Antonin Scalia!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steve, interesting, the second amendment (like all amendments and the entire Constitution) originally only applied to the federal government, so states were free to do anything they wanted, up to and including completely banning guns. This only changed in either 2008 with Heller or 2010 with McDonald. The earliest incorporation of any part of the Bill of Rights against the states is 1897 with Quincy RR vs Chicago, or more commonly 1925 with Gitlow vs NY. Regardless, the 2nd wasn’t incorporated until this millenium.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Seosaidh,

        True, the Constitution’s 2A wasn’t incorporated against the states until McDonald, but the RKBA still existed as a fundamental right and applied to any government body who would infringe on it. That the states could violate that aspect of individual liberty, just as they did with slavery and a host of other evils, doesn’t mean they had the legitimate power nor authority to do so. They just had the ability.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Most states, Seosaidh, have a list of the states with which they have reciprocity, so you can see where your local permit is honored.

      While I believe in states rights, in my opinion, the only permit we should need is written in the 2nd Amendment. I am a supporter of permitless carry, usually refered to as “Constitutional Carry.” Once, it was called “Vermont Carry,” since Vermont has *never* required a permit to carry a firearm, open or concealed. If you can legally own it in Vermont, you can carry it. And Vermont has a very low crime rate, including crimes with guns. Eleven other states, at present, have a similar provision.

      I am an instructor for the New Mexico Concealed Handgun License and believe that people should get as much training as they can. But requiring a fee and red tape to exercise a Constitutional right turns that right into a government-granted privilege, in my view and that of many other 2nd Amendment advocates.

      We recognize driver’s licenses, marriage licenses and many other licenses across state lines. But a license that, in many ways, is redundant – giving a stamp of approval to the exercise of a Constitutional Right – is not. I do not think that’s right.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I got annoyed with yet one more letter suggesting we ban the world and got this published in the Fanta Se paper

    Rick Gonzales (“Jumping the gun,” Letters to the editor, March 19), suggests a host of regulations and prohibitions to be aimed at law-abiding gun owners in order to make our children safer, arguing that since some good people go bad, none of us can be trusted. I’ll take that a step further.

    Since the No. 1 cause of unintended deaths of children is car crashes, and since we cannot know which good driver will turn rogue (DWI, texting, inattention, speeding, other moving violations) in spite of licensing and mandatory insurance, perhaps we ought to ban the private ownership of the more lethal cars, as well.

    I suggest that no one be allowed to drive anything bigger than a Prius, that all cars be required to have soft bonnets and smart technology, and major parts of cities be no-car zones, as in many European nations. This way, when the good driver turns bad, he or she cannot do the damage that results in nearly 40,000 Americans lying dead on our streets each year.

    Dead is dead. If we are to be trusted with either cars or guns, there have to be higher, enforced standards of citizenship. Enough with the myopic focus on one tool alone.

    Khalil Spencer

    Santa Fe

    Liked by 3 people

  4. An excellent article sir. Shared on Facebook and asked folks to pass it on.

    I have one small problem with our side not being just as loud and continuance on calling the left on there spinning and cheery picking the facts and obfuscation there ultimate objective. There is a long understood political theory that if enough people tell a lie loud enough long enough it will become accepted as truth.

    Diane Fienstiene (you know who I mean can’t get the last name spelled) in a nationally televised interview said, around the time of the debate on the 1994-2004 AWB, she would have introduced legislation banning civilian ownership of all guns but she knew she did not have the votes. Then latter on, and I remember her doing this, she looked at the camera and said, “America, turn in your guns!”

    Can’t make it more plainer than that. That’s what the left always wants, all the power and keeping the peons down for there own good. The left is willfully ignorant of the fire they are playing with.

    Molon Labe!
    Keep your powder dry and your faith in God.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Can’t make it more[sic] plainer than that. That’s what the left always wants, all the power and keeping the peons down for there[sic] own good. The left is willfully ignorant of the fire they are playing with.”

      Having moved some 20 years ago from Germany, could you explain how the left is keeping peons down?

      And what “fire” are are you alluding to?


      • So you are saying you want to shoot your fellow Americans?

        You realize you make the point for disarming you and others like you?


      • You badly misrepresented what he said. Agree or not, he is simply stating that _if_ a gun confiscation is attempted, which he and millions of Americans would view as an assault on the Constitution and rule of law, that it could spark a revolution.

        There was no, _want_ implied. Merely a warning.

        Part of the reason it is difficult to talk about gun rights and controls is not taking comments for their plain meaning and imputing evil motives to the speakers.

        Liked by 3 people

      • “… not taking comments for their plain meaning and imputing evil motives to the speakers.“

        I “badly misrepresented” the connotation of his to partake in a civil war???

        Playing semantics doesn’t work here as everybody gets what is being implied: take my guns and I’ll start a “revolution”, 2A vs gun-control, American vs American. You know, they call that a civil war.


      • “…take my guns and I’ll start a “revolution”, 2A vs gun-control, American vs American. You know, they call that a civil war.”

        Yes, they do call it a civil war when part of a country seeks to overthrow the Constitutional order and attempts to forcibly deprive their innocent fellow citizens of their rights arbitrarily. Given, based on all of the extant evidence, such deprivations would only impact innocent, law-abiding people with no increase in public safety.

        Which is why, if people oppose the 2A, they should follow Constitutional procedures to amend or repeal it, not try to subvert it in such a way they know will necessarily violate _other_ Constitutional provisions.

        If you feel you have popular support on your side, go for it, start a movement to amend or repeal. Try to do it by force extra-Constitutionally and the war will be on your conscience.


  5. “each side is trying to destroy the other” Is that right Dave?
    If we wanted to destroy them, they’d be dead. They would happily destroy us, say so every day, as long as they can get someone else to do it for them.
    cuck a doodle do

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Though the NICs modification is good, I have a problem, based on all the extant evidence much less basic reasoning, with conceding even the idea that expanding background checks can have any noticeable, or meaningful, and certainly not statistically significant, impact.

    Essentially uniformly, the people who use guns in criminal ways either can (or did) pass any background check proposed, or, if prohibited, got it from someone aware of their prohibited status who would bother to do a background check even if required.

    The subset of “purchases from unaware sellers” cannot be shown to be of any real size, and is easily circumvented by anyone.

    Further, there is simply no way to detect that a background check was not performed, much less prove it in court, unless the physical transfer involved a law enforcement sting, or, occurred in front of an LEO. Even if detected, if neither party is a prohibited possessor, all that occurred is a mala prohibita crime. If one or both are prohibited, the underlying Federal offense is sufficient to charge the prohibited person and investigate the “knowing” status of the other. It’s an unenforceable law in practice with absolutely no added utility. All it does is waste time and money and potentially put innocent people in jail for paperwork violations with zero societal harm.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When we had a background check discussion a couple years ago in New Mexico, my recommendation was to make it so easy that any reasonable gun owner would want to do it before selling a gun to someone he or she did not know well. We would leave out transfers between people who knew each other or family members, etc. Since barring registration, background checks are voluntary (short of being caught in a sting), one wants to make them something done for the common good, not because some S.O.B. gun grabber is forcing it on you.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh, I agree. My problem is one of framing, if that is the right word. Or maybe just intellectual honesty, I don’t know. We can do it for form’s sake, or to enable perfect confidence in the mind of a law-abiding seller, but we need to not pretend to believe it will actually accomplish anything. If we know it can’t work, and why, then we will be less tempted to try to “do it harder” to still fail.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. We can have no reasonable discussion without knowing the facts. And the facts are that crime of every description has fallen by nearly half in the last 25 years. Hundreds of millions of guns have been sold and crime has cratered. No one has any possible reason to restrict my right to keep and bear arms when there is no evidence that there is actually a problem. We cannot possibly “compromise” with liars.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. “The columnist David French wrote an excellent outline of what a good ERPO law looks like:”

    The one thing French’s list lacks is an explicit, stated penalty to punish those who make knowingly or negligently false reports. There should be no “oops” allowed, if you apply for an order that impacts a fundamental right without subjectively and objectively reasonable evidence, not just “feelings” or hearsay.

    Will it have a chilling effect? Maybe, but in the actual incidents to date we haven’t seen a lot of “edge cases,” while we have seen normal orders of protection and such with their lower evidentiary standards used as malicious or “just in case” weapons in other domestic situations.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. For the most part I find nothing to which I object except the banning of bump-fire stocks. These are a novelty and have been used – allegedly – in just one shooting, the one in Las Vagas, which is still under investigation and which has left a lot of questions for many of us. My problem with banning them is that I see it as opening a door to ban other devices than might also increase the rate of fire, including better than MilSpec triggers and, oh, yeah, practice.

    After fifty years in the 2nd Amendment advocacy camp, I am tired of making compromises, which to the Disarmist Left means we give, they take and we get *nothing* in return. Many of the trade-offs mentioned could work, but I do not see the doctrinaire liberals going for them. Their goal, stated often enough in private and more recently out loud is to totally disarm the American populace.

    Someone will have to make the opening gambit and we have tried for years to just talk. They do not want to talk. They do not want a discussion, they want to shout. They want to march. They want to have an emotional fit. And the spokesman for the youth, David Hogg, has lied about where he as on the day of the Parkland shooting. On video, to the media. So, can we talk to people who lie about their credentials? I think not.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. One thing I would like to see is a movement on gun owner’s part to reach out and offer free gun safety training to anyone joining the gun fraternity. Last year I tried to sign up for my own club’s range safety officer training but it was booked immediately. But a scaled-down version of the New Mexico CHL class, which Jamie is probably familiar with, would be a good start. Somewhat similiar to the League Cycling Instructor class the LAB offers new and returning bicyclists, or the industry sponsored MSF class offered to new and returning motorcyclists.

    This is obviously a loaded issue, so to speak, but getting away from the pounding the shoe on the table and showing we are trying to solve some of the ineptitude problems (kids getting into the gun case and blowing each other’s head off, mishandling, fear of guns, etc) would help and could get some positive PR. Our state has about 500 CHL instructors. The state should indemnify them against lawsuits and encourage them to get out there and teach the public. Hell, when I retire, I might do just that if there was a way to do it without being exposed to SLAPP suits by the gun grabbers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kahl, I have offered to take anyone who is interested to the range, only asking that they pay for the ammo they use, with me supplying guns and hearing protection.

      As for SLAPP suits, they are regulated here in New Mexico and must meet some pretty stringent requirements to go forward. And, I’m not sure how they would be used against those who train new shooters. As for the sate indemnifying instructors, I{m not sure how – or if – they would fo that.

      I am all for training, the more the better. But I have an issue with making it a prerequisite for exercising a fundamental right. New Mexico requires a good deal more training to qualify for a concealed handgun license than many states – fifteen hours plus range time with 25 rounds fired for qualification with the type and calilber of firearms you want on your license. We recommend that people get more training, as well and practice as often as possible. I try to shoot weekly with range ammo and once a month with the ammo I carry.

      If you are down in Albuquerque on a Wednesday and have the time, we meet at the Denny’s on University and Gibson for breakfast around 0900 and then off to the range at 1130 for an hour or so of shooting, You’d be welcome to join us if you’d like.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The comments here clearly show that the authors claim,
    “I’ve talked to dozens of people about this in person, and hundreds online. They ranged from people who would literally join a civil war against gun control, to people who want a flat-out ban on gun ownership, to people at every point in between. Almost every last one of them said they’d support this proposal in a heartbeat”
    is clearly false, just like the claim the left doesn’t want to take away our guns is false. There is a reason there can be no compromise, the anti-gun side is willing to lie, cheat, and obfuscate to get their way. You cannot compromise with someone who refuses to acknowledge the truth!
    I have a compromise, the 2nd Amendment is clear! All gun laws should be repealed until the 2nd Amendment is repealed!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a wonderful idea. I agree with the concepts completely as reasonable.

    HOWEVER: I have one huge problem with it – not with the concept, but with how our Imperial Federal Government acts and has been shown to act repeatedly when it comes to data it collects. How do we ensure that the Feds do what they are legally obligated to do and not keep hold of those records for people wanting to buy a firearm?

    I’m sorry to have to point out how many times the Feds have done exactly the opposite, even in direct violation of the law, regarding data collection of the very citizens it’s supposed to be serving.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What astounds me is the almost complete avoidance of the first part of our 2nd Amendment by media, NRA, gun controllers, politicians, attorneys, everyone, which prefaces the reason for our gun rights not being “abridged”: “…a well-regulated militia, necessary for a free state, …” ! The term “militia” – completely understood and accepted when they wrote the Amendment – has nowadays been given a negative connotation by media and culture simply due partly because the militias we hear about are NOT constitutionally authorized. The intent was – and is – that small groups of folks across all the state form a militia AND then submit a charter to their state government requesting state authorization & recognition, subject to training, regular meetings and transparency. In the event of “insurrection, rebellions, invasions”, etc. militias would then be called up and commanded ultimately by – guess who? – the Commander-in-Chief. No national guard, no domestic police state, but all of us organized, self-supported, trained and LEGITIMATELY chartered in each state. The idea is that only citizens at the local level know their situations. (And why troops can be quartered at home in need.) Can you imagine millions of citizens being organized this way? I guarantee you the “fear & respect” factor – as well as the political force – would be reversed and our country restored in many other ways. So it’s not just about keeping guns or gun rights. It’s much bigger than that. Hell, some in a particular militia may be anti-gun but essential to local support for medical or other resource support. Everyone welcomed regardless of race, politics, gender, etc. etc. based on whatever the local dynamics are whether California or Wyoming! Just my 2-cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There *are* chartered militias in some states. Before the founder and colonel of the NM Militia passed away and the group went dormant, they had a charter. I don’t know if it is still in effect or if it would need to be re-instated.

      The comments on the militia in the time of our founding are mostly true, but there were basically *two* levels of militia. One was as you describe, but the other was just a group of local folk, banded together for the common defense. It consisted of men from 18 through 55 – and that would need to be modified, since we must include women and cutting it off at 55 would be seen as ageist.This was the “unorganized” militia. They were “well regulated” in the sense that after church on Sunday, they’d practice with their firearms, a collection of rifles, shotguns and muskets, the latter often a legacy of prior service as enrolled milita. The tradition of the “turkey shoot” stems from those gatherings, giving the men something to compete for beyond bragging rights.

      I frankly doubt if most states would charter a militia over which they did not exercise complete control, which sort of defeats the purpose of the milita as a check on government tyranny.

      The other problem is that getting all the disparate groups of people who would form a militia on the same page is not easy. Herding cats gives you some idea, but it is often even harder than that. Trying to get all the various local, state and national 2nd Amendment advocacy groups to act in concert, even when our rights are at stake, is proving to be a major cat-herding exercise. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Editing observation: Point #2 under “For The Gun Control Side” has been transposed to come under the passage about mass-shooting media contagion.
    Beyond that: Some very interesting propositions being put forward. Following.


      • I’m unconvinced on the potential. Most fatal DV incidents aren’t truly “spontaneous” acts. They occur as the final act of ongoing escalating violence, and anyone who would seek one could also seek a standard restraining order or arrest with judge-ordered seizure in the same amount of time with similar ex parte requirements.

        An actual arrest would be the only really useful part, moreso if the abuser doesn’t get bail and is actually physically confined and thus incapacitated giving time for the victim to get out of the area (not to known family or friends, just making them targets). Not that any of the above actually guarantee disarming the attacker, nor do domestic violence homicides require any weapons at all.


      • ERPOs are something I’ve been wrestling with for a while. I saw something on AWR that went into detail over domestic violence, and I think it addressed something like that.


      • “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” are a carefully crafted lie. You can almost hear them saying to themselves…

        “Hey, let’s declare that this person is an immediate and present danger to himself or others, which is the standard for a mental health commitment, but instead of hauling the guy off to the looney bin, let’s just take away whatever guns we think he has and then toss him back on the streets where he can steal another gun, buy one from Ice Dog and Ray Ray down on Dot Ave in Southie, or just buy a gallon of gas and a lighter like the lunatic from the Happy Land Fire!”

        Since no one who has thought this thing through as much as the people who proposed it could possibly think that it was a plausible way to prevent domestic violence, I can only conclude that they’re just looking for a way to annoy and harrass gun owners.


      • Here’s a point you need to think about. AWR has zero studies contradicting their list of negatives and focuses almost uniformly and uncritically on a small group of public health researchers. Though each article and study needs to be judged on its merits, that is inherently not a “balanced” source. Any study you read from there, or anywhere, search for critiques of it as well.

        Prof Yamane is a good resource when he looks at various competing claims in that he is searching for truth and tries to avoid inherent biases (like mine) and he has the statistical background (which I don’t) to cut through mathematical and structural analysis errors in addition to methodological flaws. provides a quick balancing resource which has a more criminological research and data focus. Bear in mind that when it comes to guns “public health” has uniformly started from a perspective that the object is somehow a vector, while criminology starts with human behavior. The former tends to ignore the latter and over-generalizes the individuals involved. Similar to what Greg Camp brought up on twitter with you.


      • +Matthew Carberry

        I remember coming across the guy who started on Quora, and I checked it out, saw that they promoted Lott’s work and the Kleck/Gertz study, and thought to myself “probably won’t be anything different here,” so I’ve never found the critiques. Now I’m gonna immerse myself there.


      • The important thing to note about critiques of Lott, in particular, and Kleck and many other criminology-based researchers in general, are how many actually challenge the data and the analysis on a point-by-point factual basis as opposed to attacking the authors personally (often as “paid shills,” though many are self-funded as opposed to receiving Joyce grants). Making broad claims of faults based on reassertion’s of public health premises as opposed to real analysis of the data as presented is not “countering” anything.

        One thing about Kleck/Gertz in particular is many of the attacks misstate the actual survey’s claims/findings and ignore that it was repeated a dozen times by different groups of people over several years and got a range of responses that were still roughly consistent. It wasn’t a one-off vanity project, and Kleck is hardly a “paid shill” of anyone.


      • In any case, I don’t believe that we NEED the Kleck/Gertz study or any of Lott’s work in order to make a case for guns. That can be done quite well with other, far less controversial work.


      • Remmi, Don’t fall into the narrative trap. We don’t “need” to make a case _for_ guns at all, we are starting with a fundamental right.

        Those who would restrict the exercise of any right have the intellectual, philosophical, and moral burden of demonstrating a particular restriction is necessary to solve a particular “cost” of the free exercise of that right, to a degree even approaching justifying an infringement. They then have to demonstrate (prove) that a given proposed restriction can, in practice in reality as it is, not theory, be assured to work to such a degree as to address that cost.

        The default is liberty, they are required to make the affirmative case of need _and_ the affirmative case of efficacy. At best all we need to show is that one or the other case as presented does not meet the standards required to infringe to a degree as to justify the loss of freedom.

        Liked by 1 person

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