Mark Dery on America's toy gun culture

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140 Responses to “Mark Dery on America's toy gun culture”

  1. CSMcDonald says:

    Wait, how about violent rap lyrics? Or heavy metal music? When do we start seeing reports on BB that the PMRC was right?

  2. Lester says:

    As a child, I was coerced into joining a militant ultra-patriotic organization where I was forced to attend a remote training camp where I was told I must fire a .22 rifle in order to earn decorative rewards. Finally, when I was 11, I was able to convince my dad that I should quit using two reasons: 1) I’m sick of tying knots and 2) he won’t have to drive me to the Episcopal church one evening a week.

    Now, as an adult, I wish I could tie better knots.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      You should stick the words “homophobic” and “theists” in that description somewhere. Your second argument was probably the winner.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It always bothers me when people talk about what things are like in the US, and whether something can be changed or it is inevitable, without comparing to the rest of the world. Not everyone has the same gun culture the US does. Do they have the same attitudes to toy guns?

  4. travtastic says:

    Actually, everyone is wrong:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun

    A gun is a crew-served cannon, mounted onto a sea-going vessel. Noobs.

  5. Mister44 says:

    It is clear that these ultra-violent, and ultra realistic video games are to blame.

    Did you know 45% of 16 year old boys surveyed knew how to break down and clean a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range?

  6. Stonewalker says:

    my previous comment shoudl have said :

    “I agree, it is intensely interesting how little boys (and *some* girls).

    Boys generally speaking are more interested in weapons than girls at a young age.

  7. Chinese Jet Pilot says:

    Toy guns have been supplanted by video games today, but boys will always play with guns.

  8. surrealestate says:

    Most military arms are actually less effective than hunting rifles, with lower muzzle velocities, and bullets that are designed to tumble once they hit flesh; wounding the enemy places a much larger strain on the opposing force than killing them.

    My sniff test for anti-gun talk is to replace ‘gun’ with ‘rap music’, and ‘automatic weapons” with ‘Mass Media’. The Founding Fathers never envisioned having the ability to simultaneously broadcast information (or poorly thought-out option) across the country either, but that doesn’t mean we should re-think the First Amendment.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      “My sniff test for anti-gun talk is to replace ‘gun’ with ‘rap music’, and ‘automatic weapons” with ‘Mass Media’. ”

      What idiootic non-sense!

      “Hate speech” ought indeed to be banned, as it has been in Canada and Europe: and anyhow, that is beside the poitn.
      Rap music or mass media, has never killed anybody.

      Or by accident, as guns often do:

      http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/Girl_Boy_Shot_at_LA_School_Making_Progress_114287879.html

      Easy access and the right to bear hadndguns has enhanced nobody’s freedoms or liberties, except that of those who wield and would use those weapons.

      Prescisely the wrong people to have in control of others, IMHO – and that arrangement tends to give new and additional strength to the “right makes right” crowd too: they implicitly agree and argue that she with the biggest gun and fastest draw makes the rules now, and that is as it should be.

      If you try to take their handguns away, they will, shoot you, and they are proud of their threats…just watch how “law-abiding” these gun types become when you ask them to register their guns, never mind trying to dis-arm them.

      Melt the damned guns:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJDUpXq0gQg

      Stop basing public policy on violent adolescent fantasy, and open your eyes to the ever-renewing violence pain and suffering that guns bring into American life.

      • rhinoman says:

        Well, just to be conversational….

        You can preach this to an aunt of mine who lives in rural Texas, about 45 minutes from the sheriff. Who protects her when her husband is on the road? Maybe there aren’t any criminals in Canada, but there are in the USA.

        Or you could move to Camden, NJ, where they’ve just cut the police force in half. There’s an old joke: call for a pizza and a policeman, see who gets there first. It’s not the fault of the police, but there it is.

        The guys with the biggest guns always make the rules. It’s an institution called “The Government”. Let me assure you, they not only have the most guns, they are legally allowed to use them.

        Plus, in the USA, we have outlawed liquor, prostitution, marijuana, cocaine, XTC, heroin, crack cocaine, magic mushrooms, et cetera, in order to prevent access. Doesn’t work so well, in fact the opposite happens: it becomes more available. The only real effect is to bring the quality down. And create another funding stream for organized crime.

        Also, as far as hate speech is concerned, we have the pesky belief in freedom of speech, or more appropriately freedom of thought. You want to be a Nazi? Knock yourself out. If you don’t want to hear what someone says, don’t listen.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Chicken and egg: your rural aunt needs guns, because everybody else has ‘em.

          And people on farms and out in the countryside need long-guns for varmints and such: I’m talking hand-guns.

          Funny how pretty well every other country in the world but America gets along just fine – maybe even better, eh? – without their urban populations being armed with handguns. And without them being subject to living in great (and rational) fear which arises as a direct and predictable result of that handgun policy – for policy it is: it is a choice, consciously-made or not, by your leaders, which serves to keep Americans fearful of each other, of their own Government, and of the world.

          It sucks to live in fear – the pursuit of happiness as a goal of social organization is now completely forgotten, and replaced by the desire for security (from being shot by some random guy with a gun).

          Giving everyone handguns won’t make it better – it makes it worse.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          “The guys with the biggest guns always make the rules. It’s an institution called “The Government”. Let me assure you, they not only have the most guns, they are legally allowed to use them.”

          If that is true – that the guys with the biggest guns make the rules – then your argument that people be armed is reduced to a call to subvert the elected Government.

          If that is true – that the guys with the biggest guns make the rules, and that is always the Government – then what is the point of an armed citizenry, other than to prolong an undeclared and unspoken civil war against your own Government?

          To go about armed in the midst of peace remains the height of barbarity, savagery, and cowardice.

      • Mister44 says:

        re: “Rap music or mass media, has never killed anybody.
        Or by accident, as guns often do:”

        When it comes to accidental deaths, there are other far more dangerous and likely killers than firearms, including:

        Suffocation
        Fire
        Drowning
        Poisons
        Falls
        And of course – Motor Vehicles.
        In some figures I have seen, accidental death during surgery is also greater than accidental firearm deaths.

        Source: http://www.soyouwanna.com/soyouwanna-top-ten-causes-accidental-death-america-4008-full.html

        Not sure where they got their numbers – but it echos the CDC reports – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/acc-inj.htm

        A responsible gun owner is expected to have their guns under lock and key, while your Draino might have a child lock to the cabinet under the sink. Considering the greater likelihood of death, shouldn’t they be in a safe as well? Why are we not calling for a ban for the dangerous, and wasteful private pool? You are 100x more likely to drown in a house with a pool, than you are to be shot at a gun with a house.

        Source: http://freakonomicsbook.com/freakonomics/chapter-excerpts/chapter-5/ (This whole book is awesome)

        re:”Easy access and the right to bear handguns has enhanced nobody’s freedoms or liberties, except that of those who wield and would use those weapons.”

        Not so! Brandishing and defensive use of guns saves lives and end crime. Furthermore, you can enjoy lower crime rates, even with out owning a firearm and vice versa.

        In the UK violent crime is on the rise, and getting worse. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7400372/True-scale-of-violent-crime-rise-revealed.html. They are starting to take measures on controlling knives. When 3 guys with melee weapons want to do you harm, what recourse do you have? I guess hope you can run faster than them.

      • Stonewalker says:

        “Rap music or mass media, has never killed anybody.”

        I would like to point out that free speech has indeed killed many millions of people. How do you think dangerous ideas spread in the first place? Every cult, every blood feud, every dictatorship, every rebellion, hell, every WAR was started because somebody was allowed to or able to share their dangerous ideas.

        That’s the the about the Bill of Rights – without it, the government could interfere a lot quicker and keep us ‘safer’. Thank god for the USA PATRIOT act eh?

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          “I would like to point out that free speech has indeed killed many millions of people.”

          sticks and stones may break my bones but words shall never hurt me

          a child’s saying in all its wisdom

          • Mister44 says:

            re:””I would like to point out that free speech has indeed killed many millions of people.”
            sticks and stones may break my bones but words shall never hurt me
            a child’s saying in all its wisdom”

            Are you for real? Of just like to play ‘devil’s advocate’? If you don’t think people have been rallied to murder and genocide, then you need to read more.

            re: “Chicken and egg: your rural aunt needs guns, because everybody else has ‘em.”

            What is his aunt going to do with 3 guys and bats? Or hell – just fists.

            re: “Hate speech ought indeed to be outlawed”

            That is all well and good – except – who decides what is hate speech? Some of it like the WBC is pretty clear. But what if criticism of the president or the Queen or the gov. becomes hate speech. I’m sorry, not if, but when.

            We already have enough laws in place to cripple our civil liberties should a malevolent government choose to utilize them.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          “…able to share their dangerous ideas.”

          It seems that you think the problem consists of people being at liberty to share their ideas: rather than the actual use – or incitement, or advocacy – of physical violence.

          Hate speech ought indeed to be outlawed, and in the most enlightened parts of the globe, IS – at least from the publicly-owned Radio & TV airwaves.

  9. Ugly Canuck says:

    Well I suppose that I ought to provide some info more directly on-topic.

    Here’s some…

    “… guidelines for responding to your son’s fascination with guns while encouraging nonviolence:

    1. Set parameters for the play. When we forbid a form of play, that play often goes underground and we lose an opportunity to help our children figure out answers to their questions. Make it clear to children that any play which intimidates, hurts or frightens another child is unacceptable. Then clarify the rules about guns at your house: “In our family, you are not allowed to point guns at any people or pets without their permission.” Or, “I want you to keep your gun play outside.”

    2. Provide props for play that have multiple uses. Giving children open-ended props encourages flexibility and creativity. When a child makes a gun out of plastic blocks, ten minutes later, those plastic blocks can be transformed into a container ship. However, when children play with highly realistic guns, those guns can only shoot and kill.

    3. Make your values clear. Children care deeply about how we see the world. Share your perspective with your son, “When I see you playing with guns, it really upsets me because people can be hurt by real guns.”

    4. Help children deal with their fears. Often gun play increases when children are feeling fearful. Children look for symbols of power (such as guns and swords) to help them feel more secure. Helping children deal with their fears can take some of the intensity out of their gun play.

    5. Let your kids know that people are working to stop violence in the real world. Kids sometimes use gun play to cope with fears about violence in the real world. If your child seems scared of real violence, talk about people who are working to stop fighting and end war. This can help kids feel safer and therefore, less driven to engage in gun play.

    6. Provide kids with alternatives to gun play that help them feel powerful. Four- and five-year-olds love to be competent. Providing them with real work experiences such as carpentry, cooking and gardening can channel some of the energy being directed into gun play in a new, more creative direction (Davis and Keyser, 1997, p. 339). ”

    From:

    http://www.saskschools.ca/~psychportal/Psych30/topics/socializationandplay.htm

  10. chip says:

    If gun culture drives people to go on shooting sprees, and America is saturated in gun culture, then how come actual shooting sprees are so rare? As the writer points out, there are about 85 guns for every 100 Americans – yet we average about what, one mass shooting tragedy a year? If there were an actual causal relationship between gun ownership (worship?) and gun violence, then we should be seeing shootings like this on a weekly basis in the gun-loving south.

    As others have pointed out, blaming gun culture for gun violence is like blaming D&D culture for ritual human sacrifice. Sure, every once in a while some guy turns up with a freezer full of human heads who happened to be big into RPGs, but 99.9999% of D&D players are just having a good time. Same goes for gun “nuts”. The overwhelming majority are exceptionally responsible and would never do anything like what happened in AZ a couple weeks ago.

    Crazy people will be crazy. This guy happened to be into guns, so his psychosis manifested itself as a shooting spree. If he’s been a big Twilight fan, he might have gone around biting people and draining their blood. If he was big into Donkey Kong, he might have thrown flaming barrels from the top of scaffolding at passers-by. That wouldn’t have meant that trashy vampire books or classic arcade games caused the tragedy – merely that an unstable individual with an insufficient support system went completely off the deep end.

  11. jdk998 says:

    What is interesting about the fallout from the Tucson shooting is the relevance of concealed carry. There was a man at the store who was carrying concealed. From the news reports, he heard the shots and ran to the location. He decided not to draw his pistol and engage because:

    1. He did not know if the person Golding the gun was the shooter. (It was not, it was the person who disarmed Laughner.)
    2. He did not want to shoot into a crowd of people.
    3. He did not want then police to think he was the shooter and get shot himself.

    Sorry about the off topic post.

  12. Ugly Canuck says:

    Too damned early, pre-coffee…”might makes right”, in the above. Too busy to correct the other typos. The point stands, and I’ll state it again.

    Easy access to handguns plays, or has, no role in enhancing either the liberties or the happiness of modern people, and in fact serves to undermine them, and to render the effects of intra-personal conflict more grievous, and more difficult to recover from.

    The easy access to and availability of handguns, combined with Americans’ contempt for, and impatience and distrust of, all public authority, has RUINED America as a place to live a happy and carefree modern life.

  13. kmoser says:

    I grew up in a non-gun area and yet as a young kid I was fascinated with them. As I got older (teens) the fascination waned. I credit my environment and upbringing. Yes, guns are dangerous and should be regulated, but you can’t blame a gun for somebody’s desire to do harm.

  14. Ugly Canuck says:

    In fact, if you lost the handguns, the impatience of authority which most Americans display would be a very good trait , IMHO.

    But that trait quickly becomes pernicious to the public safety (not to mention the state of the public purse, as police forces are forced to engage in an arms race with their own citizenry) where every person wields concealed instruments of deadly force, of easy and quick use.

    Melt the guns.

  15. Ugly Canuck says:

    Can it be that Americans need guns because they lack faith in themselves?

  16. Roscoe says:

    I’m just always happy to see Negativland referenced!

    It’s a valid argument on both sides – guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Yet, I do see a possible alternative reality where guns are not such a focus of playtime — but with the Military-Industrial complex stranglehold on all of the world’s humanitarian progress, we have very few role models to the contrary of “those with the big stick”

  17. penguinchris says:

    I’m disappointed this turned into a standard guns vs. no-guns argument. Can’t we focus on the point of the post, which is toy guns? To me that’s much more fascinating.

    I mean, just why is it that we (males anyway) are so attracted to guns and other weaponry, even at a very young age? Sure, we associate the coolness of James Bond et al. with guns, which makes guns cool (like… smoking in movies? ;)

    But, just take a look at a Walther pistol like Bond carries… it just plain looks cool. A fascinating device… small, mechanical, intricate and precise yet dead simple, and great industrial design. I mean, most are designed with function over form in mind, yet they still look as well-designed as a Macbook Pro (or whatever other well-designed thing you like). Maybe a Thinkpad is a better comparison.

    For what it’s worth I’ve never fired a real weapon, and have only handled one briefly (during a demonstration from a DEA agent, who passed his M4 around). I was into target shooting with a pellet gun for a while in high school, but lost interest. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a real one (it’d be a pistol), but I don’t have any money (recently out of school and can’t find a job these days) and I’m not sure I would ever really use it, and I’m over the stage of buying things just to have them – if I buy something it’s got to be something I know I’ll use a lot.

    But, I still think guns are fascinating!

    • Stonewalker says:

      Sorry Pengion, people stopped commenting on TFA so I did as well.

      I agree, it is intensely interesting how little boys (and girls) will go out of their way to make weapons out of anything, more often than not the weapon is a gun.

      I read an article awhile ago about violent video games and why they tend to sell better than non-violent games. Fighting and violence is important in play. Many animals play fight. It’s about learning your world, testing your limits and learning social functions. It’s something that is hard-wired in us. We must play as children and we must fight while we play.

      Perhaps kids already see guns at very young ages, and they have an understanding that they are powerful weapons, more powerful than sticks, swords or knives. Perhaps kids in the bronze age made swords out of everything before they learned the real deadliness of a weapon as well?

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Powerless children want power, and the use of weapons gives apparent power.

      But they always need an example or depiction: guns are a recent invention in the history of mankind.

      People see guns in the media: for kids (and sadly not only children) , it’s “monkey see, monkey do”.

      • rhinoman says:

        Ugly Canuck,
        I’m curious how old you are. It’s been at least twenty years since I had all the answers.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Old enough and sad enough not to be afraid to express my honest opinion.

          The guns are useless to liberty, and pernicious to public health and safety.

          Like the low-tax crowd or the attack-all–bad-nations crowd, the gun right sacrifices actual existing human happiness on the altar of their half-baked political theories.

          And then they treat their blindness to the facts as some kind of laudable or beneficial “faith” or virtue, rather than the willfully ignorant stupidity that it is.

          You ( and everybody else reading this) ought to go volunteer in your local chronic-care medical facility to help those in your community who have actually paid the price for your Society’s insistence on arming everybody who desires to be.

          A song for those blind to the facts:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHVzfdnd_lE

        • travtastic says:

          You are most wise, Rinpoche.

    • rhinoman says:

      As far as toy guns, I have known an awful lot of parents who observed the same things I have: Boys like weapons. Toy guns, toy swords, sticks, rocks, whatever. Yes, the plural of Anecdote is not Data, but I really wonder if there’s something “baked-in” here. Boys are, after all, different than girls. Anybody know of any good studies on this sort of thing?

  18. travtastic says:

    I really hate reloading at the range, so I always use my linkless feed minigun.

    And it’s good to get all that shooting over with so quickly, since I’m too busy to slip some bullets into a spare mag. So annoying!

    • Ernunnos says:

      Heh. Belt fed rifles are a lot of fun, and even legal in California. And yes, loading magazines is a time-consuming pain in the ass, and addressing that issue has created a whole market of gadgets. Range time is usually charged by the hour, and where I’m from, it’s a popular enough past time that there is often a wait. The less time you spend loading and reloading, the sooner someone else gets a chance to shoot.

      • travtastic says:

        They do sell spare magazines.

        And having loaded plenty of them before, it’s really not that time-consuming, unless you’re bringing a handloading press and bags of powder to the range with you.

        Now my question is, how many extended magazines do you own, and how many rounds do you use up at the range? Do you bring a backpack full of spares to last an hour?

        Because if you don’t, then you’re going to be putting new rounds in them. And how long is it going to take put 30 rounds into an extended magazine? About twice as long as it takes to put them into a 15-round. The only time you save is the time it takes you to slip it out of the gun and move to one side.

  19. rhinoman says:

    When I was a kid (1960s), everyone played with toy guns – toy rifles, toy tommy guns, cap guns, BB guns, you name it. Knives, too, but real ones. We even took them to school. I don’t remember teenagers of our generation going on shooting rampages.

    With Loughner’s generation, though, guns were EVIL and kids, by and large, never played with toy weapons.

    Admittedly, it’s anecdotal, but it seems to constitute a negative correlation.

    Plus, unless I’m mistaken, these mass shootings happen in England. How does one explain that?

  20. Griefer says:

    I was a knee-jerk liberal around the time that my wife gave birth to our first son (we had one girl at that point). We made the decision to not allow violent toys into out home. We also didn’t allow TV.

    We realized the foolishness of this quickly, however, when our 4 year old son began transforming food stuffs and even his sisters one Barbie doll into a weapon. When I asked who he was shooting, he replied, “the bad monster”.

    Now that I’ve grown up a little too, I’ve come to understand that an innate understanding and right and wrong, good vs evil, is a healthy thing for a kid to have.

    And now that my kids are grown up (son is a Marine and a software engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) we go target shooting together all the time. It’s a lot of fun.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe he turned out all-right because you were a knee-jerk liberal and raised him the way you described? Sounds like you were/are involved.

    • RedShirt77 says:

      >Now that I’ve grown up a little too, I’ve come to understand that an innate understanding and right and wrong, good vs evil, is a healthy thing for a kid to have.

      Exactly, and how do they get that? Through exploration done during Play.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I witnessed the neighbor kids with parents too poor to buy a toy gun (and almost any other toy) pick up branches (or climb the tree to break ‘em off) break them down to a reasonable shape of a gun and then go heavy on the action playing “cops and robbers”. Ban the trees I say!

    And yes after seeing the kids playing cops and robbers regularly for a few weeks I bought them some of those wooden rubber band toy guns along with other toys on various occasions. Fun stuff!

    One more thing, usually before the game started there was a few minutes debate about who was going to play what role and being the cops was usually the desired role… So wait, isn’t it guns that make them want to grow up to be criminals? Go figure…

  22. RedShirt77 says:

    I like a bunch of the context but don’t get why the toy gun is in the middle of all this. Somehow, boing boing has seen fit to post stories micking how silly it is to blame video games and Dungeons and dragons for this same sort of thing, but a plastic cap gun is a valid scapegoat?

    Admittedly there is a cultural romanticising of the gun death in this country, but I think the toy gun is a product of that, not the cause.

    See also; Correlation does not mean causation.

  23. Mister44 says:

    Actually, I DO have a shirt that says: “Computer games don’t affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.”

  24. superflippy says:

    We decided to let our boys play with toy weapons, but make them follow some ground rules: no shooting anything alive (e.g. pets, people), don’t actually hurt anyone when you’re sword fighting.

  25. Stonewalker says:

    I was hoping for a well-thought, non-emotional or political article. I’ll still finish it, but this is the first sentence.

    “A week after Jared Lee Loughner–accused multiple murderer and, in the words of The New York Times, “curious teenager and talented saxophonist”–went on one of those shooting sprees that Americans seem to regard as the price we pay for our god-given right to an armamentarium straight out of the NRA-wet-dream gun showroom in The Matrix, it was business as usual at the Crossroads of the West gun show at the Pima County Fairgrounds.”

    Partisan drivel.

  26. M says:

    I hate to joint the line of party-poopers on this train, but here’s me at 10: gun fascination, everything in the Mattel western lineup, itching for the real thing, and a long-time subscriber to Guns & Ammo. Six or seven years later, hunting with friends, but never finding much to shoot.

    Me now: total pacifist since about 18, vegetarian since 1972, never been in a fight, never arrested, don’t own a gun, am not anti-gun; I just don’t see the point.

    Reason: I was raised right, and I didn’t have a chemical imbalance that made me want to go out and kill people. Neither of these has a thing to do with the guns themselves.

    I hate to say it, but guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but here’s the hitch: as a group, the kind of people who feel like they MUST have a gun for some violent fantasy of self-defense/home-protection are the last people I would trust with one. Hunters, I have no problem with them, even as a vegetarian: if they can kill it, they can eat it. I have a bigger problem with people who buy it on a plastic tray not ever thinking about where it came from, and not taking responsibility for the killing.

  27. inkfumes says:

    I support gun ownership with limits, I don’t think anyone needs rocket launchers or machine guns etc, but personally I don’t want to own a firearm myself. I love to find leaky old bb guns or pellet guns and restore them. I enjoy the art of shooting, and airguns are cheaper and safer. No one is going to break into my house and kill me with my own bb gun. I don’t live in a place where i feel a real firearm is a necessity for personal protection, and I wouldn’t want to live in a place like that anyway. I grew up with realistic toy guns, parents always frowned on it, but they can’t stop me now, i’m a big boy.

    • Stonewalker says:

      Just for reference – legal precedent defines “Arms” as any weapon that can reasonably be maintained/carried/used by one person and is not area-of-effect. Which is the most D&D legal precedent I’ve ever seen.

      So any explosives are not protected by the 2A. Those would be categorized as “ordnance”.

  28. strangefriend says:

    You should also check out the B side of Negativland’s Guns. It consists of outtakes from a gun show video of models shooting off automatic weapons (Demi Moore among them) & an interview by a woman reporter with a gun spokesman pushing a gun fashion show for women.

  29. Philboyd Studge says:

    Playing with guns as a child is as likely to one into a homicidal maniac, as playing with dinosaurs is to a make one into a T-Rex.

    Read Saki’s “The Toys of Peace”:
    http://42opus.com/v7n1/thetoysofpeace
    Been there, tried that.

  30. The Chemist says:

    Yes by all means, let’s continue not to think about the role culture plays in any sort of violence, and continue with the same tired anecdotal, “Well I turned out alright…” nonsense.

    Handwave all you like, just don’t be stupid about it.

    • travtastic says:

      It’s just crazy people. You’re talking jive.

      I’m comfortable owning a full-auto assault rifle, because I wouldn’t assault people with it. And certainly not on full automatic.

      Only crazy people would expect a device to be used for its intended purpose.

    • Stonewalker says:

      You are right. There is a problem with our culture. I’m not sure what it is. I do know of one problem – we’ve lost the concept of community.

      “Eff our neighbors, they are running their own dog race” Then we complain that the police don’t have enough resources to combat crime. Well that is not the problem. Crime starts in our homes and communities and works it’s way out when nobody stands up.

      I don’t think the problem is how our kids play. Play involves fighting across the entire animal kingdom. Fighting and violence in play are important for learning limits and social functions. I don’t think toy guns are the problem.

      • travtastic says:

        Frankly, even real guns aren’t the problem. The problem is the fetishization of guns.

        Th US has a little under 3 times the number of firearms per person as Canada, but we have about 7.4 times the number of firearm-related homicides. And that difference was certainly larger back in the late 80s and 90s.

        • Stonewalker says:

          How do those statistics show that fetishization of guns is the problem? I honestly take offense to that phrase when people use it. It’s got such an elitist vibe to it, like the person using it is better because they hate a little hunk of metal. I’m not saying that about you, it’s just how I feel.

          I own one gun. I inherited my M1 Carbine from my grandfather a few years ago. I have always enjoyed shooting but now that I own a gun I have become as interested in 2nd amendment law as I am 4th, 5th, 6th (heck the entire BOR) amendment law.

          Throughout my life I plan on owning quite a few more WWII era guns and maybe a few modern weapons. Would you consider me a fetishist? I don’t plan on ever being a hero with my gun. I don’t plan on joining the revolution. I enjoy guns for the same reason I enjoy learning to grow my own food and build my own traps and make my own medicine out of plants in my area. It’s an awesome survival tool.

          Anyways, back from the tangent – when I hear “gun fetishist” I imagine you are imagining the dude with the revolver on his hip who wants to be the hero. Who looks forward to somebody breaking in so he can put a few holes in somebody. That is not the majority of gun owners. Yea I’m sure they exist, but I hear about them way more in the fantasies of anti-gunners than anywhere else. I try to go to the range about once a month, I talk to a lot of gunnies.

          • travtastic says:

            Well, first off, nothing you described is fetishistic.

            Secondly, the majority of drivers aren’t driving drunk. Are you okay with 17,941 deaths in 2006 then, since the majority were driving their vehicles in a restrained, reasonable fashion?

          • Stonewalker says:

            Perhaps I am a bit narrow in my view of gun owners. I was speaking from experience, and experience is not a great place to gain perspective from.

            I suppose I look at drunk drivers the same way I look at people who use a gun in a crime – lock em up. But that get’s into another issue – our prison system is completely effed up. People will choose to drive drunk and commit crimes with guns though, and it is my honest opinion that those are unfortunate consequences of having cars and guns in our society, but I certainly wouldn’t get rid of either. If I were king I’d make new city development focus on public transit and walking, but I wouldn’t get rid of cars.

          • travtastic says:

            I wouldn’t ban cars either.

            But what about cars modified with pedestrian-spearing spikes on the front? Or a windshield HUD with a laser rangefinder, so it’s easier to hit grandma on the crosswalk?

            They’re just nice to own. It’s not our fault that crazy people do crazy things with them.

        • Stonewalker says:

          An addendum to my previous comment –

          I’ve seen a few punks at the range before who maybe are more like the fetishist you talked about. They had no respect for firearms. Just thought they were cool. I think they are cool as well but I also treat them with more respect than my gas pedal in my car.

          Maybe these are the fetishists, and yes, I thought those punks were a problem.

          • travtastic says:

            Full disclosure: I like guns. They’re cool to take apart and fun to shoot.

            I also like blowing things up. Small things, in a safe fashion. Generally with gunpowder or flammables.

            The fetishists, however, in an alternate timeline, would be moaning persistently about the right to bear guided missiles.

  31. Nimdae says:

    I grew up around guns. My dad went hunting most seasons. He was my boy scout troop’s rifle and shotgun instructor (and thus dubbed the cool dad). I had a bb gun when I was really young (yes, it was a Daisy) and shot my first .22 before the age of 10. My dad took me on a couple game bird hunting trips before I was of age to legally hunt and allowed me to carry my bb gun. I was hunting with a .30-30 by the time I was 14. By that time I had shot a pretty big variety of handguns, long guns (including percussion cap lock muzzle loading rifle), and bows.

    In short, most of my young life I had exposure to various projectile weapons.

    My exposure to these weapons were calculated and controlled. My dad was careful and established a set of strictly enforced rules. Because guns were a part of my life, I never had a desire to play with them or otherwise misuse them.

    Guns are a hobby with me to this day. I’ve inherited my dad’s guns and have purchased a couple of my own. I go to the range on occasion for some target practice. However, hunting has kinda left me. I still have the first .22 rifle I shot, as well as the .30-30 my dad gave me as my first hunting rifle (Winchester Model 94).

    Guns do not make people into murderers. If it were true, then given the level of exposure to guns I have had, I should have become yet another Loughner, or whoever you want to equate such a person to.

    I am a liberal, but I don’t think adding to our currently unenforced gun control is the answer to solving these problems.

    • Stonewalker says:

      Nimdea – I especially appreciate your last sentence.

      “I am a liberal, but I don’t think adding to our currently unenforced gun control is the answer to solving these problems.”

      I fall into a pretty similar bucket. I joke that I am a libertarian socialist. What many articles and blogs tend to leave out is the fact that it is already illegal for criminals and the mentally infirm to purchase a gun. Let me repeat that. Jared Loughner, under current law, should not have had that gun.

      These two facts already bring up bill of rights issues though. The 1st 10 amendments to the constitution represent individual protections from the government. Things the government cannot do to assert it’s will over citizens, for whatever reason, whatever will that may be. I know 4th amendment violations boil everybody’s blood here on BoingBoing. They boil mine.

      I think we can all agree that NSA warrantless wiretapping violates the 4th amendment, and it’s very dangerous to civil rights for the Executive Branch to just issue that order with no oversight or knowledge from the public. It’s a clear violation of the 4th amendment. And yet, it happened, and people will defend that action because it makes us ‘safer’. Now that more people are starting to learn about it perhaps it will gain some momentum… but probably not.

      Anyways – like it or not, the 2nd amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. And that right is the same level of ‘right’ that protects us from warrantless wiretapping. If gun control legislation is to be passed without considering the 2nd amendment then “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms” would need to be downgraded from “Right” to “Privilege”. Violating the 2nd amendment in that way is totally analogous to passing a law that says the State/Fed government doesn’t need a warrant to spy on your internet traffic.

      Wow, ok this is getting long. Onto danger/public safety. People especially fear guns because everybody knows a gun can be a dangerous thing. People also fear terrorists so they passed the USA PATRIOT Act, violating many other rights. The thing about the Bill of Rights is that it *absolutely IS dangerous*. All of it. All the rights we assert could be a danger to society as a whole.

      The effects of pulling a trigger may be more immediatel­­y recognizab­­le as dangerous than someone spreading evil ideas but the principle is the same. I would argue that the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th amendments are just as dangerous as the 2nd.

      1st – KKK, neo-nazi’­s and other ilk are free to recruit publicly and privately, all without violating the law

      4th – the criminal is able to build bombs, make drugs, bury bodies as long as he does not tip the police off with any Probable Cause (evidence needed for a warrant)

      5th – the gang member/ter­rorist cannot be compelled to rat out his friends who could be planning something destructiv­­e.

      6th – the criminal has the right to fair trial

      The Bill of Rights protects bad guys just as much is it protects good guys. The risk of a mentally ill person getting a gun and going on a shooting spree is worth the protected rights we have. As uncomforta­­ble as it makes me feel to think about somebody like Mr. Loughner having a gun, I think it’s worth keeping the right unviolated­­. Violate one, and you endanger the others.

      If you disagree (and that’s fine) then at the very least recognize that you can’t violate the 2nd amendment without equally violating the principle behind the other amendments­­. I’m not against regulation. I am against regulation without considering everything I just typed.

      I don’t think toys make for murderers, just like D&D doesn’t make for Satanists.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why joke about being a libertarian socialist? It’s a perfectly logical category. The word libertarian meant socialist for over a hundred years. From the 1850s to the 1970s the term libertarian referred exclusively to the left (anti-capitalists). It was only in the early 1970s that the USA Libertarian Party hijacked the term. In most of the world libertarian is still refers to anarchists or anarchist leaning political orientations of the left.

        http://www.infoshop.org/page/AnarchistFAQSectionA1#seca13

        Unfortunately, there has been a shift in usage within mainstream political discourse in the USA. I personally would rather the right not be allowed to re-frame the debate in their own terms.

        Anarchism is at it’s core, not so much anti-government (Proudhon’s biting and brilliant “to be governed” aside) but opposed to all coercive forms of hierarchy such as the state, organized religion, capitalism, racism, patriarchy, etc. Anarchists envision and support various forms of non-hierarchical self-governance based on mutual aid and voluntary association such as localized or federated democratic structures (unions, councils, etc).

      • travtastic says:

        You’re quite wrong. By our current laws, Loughner was fully within his rights to buy a gun. That’s why he was able to buy one. It would only have been against the law had he been committed or decalared mentally unfit.

    • Mister44 says:

      re: “as well as the .30-30 my dad gave me as my first hunting rifle (Winchester Model 94).”

      Oooo – I bet that is a nice one.

  32. featherboa says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WphNO24h9nA
    Tom Paxton “Buy A Gun For Your Son” 1965

  33. Mister44 says:

    Re: “Clip vs Magazine”

    There shouldn’t be debate – there are clear and very real differences. Yes, it is Grammar-Nazi-like behavior to make a big deal of it, but just because the media and popular culture have confused the two, doesn’t mean they are the same.

    Here is an excellent illustration: http://i594.photobucket.com/albums/tt25/Johnson_n_2010/thereisadifference2.jpg

  34. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.

  35. vetnoir says:

    Of course. Because much like video games, Toy guns caused this tragedy.
    Regardless of the millions of American boys that grew up playing with toy guns and DIDN’T shoot anyone.

  36. nixiebunny says:

    I used to be concerned about toy guns until my sons discovered that a properly-eaten peanut butter sandwich crust makes a fine 9mm pistol. Whattaya gonna do, ban PBJs?

  37. Anonymous says:

    The dad part of me gets what you are saying. I cringe when my son gets all excited about nerf guns. But the kid part of me remembers that we were just having fun when we played with toy guns. Certainly paranoid crazy behaviour takes cues from the culture in which the nut resides, and I’ll go so far down the road with you to say American culture could dial back the gun culture a fair bit and be healthier for it. But I’m not going to outright ban toy guns from my house. And when my kids are old enough I will teach them how to shoot at a range. I don’t own guns and won’t keep them in a house. But knowing how to handle a gun safely, use one to hunt or how to disarm someone, those are skills like driving or reading or math. And when kids play they play at being grown ups. The job of the adults around kids is to teach them the difference between play and the larger grown up world.

    But Loughner’s parents sound fairly responsible. If anything he sounds like he could have used some mental health treatment. I think he was egged on by what he heard in the media sure, but the core of his problem sounds like something in the realm of mental illness.

  38. Kai Jones says:

    I blame the government–I learned to shoot at a public high school. The range was under the theater, the class satisfied the Phys Ed (gym) requirement, and you didn’t have to dress down before (change into shorts and t-short) or shower after. Win!

  39. Anonymous says:

    We’ve never bought our 4 yr old son a toy gun or anything similiar, yet he often gnaws toast or sandwiches into gun shapes and pretends that he’s shooting.

    On another note, I hafta wonder if we wouldn’t dramatically reduce the number of senseless, spur-of-the-moment shootings if we simply banned civilian handguns – grandfathering those alredy owned but not permitted the sales of any new handguns. The very form factor of a rifle would seem to make it more difficult (not impossible, certainly) to smuggle into and use in confirned quarters.

    I’m not about getting rid of the 2nd Ammendment – I just want to limit acess to the most commonly-misused weaponry. There’s a reason I can’t legally buy a Howitzer or rocket launcher . Let’s apply that same common sense towards handguns.

    If nothing else, consider it a social experiment. Ban the sales handgun to civilians for a decade and carefully track the shooting criume stats. What do we have to lose – except fewer innocent bystanders?

  40. Mister44 says:

    More hand wringing and whining about an object less dangerous than other items we come in contact with every day, yet don’t seem to have the same paranoia and fear about.

  41. mneptok says:

    why weren’t the parents ever home, in ’60s Southern California?

    Can we rename this article to “Absentee American Parenting: An American Tragedy?”

    I know the Loughners have experienced unbelievable pain and suffering these past two weeks, but at some point someone has to ask, “Loughners, if you were so concerned about your son’s behavior, what steps exactly did you take as a family to ensure he was not a danger to himself or others?”

    And if they had, what kind of mental health facilities does AZ have to help families like this?

    But hell, let’s blame the gun. It’s way easier.

    • MadMolecule says:

      Or better yet, let’s blame the guy who actually committed the crime.

      • mneptok says:

        MM,

        I’ll blame the actual perpetrator when it becomes clear that he knew what he was doing was wrong. I firmly believe in insanity defenses. I’ll reserve judgment on whether Jared Loughner deserves my outrage or pity.

        But it’s clear that people around him knew that something was wrong. His parents were concerned, schools were concerned. These people knew right from wrong, used that sense to make a determination about the mental stability of Jared, and then … what?

        I’m a big gun rights supporter. Hence my knee-jerk reaction to *not* blame the gun. But people that leave loaded guns on the front porch make me nervous. And people that witness the mentally ill struggling to cope and do not take steps to get them the assessments and treatments they may need are, IMO, doing the equivalent.

        And if they did seek help, and were unable to find it easily, my outrage/pity opinions will change again. And also in that case, I’d hope that those people absolutely opposed to any type of public healthcare will rethink their positions vis-a-vis mental health.

        • Anonymous says:

          Hear here!

          Gun licences are for a jumping-through-hoops scenario unavailable to the disorganised.

          Mental health care, by necessity, must be available to the most fractured and disconnected, or what good is it?

  42. Anonymous says:

    We’ve already made toy guns laughable compared to those we had in the 1960s. Somehow, I don’t think this guy had a Red Ryder or a Peacemaker.

  43. MrJM says:

    Until I watched that Negativland video, I’d forgotten just how cool firearms are.

  44. grimc says:

    Anybody want to make the case for a 31-round pistol clip? Curious to what that would be.

    • Anonymous says:

      First off- it’s a magazine, not a clip. Unless you’re trying to pimp out a Mauser broomhandle.

      As to the WHY- because it can be feasibly engineered? Because someone, somewhere feels like firing 30 rounds before reloading could be hazardous to their health or patience?

      If someone only has an hour for range time, I can see that they’d like to spend most of that firing, not reloading. A shoebox full of 31-rounders would provide that, if you have the patience to plan.

      I, personally, find extended magazines ugly and pointless. They ruin the contours and balance of the gun, and typically run 3x the price of the standard capacity ones. But just because I personally would not buy something is not a reason for it’s nonexistence. No one suggests banning jumbo jugs of rat poison, even the potential for misuse is likewise there.

    • Mister44 says:

      I Will:

      1) It is a pain in the ass when you are shooting for fun to load magazines.

      2) Past bans had no effect on crime, nor were they hard to find – they were just more expensive.

      3) Other than a few high profile abuses, they aren’t harming anyone.

    • Stonewalker says:

      Funny thing about the 31 round magazine Mr. Loughner used – people were able to subdue him when it jammed during reloading. If he had been using the standard 10-15 round magazines that are more reliable (like Mr. Cho at Virginia Tech) then his gun likely would not have jammed, and he could have kept on going.

      Reloading can take as little as 1 or 2 seconds if the shooter is practiced. It is not about the weapon, tool or vehicle but how it is used.

      I don’t like to use the car analogy because I feel it fails in a of ways – but Loughner arguably could have killed more people with an SUV (or Assault Vehicle, as my wife as started calling them. Part of her fear campaign against cars).

    • Anonymous says:

      Making a case for a 31-round pistol magazine from the standpoint of “Why do you NEED one?”, no I don’t think I can (or anyone else, for that matter). However, we don’t have to make need cases for objects. I don’t NEED a smartphone, iPod, motorcycle or 25″ LCD monitor for my PC. Since when have we had to make a need case for an object to be manufactured?

    • MrJM says:

      Makes me feel like a big man.

    • Ernunnos says:

      It’s a magazine, not a clip. And the case for it is the same as the case for a 30 round rifle magazine. You don’t have to reload as often. Less reloading, more fun shooting.

      Care to make a case for why sane, law-abiding Americans should be restricted on the basis of what insane, law-breaking Americans do? If you can’t trust a guy with a 31-round magazine, you can’t trust him with a 5-gallon can of gas and a Zippo. Bring back mental hospitals. Lock him up and give him Thorazine. I promise you I won’t even complain if you raise my taxes to roll back that bit of Reagan-era cost-cutting. We’re paying the same amount to keep the mentally ill in prisons anyway, where they don’t get help, and after they’ve already committed crimes that give killjoys an excuse to punish the rest of us. Which they seem to desire more than they desire to help the mentally ill.

      • grimc says:

        “Clip” v. “magazine”, huh? I know gun owners who bicker about this, and it’s like arguing over whether you’re on the Internet or the World Wide Web. In other words: Meh.

        Care to make a case for why sane, law-abiding Americans should be restricted on the basis of what insane, law-breaking Americans do?

        Sure: Because insane, law-breaking Americans are sane, law-abiding Americans until they aren’t. Unfortunately, with firearms we don’t find out who is what until people are dead.

        It’s funny how some people like to analogize firearms with things like gas, or more commonly, cars. They try to reduce guns to being just like any other object that can kill people, yet fight against all regulation because the 2nd Amendment clearly gives a unique status to firearms.

        But I respect your honesty: Gun regulations just get in the way of fun.

        And travtastic makes good points. Does that make him a killjoy?

        • wormbaby says:

          Clip v. magazine? I don’t think those were gun owners arguing about it. They are very different. Guns that utilize a clip still have a magazine they are just affixed. The clip is used to make it easier to load cartridges into the magazine by allowing you to insert more than one cartridge at a time.

          • Ugly Canuck says:

            Clips, cartridges, magazines, breeches, barrels and hammers.

            No name on the bullet….

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu0LL-M5gxM

            If you’ve got a finger on the trigger don’t you pull it.

          • travtastic says:

            What normal person imagines a gun and pictures something like an M1 Garand?

            This is just about being anal retentive. For all intents and purposes in day-to-day life, the two terms are interchangeable.

            Now if you’ll pardon me momentarily, I have to go provide sustenance to my Felis catus.

            Well, actually, that’s the species name. Her name is technically Snickers.

          • wormbaby says:

            Well anyone who goes rifle shopping for one. You will notice they have many options that utilize clips. The M1 garand is also a VERY popular sporting rifle to this day and are manufactured by the thousands.

          • travtastic says:

            Again, most people.

        • Stonewalker says:

          “Because insane, law-breaking Americans are sane, law-abiding Americans until they aren’t. Unfortunately, with firearms we don’t find out who is what until people are dead.”

          This brings up Due Process of Law issues. Referenced in the 5th, 6th and 14th amendments. Can’t deprive anybody of life, liberty or property without Due Process. Innocent until proven guilty. It’s very dangerous thinking to call everybody “sane, law-abiding citizens before they become insane law-breaking citizens”.

          Thought crime is next.

          • travtastic says:

            I think you’re misreading here.

            Everyone is “a sane, law-abiding American”, until they do something insane. That doesn’t mean that everyone will do something insane. It means that you don’t have the specific information for that judgment call until it’s too late to prevent a crime.

            Bringing Big Brother into this isn’t really helping anything.

          • Stonewalker says:

            “Everyone is “a sane, law-abiding American”, until they do something insane. That doesn’t mean that everyone will do something insane. It means that you don’t have the specific information for that judgment call until it’s too late to prevent a crime.”

            I’m gona get all cheezy here and talk about a free society. We can’t prevent accidents. We can’t prevent all crime or deadly situations. I’m all for police preventing whatever crime they can, as long as they stay within the bounds of the Bill of Rights – and pre-emptively preventing firearm ownership based on a fear of somebody doing something crazy is certainly *not* within the bounds of the BOR.

            And I’m all for police detectives using the tools they have to prevent crimes. Warrants for audio/video bugs. Wiretaps, Stings, bait cars – all of that is great. It just needs to stay within the bounds of the bill of rights.

          • travtastic says:

            You seem to be conflating firearm ownership with with other implements designed specifically to kill people.

            Extended mags, assault rifles, sniper rifles, exotic ammo and the like are not hunting weapons, nor are they good for home defense. They’re for killing a lot of people, and doing it quickly.

          • wormbaby says:

            ummm assault rifles are to provide suppressive fire until you can get close enough to engage a target directly, they are also an excellent choice for hunting varmits and small game. Btw there is not a single functional difference between an assault rifle and a run of the mill semi auto carbine, the only differences are cosmetic. Also I don’t think the founders meant we get to have them for hunting when they explicitly state being necessary to the security of a free State.

          • travtastic says:

            Yeah, you might want to use a varmint rifle for that. We don’t give M4s to soldiers so they can shoot Iraqi groundhogs.

          • wormbaby says:

            Ok well there is a reason the .223 is illegal in most places to hunt game like deer, sheep, or antelope. The cartridge used in the m4 supplied to our troops is not sufficiently lethal against game of that size. Do a google search sir there are literally hundreds of varmit rifles chambered in .223 or 5.56x45mm NATO.

          • travtastic says:

            My friend, you need to disabuse yourself of this notion that you are going to teach this city boy about yer guns.

            This is an M4 carbine

            This is what 99% of people think a varmint rifle is. That’s because this is a varmint rifle.

          • Mister44 says:

            re: Varmit rifles.

            That is not a Varmit rifle. That is a one shot Thompson Encore – great for target shooting.

            Something like a Winchester Model 70 in .22-250 is a good example.

            Something like Rock River Arm’s AR-15 based Varmint A4 in .223 Wylde is another good example – one that is becoming more and more common.

            re: “Extended mags, assault rifles, sniper rifles, exotic ammo and the like.”

            Yes I am confused, because most of those things are not used in crime. Why penalize legit, legal owners for a tiny fraction of those who misuse them. (In my book, an assault rifle is one used in an assault – not one that looks ‘scary’.) A ‘sniper rifle’ describes just about every deer rifle out there.

            re: “viva la revolution”

            As I said – it would never happen. If it did it would mean a good chunk of the military would be on either side. And if it did happen you wouldn’t do retarded things foot charges on entrenched positions because someone somewhere read a fucking book on WWI.

          • Stonewalker says:

            This is probably where the libertarian in ‘libertarian socialist’ comes out a lot more in me. The idea behind the 2nd amendment is that the citizenry would be armed with small arms, similar to what the military uses, but there are more of us than them.

            So I think the spirit of the 2A is that we should be able to have full-autos. Now… I’m not gona go advocating that and frankly I’m ok with that restriction, even though I think it doesn’t fit the idea behind the 2A. When you say ‘Sniper Rifle’ I’m not sure what you mean. Pretty much any deer rifle could be considered a sniper rifle.

            Explosive rounds – not protected by 2A
            Armor Piercing rounds – meh. I’m ok with that restriction too. Even though pretty much any center-fire cartridge can penetrate body armor near or far, but whatever.

            When you say “Assault Rifle” do you mean full-auto? Because the Federal Assault Weapon ban did not regulate full-autos. Those have been heavily restricted since the National Firearms Act of 1934. Any civilian AK47 or AR15 you see is semi-automatic. “Assault Weapon” is a political term. It describes guns that have certain cosmetic features, such as bayonet lugs and forward pistol grips. But the truth is every Assault weapon functions just like any semi-auto hunting rifle.

            Anyways, the uncomfortable truth is that the 2nd amendment is there in case people need to be killed. Gun advocates and anti-gun advocates shouldn’t shy away from that fact.

          • travtastic says:

            I mean a sniper’s rifle. A device for killing human beings from a long distance.

          • Stonewalker says:

            “I mean a sniper’s rifle. A device for killing human beings from a long distance”

            The reason I asked is because there is no difference in functionality between a high-powered deer rifle with a scope and a high-powered military rifle with a scope, if both are semi-auto or bolt action. When I say high-powered I’m talking 30.06 or Winchester .300. The military one may look ‘tactical’ but at it’s core it goes ‘clank/boom’ for every 1 pull of the trigger, just like any other high-powered semi-auto or bolt rifle.

            I was being extremely frank when I said ‘in case people need to be killed’ for effect. The threat of force has been there since 1776, and our country’s legislators have had to make decisions knowing that all along. I realize that sounds terrible in light of the Tuscon shooting, but Mr. Loughner’s actions are not what I’m talking about.

            Regarding civilians vs military – Many deer rifles are effective to a mile and beyond. I’m not saying that a resistance or whatever would be very effective today. But they wouldn’t have to be. I don’t think US soldiers would take too kindly to orders to on US citizens.

            I’ll be frank again – the 2nd amendment is so that our government knows there could be a rifle inside every home just like the ones their soldiers use. I would feel like I was being intellectually dishonest if argued otherwise. I’m still reading and learning though. I’ve read much of the Heller and McDonald decisions.

          • travtastic says:

            Again.

            Your .30 caliber deer rifle will not penetrate modern armor plate. Your extended mag will not thermally shield shield you in the bushes from an Apache’s infrared. Your armor-piercing ammo will not stop loyalists from burning your house down and killing your family while you’re out taking potshots at APCs.

            This isn’t 1865. The government does not care about your hunting rifle, or your Glock. You and a thousand other second amendment freedom fighters could be shredded in minutes. Unless you’re talking about some multi-decade guerrilla war, you would just flat-out die. And probably lose either way.

            There’s this fantasy you guys have of carrying a giant US Freedom Flag onto the Capital steps, and then there’s the mundane reality where you’d probably be arrested in the middle of the night before you can load up all your awesome firepower.

          • rhinoman says:

            Well, as far as the effectiveness of pistols and rifles against armies, you might want to check out Tito’s partisans, the Viet Cong, the Sandanistas, Castro’s troop against Batista, the Afghanis against the Soviet Red Army, and, well, do your own research.
            Also, look at the Rwandan genocide. Mostly done with machetes, which was easily possible because the people were unarmed and couldn’t really defend themselves.

          • travtastic says:

            All of you guys are seriously ridiculous. Are we actually discussing the Rwandan genocide as a reason to own weapons?

          • Mister44 says:

            If we wanted to play ‘what if’: considering ignorant, illiterate cave dwellers armed with old, substandard arms, with little training on how to use them properly are still managing to kill our troops and win the hearts of some of the populace – I’d say an American insurrection, while not over powering the military, could lead a fairly successful campaign.

            You are forgetting too that if there were an issue so polarizing that a rebellion would take place, you can bet there will be factions within the military that join one side or the other. Which means there would be Apache vs Abrams – not rusted T-64.

            Of course – this will never happen. We are too placated with our iPods and Jersey Shore that we don’t mind the leash so much – certainly not enough to try to chew through it.

            As for another of your arguments, it is a bit confusing with all the back and forth, what issues do you have with “Extended mags, assault rifles, sniper rifles, exotic ammo and the like.”

          • travtastic says:

            You’re confused as to why I don’t like add-ons to weapons that make it easier to kill humans?

          • travtastic says:

            You’re right, you’re right.

            What we need to do is buy tons of black market explosives, or make them ourselves. Then we’ll start putting out roadside bombs. Then we’ll launch futile foot-charges against entrenched positions, getting all of us killed. Then, then! We’ll continue to engage in a protracted, decade-plus low-intensity guerrilla war against the government, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, mostly us.

            And we’ll finally be victorious when the government gets bored and goes off killing someone else.

          • Stonewalker says:

            Perhaps I am coming off this way, but you are making it sound as if I am ready to sign up to fight the man or something. This is not the case. It is just my honest assessment of what the founders intent behind the 2nd amendment was. That doesn’t mean that I have to be ready to fight in a resistance, just because I understand the founders intent this way.

            And because I understand it this way I probably have a more strict interpretation of what kind of laws would violate it or violate the spirit of it. And I will guard that interpretation in the same way I guard the my interpretation of the 1st, 4th, 5th, and all the other amendments – violations without considering the cost is unacceptable.

          • travtastic says:

            So, what, you’re some kind of self-proclaimed armchair revolutionary in the Take Mah Gun wars of 2014?

          • travtastic says:

            Anyways, the uncomfortable truth is that the 2nd amendment is there in case people need to be killed. Gun advocates and anti-gun advocates shouldn’t shy away from that fact.

            Fire up your googles. There are plenty of people who will provide arguments that you’re wrong, and it was a contemporary issue about defending the country from external forces via militia.

            And dude, in all seriousness. You can have all the AP ammo you want. You would either be run over by a tank, napalmed, hit with a missile, or otherwise killed in a high-technological fashion long before you could hit anything with your deer rifle.

            The whole point and efficacy of asymmetric warfare is the asymmetry. We’re not talking about cattle rustlers, we’re talking about the most powerful military force in world history. All this “in case people need to be killed” is some redneck fantasy just slightly more rational than this crap.

            Now please bear in mind, I’m not saying you’re a redneck; you probably aren’t. But that’s what we’re talking about here. There are plenty of reasons to rise up against a power, but when we get down to it, most everyone who talks about this stuff in America means that city folks are gunna take der guns.

          • travtastic says:

            Wait, wait. Explain ‘libertarian socialist’ for me, please?

          • Stonewalker says:

            “Wait, wait. Explain ‘libertarian socialist’ for me, please?”

            Earlier the thread I mentioned that I like to joke that I am a libertarian socialist. I vote almost exclusively for bill of rights issues but I also feel like our government should do less war and pay for it’s sick citizens to get health care.

          • travtastic says:

            That just makes you a rational socialist. Other than that one amendment.

  45. Anonymous says:

    In the sixties and fifties it was the westerns; today it’s the cop shows.

  46. Hundefar says:

    Next week at Boing Boing: How porn makes people into rapists, horror movies makes people into killers, video games makes people into killers and marijuana is a gateway drug that will make you into a crazy crackfiend.

  47. rexvendetta says:

    but wait, didn’t you just post an article about building a better (more killerable) nerf gun? but I thought… oh, never mind.

  48. telaquapacky says:

    I think the framers of the Constitution allowed for the possibility that the government they were designing would spin out of control, become despotic and need to be overthrown violently by it’s citizens- Jefferson certainly expected that. Ergo the second amendment. It was designed to permit us citizens to own weapons that could be used in such an insurrection. Given the weaponry posessed by our armed forces today, the faithful interpretation of the intention of the second amendment would entitle me to have a weapon that could compete with anything the armed forces has.

    Furthermore, our founders lived in a culture and enviornment where guns were probably more necessary to survival for them than cell phones are for us. You might say that we don’t need them. But yes we do- if we are going to overthrow our government.

    The problem isn’t with the amendment. The problem is with people thinking that this present government has risen to the heights of totalitarianism that armed insurrection is warranted. These fears are fanned by political commentators politicians and influential thought leaders who have been using language that more appropriate in a country in dire turmoil, ruled by a despotic regime that needs to be violently overthrown for our survival. They are not speaking as if people have disagreements about taxes and spending, and discontents over unemployment- things that can and should be settled by the democratic process.

    So- restrict freedom of speech? No. See, there’s the conundrum. When you have a free country, people are free even to be stupid, evil and crazy, and you’ll have events like these on occasion. I hate it, but I don’t see any acceptable alternatives.

    I’ve never wanted or owned a gun. If I need a gun to survive, I’d rather die, thank you. But you can have all the guns you want. Just leave me alone.

    • travtastic says:

      Not being a nutjob, I still take issue with your description of our politics in America as “the democratic process”.

      Having the rest of the world speed away from your gun-toting, backwoods lifestyles and dreams is not a reason for armed insurrection. But we do have plenty of very deadly, very real problems in this country that our faux-democracy will never solve. At least not in a reasonable time. Governments in world history have been overthrown for far, far less.

      • telaquapacky says:

        About “the democratic process,” you have me there. A lot of us doubt our elections are real anymore.

        The things about our government that I hate the most are things caused by a secret shadow government (the CIA and what else, I don’t know about) that protects the foreign and domestic profit centers of our most powerful corporations. I wonder if you can have one without the other- in other words, we are a wealthy country. So we have powerful individuals who commandeer secretive and violent government functions to serve their interests. This is the condition of the world. The only way to get away from that is to emigrate to a poorer and more guiltless country with less blood on it’s hands.

        Why I believe emigration is a better solution than insurrection is that the people who would be the most fitting leaders of an government overthrow, just happen to be pacifists. The stupidest, and those most bent toward creating a new government worse than the former one are gun-toting militarists. Look at the protests of the 60′s. We threatened to fight our parents in the streets. What did we do? We were a bunch of barefooted, pacifistic gerbils. And we were right. Our government needed to be overthrown. Just look at the snippet in that video of the Zapruder film. The official report by the government was a big lie. Then they sent us to Vietnam. America sucks. If we had our way, we’d have a Utopia, but you can’t get your own way on that grand a scale without killing people. I don’t want to kill anybody. And besides, who do you kill? What do you bomb? It’s pointless. So if you’re stuck living in this country and can’t find a better place to spend the rest of your days, you just vote and hope for the best.

        • travtastic says:

          But it’s not the condition of the world. The problem is that our systems are specifically designed to reward violence, greed, and the promotion of suffering. These things need to be disincentivized, not rewarded.

          For example, the rampant speculation on Wall Street. It wasn’t that a bunch of bad apples were naughty. Their system was purposefully designed (or modified) to suck up wealth, from the bottom to the top. It worked exactly as planned. Seriously.

          This country is facing the same handicaps towards progress as much of the rest of the world. Namely: a turncoat media, a rigged political system, a lack of education, and good old, reliable fear of physical assault or death. There’s a difference between it being a natural way of things, and it just having gone on for so long that we’ve all internalized it. It’s become normal. By force.

  49. jlopere says:

    How about, “Blame Something Else: An American Love Story?”

    There were so many clues with this Loughner kid had serious problems, no one in positions of responsibilty (the parent primarily) did anything about it. Shame on all of them.

    More gun control legislation is just for political points and the appearance that something is being done.

    • Hools Verne says:

      Yes, let us blame the parents for failing to compel a legal adult to do something he clearly did not want to do.

  50. bhtooefr says:

    I’m in the camp that interprets the 2nd Amendment, and the founders writings around that time, as intending the populace to be armed against the government. (I’d need to look up what they meant by “arms,” mind you – whether the Supreme Court’s “man portable” interpretation is correct, or something else.)

    Even by the man-portable interpretation, that means that the people should be allowed to carry whatever any standing military’s infantry carries. Actually, making that law would be rather interesting – it would mean that the military would have to either reduce weaponry to keep the populace from having certain weapons, increase weaponry and rely on training, or switch away from man-portable weapons (but the massively large number of people would cause that to backfire quickly.)

    (As a historical aside, an interesting one is the Second Militia Act of 1792. From Wikipedia… “…every able-bodied white male citizen…of the age of 18 years and under the age of 45…be enrolled in the militia…Every citizen so enrolled…shall within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt “and…not less than twenty-four cartridges…” It was an attempt to draft a standing army, but it also MANDATED gun ownership. Or, for a far more modern example without the draft (and also without teeth, as moral objectors to gun ownership are exempt,) there’s always Kennesaw, GA.)

    That said, we’re not to the point where the ammo box should be used. Our rights have been violated, but that doesn’t mean that we should automatically open fire. The trick with opening fire is, you’re depriving others of rights, as well, the moment you pull the trigger. Not only that, but you’re depriving them of due process. You better make damn sure that what you’re going to do will actually fix things, because if it doesn’t, it’ll just make things worse for everyone, and also deprive whoever you’ve killed of their rights.

    Now, if you feel that our country is irrevocably corrupt, to the point where soap, ballot, and jury boxes don’t work… rather than attack the US Government… go the non-violent route. Secede from the union. Do note that you’ll have to be very heavily armed to do this successfully, and your new nation will have to be completely independent – no existing nation will support you, and anyone who will support you, you don’t want supporting you.

    Once you’ve seceded, make it very clear that your goal is to be *LEFT ALONE.* You do your thing, the US does their thing. Avoid trade with the US. Actually, it’s best to avoid trade altogether. (Which is why you need to be completely independent the moment you secede.) However, try to stay in the media – not by doing anything stupid, just by being open about what you’re doing. If the US attempts to violate your rights as a sovereign nation, that’s the moment where you open fire. No earlier, no later. And, because you’ve got the media involved, political opinion may go against the US.

    • travtastic says:

      You know, I’m actually cool with that.

      There is one issue though. The bad things that happened, which caused your thought-experiment nation to secede? Yeah, they’re still happening. Not to you, not to your neighbors, but they’re happening.

      Not to Godwin anyone here, but if part of Germany had decided to (and successfully did) secede from the Reich in the 40s, I would not have looked on them very kindly. There would still be a Holocaust on.

      This is obviously an extreme example, but it should scale nicely. The assholes of the world should not be running things. Secession is nothing but isolationism.

      • bhtooefr says:

        Then maybe the best option is to provoke the US into attacking. (Grow some weed or something, that’ll work nicely.)

        Then, you’re tying up US resources to fight yet another war. (And, before you say “personally owned weapons can’t compete,” as someone else said, “ignorant, illiterate cave dwellers armed with old, substandard arms, with little training on how to use them properly are still managing to kill our troops and win the hearts of some of the populace” – so that argument doesn’t work.) Which reduces the US government’s effectiveness altogether, and makes it easier for someone else to bring it down, or makes it harder for the US to be oppressive.

        And, because the US is attacking you, and you’re defending yourself, you have the moral high ground, which you don’t have when you’re attacking the US.

        (Also, there are strong arguments that Lincoln did quite a lot to destroy the strong-states, weak-federal power structure that the founding fathers intended, and that ending slavery by force wasn’t the only way to do it. (I’ll make very, very clear that I feel that slavery is completely wrong. However, Lincoln’s method of ending it by force caused the federal government to become far, far stronger, destroying the power structure that was put into place to avoid what’s happening now.) That would make John Wilkes Booth a patriot. And, what weapon did he use to do it? That’s right, a derringer. And he concealed it. So, if one were to go for the offensive approach, there are reasons for handguns to be legal under the Second Amendment, if you interpret it as for the defense of liberty.)

        There are other methods to go, than secession – concentration of like-minded people within a small area within US can help, such as the Free State Project. That’s a way to hijack the ballot box, without doing anything wrong. I’ve also suggested infiltrating the Republican and Democratic parties with a “shadow party” that, when they obtain a supermajority in the House and Senate, and get the Presidency, drops all party affiliations other than the shadow party, and works to repeal all of the crap that keeps the Republicans and Democrats in office, encouraging third parties. (As well as trying to make things better overall, for the sake of making things better, and to improve chances of re-election under the shadow party.) However, this would take billions of dollars, and ~20-50 years to pull off – assuming the shadow party doesn’t get exposed early. (The reason for infiltrating both parties is so that no matter who wins, the shadow party wins. However, given the current back-and-forth political climate, you could infiltrate one in a weak election cycle, and then next election cycle, the party you chose may be strong enough – and that might actually work in 8-12 years.)

  51. Ernunnos says:

    My parents were pacifists. That’s why I’m here. They met while my dad was serving his country as a hospital orderly since he was a conscientious objector during Viet Nam. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to have toy guns. So with those genetics and that upbringing, how did I turn out?

    I made my own toy guns out of bits of scrap wood from his workshop. And today at lunch I bought yet another gun for my collection, a Colt Pocket Hammerless model made in 1916. Its original buyer may have purchased it by mail, or across the counter at a hardware store with no paperwork. I found a picture this Christmas of a 1920 Christmas window display of a Washington DC sporting goods store, with the same model of gun right next to the model trains and boxing gloves. I doubt mine has ever been fired in anger in all of its 94 years. I’ve probably fired hundreds of thousands of rounds in my life, never at a human being. I put another 50 through a paper target with that Colt today. Americans fire billions of rounds of just one type of ammo-.22 long rifle-every year, year after year, enough to kill every one of us several times over.

    Why aren’t we all dead? Because for 99.99-something% of us, guns are toys. It’s a fun past-time, with the occasional self defense benefit, which is ever-so-rarely misused by a relatively tiny number of individuals who don’t don’t respect laws against murder and would respect laws restricting guns.

    Restricting peaceful Americans to try to affect them in some way would be as pointless an ineffectual as my parents’ ban on toy guns.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Paradoxically, I think America’s trend of now keeping toy guns from kids makes things worse. First, it just adds to mystique of guns. Just makes kids want a real one even more. But I can also remember being taught to always always always use proper gun safety, even with a capgun or watergun. Strict rules actually made things more fun. As an adult, I have no deep desire to have a gun, but instinctively treat any I touch with deep respect.

    Parenting: it works!

  53. retrojoe says:

    Oh no…I grew up with cap guns, then air rifles and finally (aghast!) a real .22 rifle before I was 14! I am a danger to you all!

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