In American crisis, anger and guns

By Bernd Debusmann
March 19, 2009

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
– Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. —

In the first two months of this year, around 2.5 million Americans bought guns, a 26 percent increase over the same period in 2008. It was great news for gun makers and a sign of a dark mood in the country.

Gun sales shot up almost immediately after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and firearm enthusiasts rushed to stores, fearing he would tighten gun controls despite campaign pledges to the contrary.

After the November spike, gun dealers say, a second motive has helped drive sales: fear of social unrest as the ailing economy pushes the newly destitute deeper into misery. Many of the newly poor come from the relentlessly rising ranks of the unemployed. In February alone, an average of 23,000 people a day lost their jobs.

Tent cities for the homeless have expanded outside a string of American cities, from Sacramento and Phoenix to Atlanta and Seattle, for people who are living the American dream in reverse. First they lose their jobs, then their health insurance, then their homes, then their hopes. The encampments are reminiscent of Third World refugee camps.

Often former members of the middle class, tent dwellers’ accounts of their plight to television cameras have a common theme: “I never thought this could happen to me.” Unlike the victims of Katrina, the 2005 hurricane that destroyed much of New Orleans, many of the newly-poor are white.

The FBI says it carried out 1,213,885 criminal background checks on prospective firearms buyers in January and 1,259,078 in February, jumps of 28% and 23.3% respectively. Keen demand turned the stocks of publicly-trade firearms companies like Smith & Wesson (up 80% since November) and Sturm Ruger (up more than 100%) into shining stars on the New York Stock Exchange.

There are no statistics on how many guns are bought by people who think they need them to defend themselves against desperate fellow citizens.

But, as columnist David Ignatius put it in the Washington Post, “there’s an ugly mood developing as people start looking for villains to blame for the economic mess.” In November, an analysis published by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute listed “unforeseen economic collapse” as one of the possible causes of future “widespread civil violence.”

The American economy is down but not out, and in mid-March some experts reported signs that the pace of the decline was slowing. But it hasn’t slowed enough to sweep away the sense of anxiety and fear that comes through in many conversations and commentaries about the future of this normally optimistic country.

While Obama’s approval rating remains high, at 59%, almost two thirds of the population thinks the country is on the wrong track, according to a poll commissioned by National Public Radio in mid-March.

“What is really remarkable about all this is that there hasn’t been social unrest,” remarked an executive with business interests in Latin American countries where riots and street demonstrations in response to economic squeezes are routine. “The conditions for it are all there.”

ANGER ABOUT BAILOUTS

Anger is building. Just under half of those surveyed in a poll by the Pew Research Center this month expressed anger about “bailing out banks and financial institutions that made poor decisions.” The poll was taken before details became known of the full extent of the bonus-paying spree to members of the very team that brought the insurance giant AIG close to collapse.

The government propped up AIG with close to $200 billion and now owns 80% of the company. The argument that $165 million in bonuses had to be paid under contractual obligations went down particularly badly with workers of the three U.S. car companies whose leaders appealed for support from the Bush administration last year when the economic crisis gathered steam.

One of the conditions for the billions that were dispensed to the car industry was that contracts between auto workers and their union, the United Auto Workers, had to be renegotiated to cut costs. The union agreed, and the question arises: are contracts with blue-collar workers less binding than those with highly-paid derivatives traders?

Some see this as another sign of the inequalities that Obama promised to address. Remember his famous exchange with Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, during a campaign stop? “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Obama told him.

There’s less wealth to spread around now as trillions of dollars has evaporated with increasing speed in the deepening crisis. In housing alone, more than $5 trillion has vanished. The gap between rich and poor, a gap of Third World proportions, has not changed. A full-time worker, on average, made $37,606 last year, considerably less than in 1973, adjusted for inflation.

While CEOs made 45 times as much as workers in 1973 they make more than 300 times as much today, according to Holly Sklar, author of “Raise the Floor, Wages and Policies that Work for All of US.”

To what extent those gaps will shrink under Obama remains to be seen and the outlook for swift action is not promising. There are, in fact, not many things for which the outlook is promising. Exceptions include Smith&Wesson. They expect revenue to double within the next three years.

You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com.

263 comments

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This author is a complete economic illiterate. The only thing Obama will do is spread the MISERY equally. This is utterly un- American and downright scary. Where are all the phony civil libertarians on the Left, now that the government wants to steal money that they have no right to? The fruits of one’s labor belong to him/her and nobody has a claim to it. There is no “middle class” as the word “class” means something that can not change (think the SUV “class”). You can be wealthy today and tomorrow lose it all and vise versa. Get off your Butt and go work. You live in the Greatest Country in the world with the most opportunity precisely, because you CAN become rich and prosperous and that there is a secure social compact were contracts that are mutually agreed upon are honored and sacred. You do not have a right to other people’s money. G-d Bless America and the Second Amendment.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

No use talking and whining about it. Real America will not be dominated by, and required to support, left wing communists. Aint … gonna … Happen. As the late Paul Harvey said “America traditionally uses three boxes to control left wing government control. First the Ballot Box, failing in that then the Jury Box, failing in that then the Cartridge Box.” You think the US Military will protect the homosexual, the abortionists, or the so called environmentalist-communists? HA! Better think again. Who do you think IS the milatary?

Posted by JR | Report as abusive

If by Bush and his “cronies” you mean Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Maxine Waters, Barney Frank, Etc. then you would be correct. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with other mortgage companies that let their greed runaway with them, were the Major cause of the housing melt down which is credited with starting the financial slide. These people demanded that anyone who wanted a house be loaned money by Mortgage companies, regardless of whether they cold pay for them or not. And yes, I also blame Bush as well because he championed this line also. Some Republicans and a few Democrates warned that this type of leanding would be disatserous but nobody wanted to listen. You should also know that Democrates have controled the purse strings of government since 2006. What did they do to prevent this… NOTHING!!! This Crash occured on their watch…

Posted by Glen | Report as abusive

I am an honarably discharged soldier, and have grappled with this for years. What I keep coming back to is:

Why did the framers of the constituion think that the second ammendment was so important as to put it at the top of the list just after the freedom of speech?

The second ammendment is not about hunting, it’s about defense.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Amendment III
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Posted by kevin | Report as abusive

Here is the way it is. When martial law is initiated in late August-early September because there is no saving grace from this planned financial disaster, we will see if it is a replay of New Orleans.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

Remember:
When seconds count, the police are minutes away!

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

You can blame so many people for what happened. The unscrupulous bankers. The greedy borrowers. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1979. Bill Clinton forcing Fannie and Freddie to accept more sub-prime mortgages. DOESN’T MATTER.

What matters is that this current Administration starts thinking of ways to provide an incentive for people to start reinvesting. To start spending money. To start hiring workers. That doesn’t happen until you realize the extent of the housing bubble and the fact that prices haven’t stabilized yet and what that’s done to our credit market. Median Incomes and Median Housing Prices have historical ratios that still haven’t reached equilibrium since 2000 when they went out of whack. Either the Principal falls or the interest rates tumble before people buy again. You can throw trillions of dollars at the problem like Obama has done and it won’t do anything. Unfortunately at this point, throw more money into the market, which is still seized, you’ll cause a tidal wave of credit to eventually hit the market at once which means unaffordable inflation for the lower and middle classes.

People that don’t buy into the Good Speak of this President and his Staff are the ones buying guns. People that know something is amiss are buying guns. People that fear Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder pronouncing he’s going to reinstate the Assault Weapon Ban, permanently, are the ones buying guns. People that have researched what little record this President has know he voted to ban semi-automatic weapons. These are the people buying guns.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case over McCain-Feingold, because of a Hillary Clinton attack movie, and one has to ask themselves, how is it in this country when James Madison warned us against creating a Bill of Rights precisely because Government would then have grounds to define what “is” is, when they have NO RIGHT to regulate our Creator-Endowed-Rights, that we’re having a debate about a political movie and the legality of showing it?! There IS a Government movement to curtail our Liberties, and some people are VERY aware of the fact. Wake up people and liberate yourself from the coming tyranny.

Posted by John R. | Report as abusive

“Would those who feel the desperate need to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, at least acknowledge that until they agree to some reasonable restrictions guaranteeing that their arms do not fall into the wrong hands, there is blood on their hands from the slaughter of the four law enforcement officers in Oakland this week?”

This is as Pollyanish as it gets. There are no guarantees. You can’t have a ‘perfect’ world, free of mistakes, error, and harm. There are NO RESTRICTIONS POSSIBLE that can guarantee what you are asking, not even a repeal of the 2nd Amendment. Criminals will find ways to get guns.

Posted by David Andersen | Report as abusive

Hey TWC
The people with blood on their hands is the parole board that let a dangerous criminal out of prison, not law-abiding gun owners or firearms manufacturers. A typical liberal never blames the person; only an inanimate object which by itself can’t do harm. That parole board should have to answer for their actions. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Oakland policemen that lost their lives because of bleeding heart liberals like yourself.

“When they took the fourth amendment, I was silent because I don’t deal drugs. When they took the sixth amendment, I kept quiet because I know I’m innocent. When they took the second amendment, I said nothing because I don’t own a gun. Now they’ve come for the first amendment, and I can’t say anything at all.”
(Tim Freeman)

Posted by marsneedsh2o | Report as abusive

One of the problems we are dealing with here is (in case you haven’t notice) the President hasn’t always delivered on his promises. And he has a track record of being anti- 2nd Amendment from his days as a law professor.

I’m also buying a gun, just in case.

Posted by bill h | Report as abusive

No David Anderson, I will never agree that I have blood on my hands for gun violence. California has the strictest gun laws in the country and yet a man who isn’t allowed to buy a gun shot 4 cops with an illegal gun in Oakland. I believe you are actually citing proof that gun control doesn’t work. I would say that every time someone dies because they can’t legally defend themselves that blood is on your hands.

Posted by David Brewer | Report as abusive

“If guns made people safe, then Afghanistan and Iraq would be the safest places in the world.”

Rick, are you really incapable of thinking any deeper than that? I hope not. No one with any sense will make this claim, it’s a strawman argument. Guns will make people *safer* and – more importantly – *more free* in the face of criminals, thugs, and tyranny. History is littered with examples of this if you take a little time to investigate.

Posted by David Andersen | Report as abusive

“Would those who feel the desperate need to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, at least acknowledge that until they agree to some reasonable restrictions guaranteeing that their arms do not fall into the wrong hands, there is blood on their hands from the slaughter of the four law enforcement officers in Oakland this week?”

And how would you define “reasonable?” This criminal was convicted of multiple felonies, having a violent and long rap-sheet, who had committed an assault and attempted rape the day prior, and who was already barred from buying, possessing, carrying or using firearms. Your “reasonable restrictions” only serve to make the law abiding into criminals but do not keep criminals from getting guns through theft, fraud or other nefarious means. I can’t imagine, as he was engaged in his life of crime, where he would say to himself, “oh, I’d better not carry a gun. That’s is against the law in Oakland.” Preposterous.

There is no “blood on my hands” for my support of my right to own arms for defense of myself and family. There is only blood on the hands of that scumbag, his family and his criminal associates.

Posted by GuilfordCourthouse1781 | Report as abusive

RE: “Would those who feel the desperate need to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, at least acknowledge that until they agree to some reasonable restrictions guaranteeing that their arms do not fall into the wrong hands, there is blood on their hands from the slaughter of the four law enforcement officers in Oakland this week?”

1) Only a godless Collectivist believes the innocent share in the blame for the crimes of the guilty.

2) You have no clue how many restrictions on firearms already exist.

Therefore, I MUST doubt that you’re a U.S. citizen.

Posted by Bobby | Report as abusive

OOOOHHH NNNNOOO gun companies are making money…..better tax and cap and slam them until all those people are out of work too. We cant have a company that makes products right here in America making money espescially GUNS.PLEASE… BUY MORE GUNS BUY MORE AMMO…the Second Amendment is sacred even to many Dems..Any man not afraid to have me own a gun is a man I trust…those who dont need not be trusted. Every Generation needs a new revolution…WE DO WE START?

Posted by Thomas Jeffesrson | Report as abusive

Most of the guns that are selling are personal defense weapons: pistols, carbines, and ‘black’ shotguns (repeating riot guns). I recently bought a Browning pistol, and had to call three stores before I found any 9mmP ammunition. There is no .380 ACP (what Europe calls 9 millimeter Short) to be found in the USA. .380s are very popular among the ladies. The privatized former armories in Eastern Europe are cranking them out, thank you.
Senator Obama said pro-gun-ownership things during the campaign, but President Obama’s Attorney General has recently said the opposite.
Among the ‘PLU’ (people like us) the assumption is that Pres. Obama’s programs won’t work, Democrats will lose in the 2010 mid-term, and there will be systemic violence for 2 or 3 years. I feel sorry for Obama’s supporters (except for public employee unions), but I will defend my family.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

Hey TWC
The people with blood on their hands is the parole board that let a dangerous criminal out of prison, not law-abiding gun owners or firearms manufacturers. That parole board should have to answer for their actions. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Oakland policemen that lost their lives because of the terribly wrong decision by a parole board. I suggest you look into this problem.

Folks:

I’m a democratic-leaning independent. I’ll admit to having a strong “help thy neighbor” streak and (though you’ll doubt me when I’m done) I’m generally an optimist.

I believe there are forces at play in our society which are much too large for any one person to control. In fact, our society is already seriously fraying around the edges. Unless something radical happens soon, I’m not sure there will be any stopping the path we’re on.

Having gotten married last year, I began to feel that, at any moment, I might be called upon to protect someone beyond myself. (I know, a dated view steeped in small-minded gender biases, but that’s how I was raised. Sorry.)

We live in a nice suburb, but immediately to the North is a realtively poor area. If things unravel, the pent-up anger, hunger, need, violence, and desperation will spill South.

Earlier this year, I applied for my gun permit. I haven’t purchased one yet.

Once I do, I sincerely hope never to have to use it. But believe me, if worse comes to worst and all manner of diplomacy won’t cut it, I’ll have no compunction defending my wife and our home.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

Sakes alive, nothing like a column about guns and anger to bring out the angry gun people in force.

Posted by Steph in VA | Report as abusive

Something the NRA knows very well is Chairman Mao’s statement, “political power comes out of the barrel of a gun.” I wonder if the NRA would be willing to acknowledge the pedigree of this tenet of their purpose?

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Hey TWC
The people with blood on their hands are the people who are responsible for letting a violent and dangerous criminal out of prison, not law-abiding gun owners or firearms manufacturers. The recidivism rate for these people is high, they almost always commit more violent crimes. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Oakland policemen that lost their lives. They were let down by the very system they tried to protect. This is not a gun issue, this is a parole issue.

I am with ya Ken… I am a peace loving help your neighbor and build a community…I lived in a similar edged suburb in Atlanta… When New Years Eve brought out my neighbors to the south… at midnight… we were divin’ under the bed… sub machine guns… big bangs… we knew they had been drinking… but as it came to who’s got the biggest baddest gun that night… I packed my bags… with the pending economy and current climate in the city… I left and moved to the mountains… still gunless… but the bears up here are pretty friendly in comparison…

Posted by Connie | Report as abusive

Personally I’m investing in Ammo, Power, Primers, and Brass. It’s going up far faster then any other investment. Obama really is generating business growth isn’t he! Sarcasm Off/

Posted by TTTCOTTH | Report as abusive

I grew up in the 1950s. We were a proud but humble country back then. We were admired as a nation, we were optimistic, we knew our neighbors, and we helped our neighbors. Almost no one felt the need for a gun for protection.

50 years later we hate each other. The Republicans seized power by exploiting our differences. They sowed the seeds of hate and those seeds have matured into a permanent state of hatred.

I’m a U.S. citizen, my family has been in this country since 1738. I’m a veteran. I love my country, but because I am a liberal I have been called every ugly name possible (like unAmerican, traitor, communist) by the right wing hate freaks like Coulter, Limbaugh and O’Reilly. I’m sick of it and I now probably hate the right every bit as much as they’ve hated me for a decade or so. Isn’t this just great?

So, by all means, America, arm yourselves for the final fight. Buy those guns and have them ready for the day you snap, because that’s the kind of country we have become: too lazy (or stupid) and too cowardly to try to fix whats wrong. It’s easier to arm yourself because what could be more satisfying than blowing away a fellow American?

I feel sorry for any politician who tries to fix this mess because the Rush Limbaughs want failure and the Glenn Becks want revolution and the pliable idiots will all comply.

Yes, buy your guns, dozens and dozens of guns because violence is the answer to everything (well, that and tax cuts). As for me, I know the way to Canada. The day the average American has to arm himself to survive is the final day of what was once a smart, confident nation. Evidently that day is on the horizon and the NRA couldn’t be happier.

Posted by Disgusted | Report as abusive

Small, medium and large industries are hurting from over-regulation burdening their respective companies, apart from the financial sector which has lavishly been given de-regulation after de-regulation AND poor oversight. There is no mistake that the issue is of great urgency (the state of California is a prime example of what not to do) but certain key factions don’t want to open their eyes and see it. (Sarcasm ON)Perhaps if we all cut our carbon emmissions the world will magically have more jobs available and the wildlife will thanks us like it did Snow White in the Disney movie. (Sarcasm OFF)

Perhaps the return to a bucolic country, where the major wealth resides solely on organically grown produce and eco-tourism might appease some people, at last (no sarcasm).

Posted by In reply to | Report as abusive

Wow, there are a lot of people that have the completely wrong idea about why so many Americans were buying up guns right around the election. Do your homework folks, Mr. Clinton and his gun ban probably made the biggest impact. As soon as Obama took office everyone went out and purchased the guns that they wanted…probably because they will be banned pretty soon…that’s what democrats do. They like to run average citizens lives, and like to do it they’re way. “Disgusted” seemed to have a really warped idea on what the average American gun owner is like. Just to let you know Mr. or Mrs. Disgusted I am a gun owner and I have a carry permit(not that I’ve ever used it) but I’m not a raging lunatic hell-bent on starting a civil war. If you met me I’m willing to bet that you’d think I’m a pretty nice guy and I bet you’d want me to come over and play with all 27 cat’s you probably store in your tiny 1 bedroom apartment.
To all the anti-gun nuts ranting on every forum and blog on the internet I just want to say thanks! You provide people just like me with endless entertainment! Yes we have guns, we have ammo, we’re frightening aren’t we!!??
We also have husbands and wives and children and family and friends that we cherish more than anything in the world.
Civil unrest in the United States of America will never be started by honest, sincere people like me (that own guns…oohhh!) We’ll simply be the ones defending ourselves and our loved ones by crazed dementia patients such as your self Mr. Disgusted!
I’m not asking you or people like you to go out and buy a gun I’m just simply asking you and people like you to respect the fact that I HAVE THE RIGHT TO, just like YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH!

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

People like Disgusted are the ones that scare me. How can anyone be so willfully ignorant?

Posted by Craig | Report as abusive

I am a Brit and think the violence in the US is more complex than whether people have the right to have guns or not. Forgive me if I am wrong – but a question to the gun control crowd – but don’t many Canadians own guns? If they do their crime level is very low compared to the US. Also here in the UK we do not have households with guns – but we have very high levels of crime and knife crime in particular – but even gun crime is on the rise – because the gangs can get them even if ordinary citizens cannot.
In many European countries it is okay to have guns – in fact in many scandinavian countries most households have a shotgun. These countries have a very low crime rate.

Now for the reason I think there is such a difference. America and Britain are very similar in many ways – they are both (for developed nations) very unnequal nations. The gap between the rich and the poor is huge in both countries. In the US 1% of the population control over 80% of the wealth. That cannot be good for any society – and certainly does not help the economy (those super billionaires do not spend it all – how could they – so effectively billions of dollars are taken out of circulation). In Britain we have similar situation – a very unequal country – but at least in Britain we have free healthcare and all citizens get a basic amount to live on. It is really small but it means they do not starve. Our healthcare system is great – it works well. I go to my doctors – it is a lovely building with about seven doctors and I can just ring and get an appointment when i want. I can also go private if I wish to so I do not have to use the free health care. But in many ways Britain is becoming more and more like the US – cutting the benefits system and running down the NHS. In Europe however they have excellent healthcare – brilliant benefits so no one has to starve or live in tents etc. I always notice when I go to Brussels or Paris or Holland – how clean it is – how safe it feels and how well most people look. Something I also notice in Canada.
Now I love the US – I have visited many times California, Florida, Carolina, New York etc – and I do not think guns are the issue. But I do think the fact that the words most developed nation has tent cities – where people are homeless and unable to even eat is totally and utterly shocking. You cannot have a peaceful society when there are so many have nots – and when so many people could become a have not due to the bad luck of losing their job or becoming ill.
I think both Americans and us Brits have to admit that our Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism has blown up in our faces and is not working. We need a new model and by trying to fix the old one and not realising what needs doing I am really afraid that a country such as China will end up being the world superpower in about ten years time. NOt good!

Posted by crackersan | Report as abusive

Boy! The topic of guns really obscures the scariest topic in this article: social unrest. I’ve seen precious little reasoned debate in the comments about the potential for social unrest in this country. Arguing about guns is just spitting in the wind.

Yes, of course arms will figure heavily in any social unrest, but what will be the tipping point? What are the factors that could cause widespread unrest and violence? Where will the likely flash points be? Who can envision the scenarios? Is anyone preparing for violent outbursts (other than flight or arming ourselves to the teeth?) If it comes to a civil war (which would likely pit those-who-have vs. those-who-have-not) does it matter who has guns? I suspect that whether you own firearms or not will ultimately be immaterial. Survival will require more skills than a firearm. (Though, I do acknowledge the role firearms will play in any scenario.)

Come on people! Put your brainpower to work on solving the real problems. The 2nd Amendment debate is specious. No one is going to take away our guns.

Posted by U.N.C.L.E. | Report as abusive

>>>Tent cities for the homeless have expanded outside a string of American cities, from Sacramento and Phoenix to Atlanta and Seattle, for people who are living the American dream in reverse. First they lose their jobs, then their health insurance, then their homes, then their hopes. The encampments are reminiscent of Third World refugee camps.<<<

Got pictures? I think you are grossly exaggerating the negatives, but that’s most likely a direct order from the most totally negative new service ever created. REUTERS.

Posted by aliveweb | Report as abusive

AMMO—–lots and lots of ammo! Thats what I need.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

No one need worry about legal gun purchases. Now, if you were saying that ILLEGAL gun purchases were dramatically higher, the we should worry.

And the myth about countless tent cities is just that – myth.

Posted by Stephen | Report as abusive

Mike:
I don’t think anyone is saying there aren’t decent people who own guns; the problem is there are a lot of people owning guns who are not decent people. For these people, guns end up having an increasingly negative effect as they become an answer or a fallback to supposed problems. I imagine gun ownership also plays a part in overall fear generation, which for certain people could be amplified to a point where they act out in a potentially (and perhaps uncharacteristically) violent way.

I think Crackersan is getting more to the issue. We have monetary and social gaps that have a lot to do with this and a culture that has celebrated certain ideals which have left holes in our system and gaps between us as people.

Posted by s7 | Report as abusive

People like Craig are the ones who scare me.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Nice post “Disgusted”, you’re dead on, I mean back in the 1950′s no one hated blacks, no one hated asian americans it was like being in Candyland where the clouds are made of cotton candy and every road is called gumdrop lane. What what changes have been made.

This is why I wonder why people won’t let their generation take responsibility and prefer to blame it on everyone else. It’s the baby boomers who introduced all the deadly drugs to this country, it’s the baby boomers who made war first diplomacy second an ok tactic, it’s the baby boomers who voted in political monsters like Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama for the most part yet nothing it’s their fault, it’s always the young people.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

We all sit around and hope for the best, desire everything under the sun, look at others who do not and think poorly of them. I had a neighber ask to purchase some property of mine for use by his horses. I told him to use it as long as he wanted, Offered to put it in writing, do care if I get sued, and he still hasnt taken me up on it. Their is no faith in our fellow man, because we do not police ourselves. Want the drug wars in Mexico to stop, Turn in your pot smoking buddy. Want the economy to get better, buy something American Made Like a gun. every American should be a responsible gun owner. And every American needs to run for politics. Police your Neighbors shoot the Lawyers, and make the world around you the best it can be. How many people know someone who is losing there home and have offered no assistance because it is not there problem? How many homes have been abandoned only because the owner does not see a profit coming. How can we walk away being able to afford a home without facing real reprocusion.
Buy a Gun today or learn to speak Russian and Chinese tomorrow. But take the time to truly know how to use it. And purchase gun locks and ammunition lockable cases.

Posted by American | Report as abusive

for those who hate guns and gun owners, you need to realize that a gun never killed anyone. I have several guns and for 50 years they have sat here in my house, and not one person/human/animal/alien/tree/bush/you name it~ was ever killed by one of my guns.

people kill people, humans kill humans, animals kill other animals, humans kill animals, animals kill humans, animals kill people.

take guns away and people will start killing with knives. take knives away and we will kill each other with sticks, take sticks away and we will kill each other with rocks, take rocks away and we will kill each other with our bare hands.

Face it! It’s in our nature to destroy ourselves, guns or not. A gun is nothing but metal parts, perhaps some plastic or wood.

More people die by cars than guns. Let us ban cars/trucks.

Use some common sense for a change. The human race is and has been killing, conquering and ruling other humans since the day the first human walked this earth.
Until the last human dies nothing will change.

If every human perished today, and next week two more humans were introduced to the planet it would not be long before one would kill the other.

When it comes right down to it, every one of us would kill another human to survive.

guns only make it easier to survive, that’s all. Take em away and I’ll use a knife to survive. Take the knife away and I will use a baseball bat to survive.
take that away and I will use a rock to survive.
Get it?

Posted by BobM | Report as abusive

Someone earlier blamed the republicans for all of the hate in america. That is a lot of B.S.! People on both sides have created it and a lot of it stems from greed and jealousy. A lot of these young kids, blacks and whites both have grown up in the last generation where the parents lived off of welfare and exploited the system to get free money and not having to work. The hollywood liberals like Clooney, Jolie, DeNiro,Pitt, Penn,just to name a few of the most liberal, have produced and acted in movies that depict killing with guns as fun and cool and are the biggest hippocrites in the country. They do this and then have the gall to want to ban guns. Their movies should be banned everywhere in america. Things that people knew back in the 40′s, were that yes another country can attack us on our own turf and no, there are no free lunches, you have to earn a living. They had higher moral standards, there were no movies with nudity or indiscriminite killing and torture on tv. The young blacks these days all want to be “gangsta’s” and the young whites think it is cool so they want to be like them.
The only easy way they see to get this lifestyle is through force and intitmidation and they have to steal and deal drugs to finance their own little wars in the US.When you change that way of thinking,then maybe you will start to see a change in gun violence, but until then all law abiding gun owners need to protect their right to own guns and ammo. The democrats intend to take both away from you, they are the ones who are the problem.

This is an interesting one. Regarding the gun issue, I have nothing against guns being owned for sporting purposes, but as far as “anti-personnel” weapons (which of course include Smith & Wessons designed to blow the average person’s head off and not to shoot deer) we would all do well to remember what Homer said: “The blade itself incites to violence”. We don’t carry swords any more (at least outside Glasgow) and we shouldn’t carry guns or have them readily available for the same reason.

The magic words in the rest of the article are: “In housing alone, more than $5 trillion has vanished”. Hooray, finally somebody has twigged. The money hasn’t gone anywhere, it wasn’t stolen by naughty bankers. Asset values are not worth the paper they’re written on (and incidentally why has nobody blamed accountants for this mess yet?) until you receive the money in your hot little hands, and anyone lending on the basis of asset values, or borrowing for that matter, would do well to remember it. House prices can go down as well as up. You may not get back the money you invested. House purchase may not be suitable for everyone, etc. etc.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

BobM –

You seem to be missing a crucial point about the use of guns in your brilliantly broad and unsubstantiated statements. Shooting a gun at someone is far easier than beating someone to death with your bare hands.

A decision to end a life with a gun can be made far too easily but to continue to beat the life out of a human being with just your fists requires some perseverance (I imagine!).

I don’t hate guns or gun owners but I dislike the apathy that surrounds gun control.

You demand that we “use some common sense for a change”. Would you care to start the ball rolling?

Posted by Edward | Report as abusive

This blog was written by a man who has no concept of American culture or human nature, much less a grasp of journalistic principals.

First of all, he’s basing his anti-gun opinion on two anti-gun sources — NPR and a Washington Post COLUMNIST who is paid to spew vitriol, not report the “news.” Boom Boom, credibility is shot.

Second, Scapegoat much? There is neither logic nor evidence to back up stupid conjecture that Americans are buying guns because of an ailing economy or fear of some economically disadvantaged and violent “other.” That’s sheer racist scapegoating on the part of an anti-gun, anti-American, anti-Civil Liberties, anti-Constitution left wing.

People are buying guns for the simple reason that Obama has installed the most socialistic, big-government, repressive, anti-libertarian government America has ever seen. We fear that our CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED RIGHT to own a firearm will be stripped from us by our increasingly repressive government.

Seriously, if people were worried about the economy, they would spend money on food and fuel. Guns don’t pay the bills, except for the criminals that would benefit from the stripping of our rights to legally own firearms.

The author of this blog isn’t even a credible debater. At the least, he should present both sides so he could attempt to counter the valid arguments against his position. But in his anti-gun and anti-American glee to portray Americans as violent, fearful and desperate, he doesn’t even mention that both Obama and Clinton have gone on record both before and after the election as supporting FURTHER RESTRICTIONS on gun ownership, this despite the Supreme Court’s validation of private gun ownership rights in 2008.

Posted by Todd Foltz | Report as abusive

The right to keep and bear arms is a specifically- enumerated-right. Remember those three words. Like air and water, human beings have a right to be able to defend themselves. With firearms, knives, a hoe, etc. Only convicted felons and the mentally incompetent are excluded from this right.
I think the biggest issue today is the “entitlement generation”. People from all over have become expectant that – without working for it – they should get the best that democracy has to offer. And when they don’t get it, they get angry and lash out, sometimes with deadly effect.
One big issue for the common person is fear of getting caught between the uprising of the drug fueled, I-don’t-accept-responsibility-for-my-own -actions types, and the increasingly socialist government that is sooner or later going to use the standing military to keep them selves in power. Joe and Jane Doe are caught in between, and it is up to them, and every other person individually, to defend themselves.
Anyone that thinks the government is responsible for defending you needs to look into the “no duty to protect” laws in force all over the nation.
And for those parents who are raising “entitlement” type children, look in the mirror. There you will find the ultimate cause of what the younger generation has become.

Posted by Dennis | Report as abusive

I am pro-gun, anti-Obama, and generally anti-republican and anti-democrat.

I agree, its actually amazing there aren’t large scale riots. I think the difference is in America, most people do not like aimless riots. There are many riots in America though, like the Oakland riots, which actually do not register high in America’s conciousness because black riots are so common.

I don’t own a gun to kill people. I own a gun to keep from being killed. I don’t own a gun because I’m paranoid. I own a gun because there are
real threats in the world. I don’t own a gun because I’m evil. I own a gun because I have lived long
enough to see the evil in the world.
I don’t own a gun because I hate the government. I own a gun because I understand the limitations of government.
I don’t own a gun because I’m angry. I own a gun so that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared. I don’t own a gun because I want to shoot someone. I own a gun because
I want to die at a ripe old age in my bed, and not on a sidewalk somewhere tomorrow afternoon.
I don’t own a gun to make me feel like a man. I own a gun because men know how to take care of themselves and the ones they love. I don’t own a gun because I feel inadequate. I own a gun because unarmed and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate. I don’t own a gun because I love it. I own a gun because I love life and the people who make it meaningful to me.

Police Protection is an oxymoron. Free citizens must protect themselves. Police do not protect you from crime, they usually just investigate the crime after it happens and then call someone in to clean up the mess.
I own a gun. And I know how and when to use it.

Posted by Geoff Morris | Report as abusive

You hit some good points in the article. Funny thing is that you cannot purchase bullets if you tried. Go online and check wholesale retailers. Some places stopped taking back orders. You may can pick up quality hunting ammo for 15 bucks 20 shots. Who wants to spend that kind of coin for target pratice? There are going to be a million guns floating around with no bullets to fire.

Posted by Slickboobah | Report as abusive

A very interesting article with a very worrying theme. Being British I can’t comment on the whole ethos of owning firearms( you cannot own semi and fully automatic weapons here ), but obviously if criminal elements own guns it’s natural to want one to counter that threat. We have some of the most strict gun laws in the world, but still hardly a week goes by without somebody being gunned down in the street. Clamping down on legal gun sales makes no difference because there will always be a healthy black market. In England you can buy S&W’s,Berettas,AK47s and pretty much anything you like if you know the right people.
The genie’s out of the bottle and it’s too late to put the stopper back.

Just a quick thought for the author:

Don’t you think that the huge increase in gun and ammunition purchases might be tied to the fact that many gun owners (or people who are considering becoming gun owners) are greatly concerned that the current government is radically anti-gun and will make it the next best thing to impossible to buy guns. People aren’t buying guns in a hurry because they’re depressed, angry, or scared of the current situation, They’re doing it because they’re afraid that if they wait, they won’t be able to do it later if they need to.

Posted by halfbear | Report as abusive

I lived in California for the last 35 yrs of my life. In the inner city, guns go hand in hand with growing up. Either you’re using it to get your way or respect, or its being pointed at you, loved one or bystander near you. Guns are a part of an American’s heritage but that cowboy story is ancient history. I just bought an S&W sig .40cal handgun for my first gun purchase. I’ve practiced many times with friends in the desert and in gun ranges but didn’t own until now. Dear Uncle Sam is on life support. The good citizens have continous gun law restrictions put on them each year in an attempt to punish the criminals with guns and lower good citizen ownership. But what criminal buys a gun in a gun shop legally? So we buy pea-shooters to defend ourselves while the criminals get the assault rifles and MGs underground. Our rights are slowly diminishing thanks to the homeland security policies Bush has implemented. Our right to exercise freedom of speech can get us thrown in detainment centers they now have set for so called convicted terrorist or illegal immigrant migration into the US.By the time we notice all the constitutional violations our former and new administration has committed the dollar will completely fail, and the NWO will arrive. If Americans riot their city over a NBA championship game, imagine what will happen when the banks fold, mass unemployment, major retail stores and supermarkets fail and the law enforement gets pulled back out of our city to let us destroy each other before martial law kicks in. “The man with the gun will make the rules on the streets.” I won’t put my faith in a gun to save me cause I have invested my eternal life to a Saviour who prophecied all of these things to come to pass…good day gentlemen outside the US, and Godspeed

Since 1998 (maybe sooner, I don’t know), a noticeable proliferation of violence on TV occurred, in my view. There were less shows focused in other aspects of human life; the most admired shows often show-cased brutality, even if ‘the good guys’ won in the end. Whether profit was the motive for proliferation, as these shows might be quicker and easier to write and produce; or, whether a change in public taste came first, I do not know. But, now, I believe, a general public taste for viewing violence and speaking in cruel, brutal terms has developed.

Hallmark channel is producing new movies which focus on peaceful resolution of family conflicts, and these movies are well-done and seem very popular among many people I know; we turned with relief and pleasure to these hopeful, yet honest films. There must be other channels doing the same thing. But, too many Americans in crisis are choosing to make a violent ‘end’ to their difficulties. This month alone, in the U.S. there have been more than 50 deaths from such choices, according to the press.

Hopefully, we as a people will generally continue to choose non-violent, constructive responses and solutions out of our very difficult circumstances. On April 15th, there will be a series of ‘Tea Parties’ across the country to express opposition to the direction the country is now taking. I am proud of these Americans for choosing this non-violent, organized way to focus and channel their frustrated energies and promote their visions and goals for our country.

Posted by Shirley Freeman | Report as abusive