Michael Bloomberg and America’s guns

By Bernd Debusmann
August 13, 2009

Bernd Debusmann— Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions are his own —

New York’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is stepping in where President Barack Obama fears to tread — confronting America’s powerful gun lobby. In the country that holds a commanding global lead in civilian gun ownership, it promises to be a hard fight.

No matter how it goes, America’s position at the top of the list of gun-owning nations looks secure. Up to 280 million guns are estimated to be in private hands and the arsenal is growing year by year. On a guns-per-capita basis, the United States (90 guns per 100 residents) is way ahead of second-ranked Yemen (61 per 100), according to the authoritative Small Arms Survey issued by the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

Obama has been a sore disappointment for advocates of tighter gun controls, and a boon to gun manufacturers and dealers. Predictions that his administration would swiftly work towards greater restrictions helped spark a huge run on firearms after his election. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the country’s biggest gun lobby, said its members reported widespread shortages of ammunition.

Supply and demand are back in balance and those who rushed to stock up need not have feared an Obama assault on gun ownership. The president has shown no eagerness for stepping into the political minefield of gun legislation. On the contrary. Obama rowed back in haste after his attorney general, Eric Holder, prompted alarm among gun lovers by saying he wanted to reinstate a ban on assault weapons that was allowed to lapse under the Bush administration.

There are no signs either that Obama intends to fulfil campaign pledges on other hot-button gun legislation issues such as closing the so-called gun show loophole that allows private citizen-to-citizen sales without background checks, or the Tiahrt amendment, which limits disclosing information on the sale of guns used in crimes.

Josh Sugarmann, head of the Washington-based Violence Policy Center, a group advocating tighter controls, describes Obama’s attitude so far as “deeply disheartening” and says the president broke campaign promises on gun legislation.

Why? History provides an explanation: the last time the United States had a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the party aggressively pushed gun control legislation and suffered crushing defeats at the polls, in part thanks to opposition stirred by the NRA. The Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 and held it until 2006.

Enter mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York, a city where he is popular and guns are not. In 2006, Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino formed Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), a group that wants to make it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on guns. MAIG’s growth has been explosive: from 15 in 2006 to 250 in 2007 to 451 now.

BATTLE OF GIANTS

That makes, as a headline in the Washington Post put it, for “a battle of goliaths” pitting Bloomberg and his group against the NRA, whose four million members tend to see restrictions such as unregulated sales from private citizens (through the gun show loophole) as an assault on the U.S. constitution’s second amendment.

It says: “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.” Exactly what that means (arms for militia members? for individuals?) was one of the most passionately disputed legal questions in the United States for decades until the Supreme Court last year ruled that it gave individual Americans the right to bear arms. The court also allowed for some restrictions on gun ownership.

In July, the U.S. Senate defeated a measure, introduced by a Republican Senator, John Thune, that would have allowed licensed gun owners to carry hidden, loaded weapons from states with weak gun laws to states with tough ones. The proposal failed largely because of energetic lobbying by Bloomberg’s mayors. It was a rare setback for the NRA and Bloomberg made clear he would remain on the offensive.

“If you want to beat the NRA,” he said on a television show this week, “you have to go out and get your message out. And it costs money to do that … You know, the NRA doesn’t spend that much money. If you look at what the real numbers are, I think that we can pull together here and raise enough money.”

Bloomberg has spent almost $3 million of his own money (Forbes estimates his personal fortune at $16 billion) on the mayor’s group. The NRA’s annual budget is around $200 million.

For Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s Executive Vice President and CEO, talk about money is beside the point. “Bloomberg is clearly out of step with the majority of Americans,” he said in an interview. “Our membership has been increasing by 40,000 to 50,000 a month since the middle of last year. We hope to reach five million before too long.”

LaPierre is confident that the NRA will prevail in future legislative wrangling, not least because “there has been a sea change in the center of the Democratic Party.” Ironically, the vote that defeated the Thune amendment gives backing to that view. The bill required 60 votes to pass. It fell short by two. Of the 58 votes in favor, 20 were from Democrats. (Editing by Kieran Murray)

160 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

40 Reasons to Support Gun Control
(Apparently derived from the essay by Michael Z. Williamson.)

1. Banning guns works, which is why New York, DC, and Chicago cops need guns.
2. Washington DC’s low murder rate of 80.6 per 100,000 is due to strict gun control, and Arlington, VA’s high murder rate of 1.6 per 100,000 is due to the lack of gun control.
3. Statistics showing high murder rates justify gun control but statistics showing increasing murder rates after gun control are “just statistics.”
4. The Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban, both of which went into effect in 1994, are responsible for the decrease in violent crime rates, which have been declining since 1991.
5. We must get rid of guns because a deranged lunatic may go on a shooting spree at any time and anyone who would own a gun out of fear of such a lunatic is paranoid.
6. The more helpless you are the safer you are from criminals.
7. An intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or oven spray, but if shot with a .357 Magnum will get angry and kill you.
8. A woman raped and strangled is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet.
9. When confronted by violent criminals, you should “put up no defense — give them what they want, or run” (Handgun Control Inc. Chairman Pete Shields, Guns Don’t Die – People Do, 1981, p. 125).
10. The New England Journal of Medicine is filled with expert advice about guns; just like Guns and Ammo has some excellent treatises on heart surgery.
11. One should consult an automotive engineer for safer seatbelts, a civil engineer for a better bridge, a surgeon for spinal paralysis, a computer programmer for Y2K problems, and Sarah Brady [or Sheena Duncan, Adele Kirsten, Peter Storey, etc.] for firearms expertise.
12. The 2nd Amendment, ratified in 1791, refers to the National Guard, which was created by an act of Congress in 1903.
13. The National Guard, funded by the federal government, occupying property leased to the federal government, using weapons owned by the federal government, punishing trespassers under federal law, is a state militia.
14. These phrases,” right of the people peaceably to assemble,” “right of the people to be secure in their homes,” “enumeration’s herein of certain rights shall not be construed to disparage others retained by the people,” and “The powers not delegated herein are reserved to the states respectively, and to the people,” all refer to individuals, but “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” refers to the state.
15. We don’t need guns against an oppressive government, because the Constitution has internal safeguards, but we should ban and seize all guns, thereby violating the 2nd, 4th, and 5th amendments to that Constitution.
16. Rifles and handguns aren’t necessary to national defense, which is why the army has millions of them.
17. Private citizens shouldn’t have handguns, because they serve no military purpose, and private citizens shouldn’t have “assault rifles,” because they are military weapons.
18. The ready availability of guns today, with waiting periods, background checks, fingerprinting, government forms, et cetera, is responsible for recent school shootings,compared to the lack of school shootings in the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s, which resulted from the availability of guns at hardware stores, surplus stores, gas stations, variety stores, mail order, et cetera.
19. The NRA’s attempt to run a “don’t touch” campaign about kids handling guns is propaganda, and the anti-gun lobby’s attempt to run a “don’t touch” campaign is responsible social activity.
20. Guns are so complex that special training is necessary to use them properly, and so simple to use that they make murder easy.
21. A handgun, with up to 4 controls, is far too complex for the typical adult to learn to use, as opposed to an automobile that only has 20.
22. Women are just as intelligent and capable as men but a woman with a gun is “an accident waiting to happen” and gun makers’ advertisements aimed at women are “preying on their fears.”
23. Ordinary people in the presence of guns turn into slaughtering butchers but revert to normal when the weapon is removed.
24. Guns cause violence, which is why there are so many mass killings at gun shows.
25. A majority of the population supports gun control, just like a majority of the population supported owning slaves.
26. A self-loading small arm can legitimately be considered to be a “weapon of mass destruction” or an “assault weapon.”
27. Most people can’t be trusted, so we should have laws against guns, which most people will abide by because they can be trusted.
28. The right of online pornographers to exist cannot be questioned because it is constitutionally protected by the Bill of Rights, but the use of handguns for self defense is not really protected by the Bill of Rights.
29. Free speech entitles one to own newspapers, transmitters, computers, and typewriters, but self-defense only justifies bare hands.
30. The ACLU is good because it uncompromisingly defends certain parts of the Constitution, and the NRA is bad, because it defends other parts of the Constitution.
31. Charlton Heston as president of the NRA is a shill who should be ignored, but Michael Douglas as a representative of Handgun Control, Inc. is an ambassador for peace who is entitled to an audience at the UN arms control summit.
32. Police operate with backup within groups, which is why they need larger capacity pistol magazines than do “civilians” who must face criminals alone and therefore need less ammunition.
33. We should ban “Saturday Night Specials” and other inexpensive guns because it’s not fair that poor people have access to guns too.
34. Police officers, who qualify with their duty weapons once or twice a year, have some special Jedi-like mastery over handguns that private citizens can never hope to obtain.
35. Private citizens don’t need a gun for self-protection because the police are there to protect them even though the Supreme Court says the police are not responsible for their protection.
36. Citizens don’t need to carry a gun for personal protection but police chiefs, who are desk-bound administrators who work in a building filled with cops, need a gun.
37. “Assault weapons” have no purpose other than to kill large numbers of people, which is why the police need them but “civilians” do not.
38. When Microsoft pressures its distributors to give Microsoft preferential promotion, that’s bad; but when the Federal government pressures cities to buy guns only from Smith & Wesson, that’s good.
39. Trigger locks do not interfere with the ability to use a gun for defensive purposes, which is why you see police officers with one on their duty weapon.
40. When Handgun Control, Inc., says they want to “keep guns out of the wrong hands,” they don’t mean you. Really.

Posted by Carol Winters | Report as abusive

To Michael Ham,

Agreed. And the Drug War is another conundrum.

But the subject of Gun Control…someone mentioned poverty and in my opinion, the huge disparity between rich and poor creates some of this violence.

But to change the American model, would mean more taxes to even this disparity. A popular idea in the States now. But, again, to change the American model, would mean more taxes, less disparity, but less income for all Americans, more for the government, and America will no longer be the world buyer of stuff. Like crap from the U.K. And all that crap at Walmart, too.

The U.S. drives the world economy. Is this a false statement??

Gun control = A disarmed populace = More taxes = Less purchasing power for Americans = Less British crap sold = Smug Europeans taking less vacations.

Its all related…

And all this happened in Canada already.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Also in simplified form,

Guns = Freedom = Freedom of speech = Morons like Carol Winters (espousing not even her own opinion but M.Z. Williamson’s flawed logic) having the freedom to discuss her diatribe.

Well, hmm… people say. I live in Europe and I have freedom of speech, too. And yes, thanks to America.

America is the last domino standing.

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Jim – you know what they say about guys who need big guns or big cars?

And you’re comment about mops and buckets might get the cleaning staff a little worked up if you dare get near any of them again.

You’re still an ass and I think it’s still growing. Too bad the same thing can’t be said about the other side.

I also think you have a big problem with psychological Projection. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree and happen to be self employed. I was moonlighting, you arrogant joke. I really hope police departments aren’t full of jerks like you.

Posted by Paul Rosa | Report as abusive

Drew–
Please extend the courtesy of refraining from disparaging remarks that are not only irrelevant (ad hominem), but demonstrate the type of courage found only either in front of a computer screen or out of earshot of those who would otherwise take offense; I doubt very much that you would be so inclined to refer to someone as a moron if he or she had opportunity to punch you in the mouth. Though we may fervently disagree, let all of us embrace the advice of the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut and “be kind”. And having taught formal logic for 27 years, I do agree that Williamson does indeed stumble over a few fallacies here and there, but the spirit of his argument outlining the absurd contradictions and emotional appeals that often result in disastrous prohibitions I think makes a good point: People generally choose sides with less than all the facts, and are incapable of empathizing with those who disagree. This condition, unfortunately, has preceded most wars.

Posted by Carol Winters | Report as abusive

Carol Winters & Drew

I seem to be misreading this, but the article Carol posted looks to me like a piece written to sarcastically highlight the discrepancies between gun control fact and theory. In fact to me it seems rabidly pro-unregulated gun ownership. Not quite sure why Drew is so upset by it therefore.

John,

I agree the cultural melting pot idea should promote greater tolerance and understanding, and over a longer period of time, given that there are no exceptional additional factors, does help with assimilation. A good example from the UK is the curry. Indian immigrants have been in the UK from the days of the Empire, and yet only 30-40 years ago a curry was still seen as something outside the norm. Now curry is officially the UK’s favourite take out food, and (I think) also in the top 5 for home cooked meals. It has been assimilated to the extent that we no longer see it as foreign.

On the subject of democratic Government, the UK led the field on this one, of course. The Magna Carta in 1215 was the first document to enshrine in law control of the monarchy by an elected body, and in the same century we had the first elected Parliament. By the 1600′s we had the elected Parliament as the main ruling body, with the Monarchy increasingly sidelined to the current point where the Monarchy is merely a symbolic office with no practical power to influence policy. Government by the people since the 1600′s at least therefore.

I think the jist of your post though, if you will allow me to summarise for you, is that this is a domestic matter for the US, which has no impact on the legislation or practice of other nations. I think that you are absolutely right that, so long as there are sufficient controls to ensure American visitors are unable to carry these weapons across international borders, then the decision on what the US does is for the US to decide. However, I completely disagree with any suggestion that this means that individuals cannot contribute to the debate. Indeed, given the diverse experience of contributors from around the world I think their contribution can only encourage intelligent and balanced debate within your borders. The key bit is intelligent and balanced, of course. Whilst, as I have mentioned several times, the more extreme posts by some US citizens here and elsewhere only reinforce global prejudice against the US, equally others have used it for a bit of “Yank bashing”. Neither is fair, rational or helpful. Like you I have no idea what the metric system or oil wars have to do with gun control, but equally I am mystified what Jaguar cars and number plate scanners have to do with anything much at all! (Then again, this from someone who has just worked curries into a debate on gun control!).

I think that Most US citizens are proud of their Constitution and, likewise, I am equally proud that my country does not have one; these are wholly opposing positions, but also entirely justifiable and crucially, neither stance is an attack on or threat to the other.

Final couple of points, one of which also ties into John’s thoughts on national identity.

I had stopped looking at Drew’s postings, but noticed on reading back the comments a couple which had returned to gun control of a fashion, contained comments which I felt I had to respond on
“…But seriously, I heard a statistic (take them or leave them) but I heard that of the 1800 murders in NYC in one year, 1700 of these are so called black-on-black shootings. A term the news uses…

And in Toronto, a lot of these gun killings are done by young black men. This is an observation. America is a mix of cultures, and so is Canada, but not the U.K. or Europe.
So there are some bad apples. But why punish the good apples? Its easy to ban everything. I live in liberal Ontario, so I know all about bans. Bans are easy to do and require ‘little thought’.
But anyone from the U.K. cannot have a ’sensible’ discussion on gun control because your country is mostly white folks going to the pub…”

The UK (indeed, Europe as a whole) can best be described as the archetypal melting pot. Immigration and cross border migration has been a feature of the continent for thousands of years. There are numerous nations in Europe where there are several national languages due to this.

London is one of the most ethnically diverse capital cities in the world with over half the population being non-white/non-European. It is certainly true that ethnic groups tend to congregate in urban areas, at least during the initial few generations of integration, but to suggest that this country is “…white folks going to the pub…” is nonsense.

I appreciate though that all US citizens, with the exception of the 3 million or so Native Americans are in effect immigrants. In fact it is one of those American quirks that is often commented on by other nationals that so many, American citizens born and bred for many generations back, still seem to firstly associate themselves with another country to which they have no personal connection and in many instances have never visited or indeed living relatives who have been there. Perhaps the melting pot idea is promoted by this, in some part at least

I don’t really understand the earlier point about “black-on-black” violence and would not comment on it, other than to say that the very use of the term is an appalling example of institutional racism, if as the post implies it is in common use in the US press and other media. I am sure Drew did not mean to suggest that “blacks” are bad apples, but it appears to me to suggest that there is a scale of importance based on skin tone, and by quoting it as a mollifying factor concerning the Washington murder rate, implies that the overall figure is not really as bad as it seems as, 1700 are “only” black-on-black.

Posted by pete | Report as abusive

To Carol Winter,

I would be happy to discuss Gun Control to any mental midget, such as yourself. You are welcome to phone me.

Just don’t make it collect.

But to refute all your points from A-to-Z. (Even I have a life to lead)…

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Also to Carol Winter:

(Knuckles cracked…),

In case you didn’t notice Carol, this is called “The Great Debate” and we have Paul Rosa and that officer from L.A. squaring-off, Jim and Pete squaring-off and me and Pete squaring off. And these are all great ideas. And its all here on the Internet (note to Pete: you know the Internet?, which was invented by America!)

And even Pete, bless his soul, I call him names, this is part of my arsenal and this is an effective strategy, because even you seem to be a little tongue-tied.

But I like picking on Pete, too. And I like picking on people from the U.K. and I’m going to pick on you right now. So you are going take your little medicine and like it.

First off, you are invited to call me anytime. It would be foolish to give my number out right now, under the microscope, so to speak. But I have disclosed my long last German name and the small town I live in. So do a little a research…

But you, Carol Winter, took a few shots at me, so if I could respond. Yeah I’m hurling epithets in the safety of my own home – well you’re part right. And you’re also part wrong.

Believe it or not, I also “walk the walk”, so to speak, but you will have take my word on that. Only you’re sophomoric fragile confidence hopes that I hide behind a computer.

I’m not hiding. I’m right here.

And I called you a mental midget. Prove me wrong. Prove to me you are not part of the ‘Crayon Crew’ with Pete.

But lets look at you for a second…first, you interrupted our debate, And its a great debate! by printing a whole chapter on this thread, which in my opinion is rude as well, forcing the good people on this debate to read this crap. And we only have so much time. So sometimes less is more. And there is a lot of crap on the net and I just scanned what you put up.

You could have encapsulated your moronic posting with a joke, but I forgot, you were making a joke. Not all of us, like Pete, are on permanent vacation, either.

Second, you are suggesting censorship on the internet just because things aren’t going your little way. And pardon me, I didn’t know you made the rules…And thankfully, its still an open forum.

Third, your comments about ‘a punch in the face’, which I thought were cute, is a borderline threat and lets not mince words… If i said the same thing to you, I think someone might be showing up at my door. But thanks to America, the whole world ain’t Liberal yet. America is the last domino standing.

Fourth, let me take a shot at you (no pun intended)…

You publish your last name on the net, so either, you are brave or terribly naive and I think its the latter of the two.

You use Latin in your thread to impress, so right off the bat, you are a psuedo-intellectual University Student, probably come from a rich home, probably from the Eastern Seabord (not the Midwest).

You are probably a ‘policy wonk’ – trying to impress Men with your brain. (And we all know about women with great personalities…)

Or maybe you are a Man impersonating a Woman. Or a Woman impersonating a Man.

Hopefully this is my last statement on this thread and I look forward to hearing from everybody on other posts, including you Carol Winter. And Pete for being such a good sport.

Guns equal freedom. Equal freedom of Speech.

God Bless America

Drew Scott Kreutzweiser
Ontario, Canada

Posted by Drew | Report as abusive

Interesting comments from an Englishman regarding the passionate discourse in our country on the right to own a firearm. There is some clamor in Great Britain currently about bringing back the right to bear arms due to the increasing crime problem, especially in the countryside. Americans who do not wish to have the law changed are vocal in the gun debate to the point of being belligerent because they know that if the state moves aggressively on gun ownership there will be a cascade of laws once a precedence is established in court and private gun ownership will be over – well and truly. The mayors who have problems in their respective cities have societal problems – not gun problems. Eleanor Holmes Norton cries about the prevalence of gun shops in Virginia that she claims are a source for firearms in the crime ridden shooting galleries of the District. They sell a lot of firearms in Virgina – but the difference is that residents aren’t using them to slaughter each other like the thugs in DC. There are hundreds of millions of firearms in the U.S. If the State takes the weapons from the law-abiding citizens – the only people left who will have access to the huge number of unregistered guns will be the criminals – just like the situation in Great Britain.

Posted by Galasso | Report as abusive

For Carol Winters: I respectfully disagree with the article you cite that says gun banning has worked in DC. Just last week, the Chief of Police of the District of Columbia said that they are optimistic that by year’s end they will have had less than 100 homicides – which will finally after 45 years – dip to the level when JFK was President. That is certainly not a record to be proud of especially in such a small metropolitan area.

Posted by Galasso | Report as abusive

The Supreme Court did not give us the right for individual ownership of firearms in 2008—that right was granted in the original US Constitution (You know, those guys with white powdered wigs who wore knickers? Who were their fashion consultants?). The DC case basically ruled that the DC government was violating that fundamental right of the citizens of the District (the ones NOT committing crime, rather the potential unarmed victims). I would refer one to the voluminous discourse of the founders on the subject, and the historical documentation of the Crown’s attempts to control firearm ownership in the colonies prior to the American Revolution.

On a gut level, what does one do at midnight when a large stranger is looking in the patio window, seems oblivious to the four large dogs barking at him from the inside and decides to come in anyway? One shows him the business end of a .38 Special, as I did. He decided that I had the edge and vanished into the night.

Posted by Bigolfascist | Report as abusive

“Oh, No”, I hear the cry, “he’s back!”

Galasso
“There is some clamor in Great Britain currently about bringing back the right to bear arms due to the increasing crime problem, especially in the countryside.”

I am quite an avid follower of news and current affairs, and I have never heard of this. Furthermore I have never heard anyone even raise the idea that private ownership of guns is a solution to crime. If you are from the UK we must look at different sources of info. and move in different social circles. Guns and gun crime is so noticeable in the UK press because there is so little of it, and there are so few guns. I recall a drug dealer shooting a rival drug dealer in most US towns and cities is hardly worth a from page in the local paper, whilst in the UK it can make all the national papers and news channels.

I think perception of guns in society is crucial to this debate. In most mainstream (Hollywood) movies gun use is widespread, and crucially, often seen as the solution to a problem. Certainly for the blockbusters the cool, sexy, tough hero is the one who knows how to use a gun, and the nerd, the wimp, the coward or the comedy relief is the one who has never fired a weapon, and has to be shown, usually with a knowing smirk, what to do. Often final redemption is only achieved when the nerd overcomes their cowardice and joins the fray, sometimes even saving the hero. By this method they gain acceptance, prove their worth and none too subtly re-affirm that heroes use guns. I don’t think there can be anyone who would seriously argue this but just in case, feel free to run through the plotlines (a very loose use of the term) of the Die Hard & Lethal Weapon series, Dirty Harrys, etc.

Before this we have the western, and here I think we find a reflection of the need American society has to see itself as different from others, with perhaps more noble a purpose. It is true that every society is different, just as every region and person is. Nations can be stereotyped, and sometimes those stereotypes are propagated and celebrated as a source of pride. A number of posts have mentioned the difference in American psyche, geography, and most seem (subconsciously or not) to hark back to those frontier plainsmen, masters of the wide open spaces, simple but honest, ready to help the weak and punish the oppressor, invariably with a gun in their hand.

Now we know that the cowboy of popular culture is almost exclusively derived from pulp fiction written by easterners in the 1800′s. In fact there were very few Cowboys as a proportion of the total population, and as their name implies, they were cattle wranglers, doing a tough, backbreaking job in appalling conditions for very little compensation. The proportion of gun ownership amongst this group was not as high as fiction would imply either, simply because a gun was still an expensive purchase and had limited functionality when compared to a knife.

I mentioned in my original post the insular view of the world which many Americans have. This is undoubtedly due to the size of the place, which means there is often a lot of national news to pack in at the expense of world events, and the island mentality which comes from have so few borders, and no potential rival nations (sorry Canada and Mexico). One poster Cory Hine claimed
“One of the reasons that the US has never been invaded, is the fact that the invaders would face a rifle behind every blade of grass”

I would suggest that the military strength of the US throughout the last centaury, the slight issue of staging an invasion across several thousand miles of ocean and the problem of MAD were more relevant to the military strategists than the fear that a duck hunter would be taking pot shots at them. This is not to say that this was not the case at the time the Constitution was drawn up, and, as a new nation with huge borders and a fragile unity, the need to respond to a potential threat in some distant location would quite conceivably require a militia to act as the Army pro tem. Also, there was a level of suspicion and mistrust between the states themselves, and the Constitution and its amendments recognised that a state could call upon its citizenry at short notice to form a state militia to defend itself against neighbouring states.

My point is that, yes America is a unique country, as is every other nation on earth. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, traits and traditions. However, all nations change and develop, as society grows and matures. No one (I hope) now thinks that slavery is acceptable, and what was once seen as sensible and expedient is now generally abhorrent. Racism, sexism, religious intolerance, were all at one time or another enshrined in law in most developed nations. As we have grown as a global society we have been able to modify our views and therefore our laws to reflect this, and it seems discordant therefore that, with the progress the US has made in all other areas, the issue of gun control still seems, in many cases to hark back to another era which in all probability did not even exist.

Final point. Drew; I am touched, almost a compliment in there! Now that we have bonded, next time I am in Canada I will know where to look you up for a visit. I will make sure I give you plenty of warning though, as I would not want to show up on your doorstep unannounced. I would guess that the house will in any case be surrounded by furious gun control supporters, shaking their fist ineffectually at you in the absence of anything stronger with which to overcome your superior firepower!

Posted by pete | Report as abusive

Drew–
Did you actually read my original post, or jump to the conclusion that, based upon its title, the essay must necessarily espouse gun control? Read it again, and understand that the author is vehemently pro gun, and so am I. I am baffled that as an advocate of firearm rights, you would fail to recognize that the author effectively contradicts just about every argument in favor of gun control made by the anti-gun establishment over the last 20 years. And I’m the moron? Who is calling the kettle black here? And Galasso, the article doesn’t suggest gun bans have worked in Washington D.C., but quite the opposite: Just across the Potomac River, the State of Virginia has no gun control and a murder rate of 1.6 per 100,000, while Washington D.C. has one of the highest murder rates in the country. Pay attention!

Posted by Carol Winters | Report as abusive

I think you are all missing the point.

The founding fathers did not award the right to keep & bear arms the status of #2 in the bill of RIGHTS, as a crime deterent, a self defence measure or even a subsistance method, although arms have sure come in handy on all of those accounts.

Rather they knew from sad experience, long and bitter, that the right of the people to throw off a government that has become odious & offensive to them, is what must be preserved and THAT was the original intent of the phrase.

It is imperative to our freedom and liberty that our government always know, that it’s people have the will and the means to throw it off or change it if things come to the point where liberty is in peril & civil means to preserve it fail.

It is, in fact, our duty.

Simply we must not and cannot have a society where only the “authorities” and the government are armed.

In the words of Thomas Paine: “Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them. ”
Thomas Paine

It is this balance that we wrestle with. We need our government to secuire our liberty, but that same government cannot always be assumed to be virtuous, so the governed must retain the ability to ensure that it’s government remembers its true place.

And it is this that I believe the liberal mentality either truly fears or misunderstands.

I can’t believe that the ani-gun lobby are so abysmally dim that they miss the 800 lb gorilla in this entire discussion.

That being, that if you pass rigid gun control, two things will happen.

1. Law abiding citizens will be faced with a choice; become a criminal by keeping his guns anyway or disarming. Thus, the law abiding person must chose to become prey to the uncivilized criminal or become a criminal himself at best and at worst, a slave to a government that no longer respects him.

2. As legal arms disappear, illegal arms traffic will increase. A black market will arise and the government will have no more luck stopping it than it does illegal immigrants or tons of dope and drugs.

Foregin arms makers will reap the windfall, law abiding Americans will become defensless.

Since the anti gun minds must see this, and I can’t believe they don’t, I am left with the simple suspicion that they themsevles have nefarious motives or are very naive, either of which chill this patriot to the bone.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Jim–
Well said.

Posted by Carol Winters | Report as abusive

Pete,

Your continued insistance on the use of misleading phrases like, “greater chance of being killed with a gun” is bad enough (the issue is whether or not gun ownership in a society correlates with more/less violence and murder, not murder via a specific implement. If I take away your gun and you then stab someone to death instead of shooting them, is society the better for it?) But then you pull the following nonsense:

- “I am not quite sure why you adopt such an aggressive tone, but I have tried to avoid silly personal attacks, as they serve no purpose and invariably make the accuser look the fool.”

I have been neither aggressive nor have I engaged in ANY personal attacks on you. The hypocrisy your false accusation juxtaposed with the last phrase is most ironic, however.

Posted by Dan Parker | Report as abusive

Pete said….

“Guns and gun crime is so noticeable in the UK press because there is so little of it, and there are so few guns.”

LOL! You still don’t get it, do you? Is the ultimate goal to simply reduce *gun crime* specifically, or crime overall? If the former, well then…congratulations. Does that mean that one should be proud of the current dramatic increase in the London murder rate simply because almost none of those murders were committed with a firearm?

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/artic le-530290-details/Murder+rate+hits+almos t+one+a+day/article.do

“In recent weeks, detectives in high-profile murder inquiries, such as the case of the boy battered and then burned to death in Kingsbury…”

Whew. Good thing he wasn’t shot. That would have been tragic.

Posted by Dan Parker | Report as abusive

This is for Sharrratt–and everyone else!

Benjamin Franklin’s exact quote:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Posted by Dev Poster | Report as abusive

The argument that an armed population would be helpless against the arms of the military sounds feasable except for one important FACT..In America,the Military is composed of Citizens of America..When joining the military,each person is sworned to protect America from Foriegn and Domestic Enemies.They are also sworn to not obey an Unlawful Order..Any order,that commands the military to fire on American Citizens is an unlawful order,even if it comes from the Commander-in-Chief..Some Military may be reluctant to dis-obey the President,but they would be set straight by their Comrades..In all probability,the Military would oust the president that tried to order the Military to fire on the Citizenery…The first half of my adult life was serving my country in the military..during that time,I had to reaffirm my Sacred Oath every four years..Because of his written words and the reputations of his mentors,Obama is the only President that I am scared of..Hopefully,the Military wouldn’t become so propagandized that they would forget their Sacred Oaths if some situation occurred where Obama would try to Order the Military to Fire on Americans..

Posted by jacgar | Report as abusive

The MAIG, Mayors Against Illegal Guns would be more aptly named Mayors Against Firearms In America. This sham organization pretends to be only against illegal guns, but they really are about the suppression of a fundamental, enumerated, and incorporated civil right. In New York state there is a ban on the mere possession of a handgun for any out of state resident. That’s right, a ban. The rash of recent arrests aren’t new, they are just being reported more lately.

No matter how law-abiding or compliant, one may not even possess a locked, unloaded, registered handgun in NY state without a state permit, and it is not issued to out-of-state residents. That’s a ban for 98% of Americans. And mere possession is a felony.

The US Supreme court has recently struck two bans, in DC and in Chicago. Second Amendment jurisprudence is in it’s relative infancy, so it will take awhile, but in a few years, any non-prohibited person will be able to carry (bear) arms for self defense in all but the most sensitive places, such as courthouses and the secure areas of airports.

This is how it’s done in most of the country, and licensed concealed permit holders have proven overwhelmingly that they may be trusted with the right. They are a group so law-abiding, that firearms misuse among them is statistically incalculable.

Time to get with the program, NY, NJ, IL. Wake up, the Second Amendment is alive and well in most of the rest of the country, It works perfectly well as designed, if you let it.

Posted by mystroh | Report as abusive