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Posted by on Jan 16, 2013 in Business, Crime, Featured, Law, Politics | 20 comments

Surprising Consensus on Gun Control

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Even though we all knew there has been movement towards more stringent gun control since Sandy Hook (and Webster, and Aurora), the latest figures are really surprising. They come from Pew Research.

Going down the list — there’s widespread approval for background checks for private and gunshow sales. Republicans make up a large part of that widespread approval.

The number goes down to 80% approval for preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns. That’s one that seems easy — certainly easy to approve. But “mental illness” is going to need defining. People in therapy for marriage counseling? Or for the loss of a spouse? The whole “mental illness” issue in our society is a tough one with enough ignorance about the subject to challenge even the most intelligent legislator and puts therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in a problematical situation.

“Federal database to track gun sales.” That’s where we get down into the 67% level. NRA has managed, for years, to keep the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms from keeping an effect database. Even though the NRA showed itself to be pretty weak during the last election (spent a pile of money for nothing), they’ll be sniffing around this effort to track guns.

Ban on semi-automatic weapons picks up 58%. Ban on assault-style weapons, 55%.

Ban on high-capacity ammo clips, 54% and ban on online sales of ammo 53%.

In the tank is the idea of arming teachers and administrators in schools. You can forget that one.

For the time being, gun rights people are far more active in fight to curb restrictions, according to Pew. I could see that changing.

One other obvious divide is between men and women in the survey. Once you get past the cliche that men just like guns better, it would be fair to ask whether, in their clear dependence on guns and ever more powerful weaponry — I’m being completely serious here — something hasn’t happened to American men and their self-confidence? That’s putting it politely. I guess some loss of masculinity is what I’m seeing, or maybe just the fear of loss of virility i haven’t seen elsewhere. Something to think about.

Cross posted from Prairie Weather

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  • dduck

    Perhaps a supply of Viagra could be used to make gun buybacks.

  • slamfu

    Sandy Hook was indeed a tragedy, but it saddens me that individual incidents like this spark controversy when we have tens of thousands dying every year to gun violence. A per capita gun death rate that eclipses every other nation in the world not currently involved in a major military conflict. And even some of those. And we just plod along like there is simply nothing to be done. Takes a madman and a story juicy enough for the news to take notice to shock us out of our stupor, when a look at the facts should be enough.

  • slamfu

    Lol duck, you might be on to something.

  • SteveK

    The entire Pew Report seems a positive step, the direction of even partisan “Views on Banning Assault-Style and Semi-Automatic Weapons” seems most promising.

    Edit to add: I’m sure some will yell, “EE!” nonetheless. 🙂

  • The_Ohioan

    Just watched a young man, a filmmaker, on TV’s “The Cycle” who has had a short film accepted at the Sundance festival – “Gun”. It’s about the change in a man who had never had nor wanted a gun, but decided he should have one. In the film a drastic personality change occurred when he actually purchased one and learned how to use it.

    From an interview:

    GUN does exactly that. Though not autobiographical, the storyline of Roy’s gun obsession developed in Gillis’ imagination shortly after he and his wife moved to the New Jersey suburbs. Compared to his years living in the city, suburban life seemed particularly quiet, and when a noise on his back deck woke him one night, adrenaline kicked in. It was a false alarm, but it made him realize that he had nothing, not even a bat, to protect himself.

    In the film, Roy purchases a gun for protection, and Gillis says he understands the mental shift that occurs in Roy after he first handles the firearm.

    “My mom was a cop when I was growing up, and she was on a pistol team. She taught me how to shoot,” he says. “There’s something about the first time you shoot a gun and feeling just how powerful it is. It does something to you. Knowing you can take a life is a heavy responsibility.”

    So the virility issue may work the same with guns as it does with cars, only more so. Which may explain both “the bigger the better” complex and the distress when a perceived threat to take their gun/manhood away.

    And how do guns work on the female psyche? Same power surge?

  • slamfu

    It so silly, they are going to ban “assault” weapons when no one really has come up with a universal definition for that. Could be semi, full auto, scary looking, it doesn’t matter. The only real definition of how dangerous a gun is in these situations is how much ammo does it hold, and how fast can you reload it? Basically, anything with a clip. The worst shooting was Virginia Tech, and he did all that murder and carnage with pistols. You want a limit, how about muskets for all and see how many mass shootings occur.

  • ordinarysparrow

    dduk might work?

    Remember when Mae West said in the film My Little Chickadee “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?” she was talking Freud.

    How about giving every man that turns in his guns a replacement symbolic that could represent the unconscious attraction other than the gun:

    Chevy Corvette
    Dodge Charger
    Trans Am
    Nissan 350Z

    Okay, not being nice here, and way too crass…sorry….. just totally over those that have dug their heels in and refuse to come to the table with good intent to work for greater gun safety…

    I just know too many are dying and being maimed by gun violence….am disappointed in American and many of her citizens when it comes to some basic human decency issues…

  • ordinarysparrow

    And i hope there are many other Americans that find implementing gun regulations to be a slow burn that builds as it goes… instead of how it has been in the past…with an incident that peaks at the outcry then it recedes to nothing…

  • zephyr

    The Pew report shows how out of step the NRA is with America. Great comments and suggestions from our own people.

  • sheknows

    The majority of the American people may be for a ban on assault weapons but the majority of our house is not.
    I guess if this gets shot down again, we can expect all those americans to angrily take it up with the NRA?

  • adelinesdad

    Like most Americans I’m in favor of most of the President’s proposed reforms, though I’m skeptical it’s really going to prevent future violence to any significant degree. I think the more pressing issue is societal and psychological. How do we figure out who is going to do something like this and stop them before they do? Or better yet if we figure out what it is about our society that helps create people who want to do this, and then fix that. It’s a very difficult problem but I think the more relevant one. These gun control measures mostly seem reasonable and I won’t stand in their way (as if I could) but I worry that they are distracting us from the more important issues.

    I also do worry about what we mean by “mental illness.” There are lots of people who technically may qualify for that who are of not danger at all. I worry that this is scapegoating. We need to have very clear guidelines on how we are going to decide who really is a danger due to their mental state. We also don’t want to discourage people from getting help because they are worried they might have their rights taken away.

    Also, I noticed you skipped over the stat that 64% support armed security guards/police in more schools. I’ll assume that was an oversight. While I support the gun control measures I think more security would be more effective in the short term. If you were to tell me that there would be an armed intruder to my kids school sometime in the next year, and the only thing I could do about it is either pass the gun control measures the president has proposed, or put a trained and qualified armed guard in the school, I’d choose the latter and I think most people would. (Expecting teachers and other school staff to be armed is indeed ridiculous and reckless, however.)

  • sheknows

    I would say that 90% of the shootings that take place daily are committed by people who have no mental health history.
    Despite what many want to believe, or the NRA would like everyone to believe, it IS the guns. Their availability.
    Many murders are committed by “temporary” insanity, others by gang violence, others by accident ( I didn’t mean to shoot him).
    There are SO many weapons out there now, checking mental health records is a waste of time. Are we trying to profile mass murderers, or just the average killer, or the person who MIGHT be a killer given enough stress? It is a witch hunt that diverts us from the real problem. Availability of guns.
    We delude ourselves into thinking we will be somehow safer if we have these mental health records . Baloney!!

  • dduck

    SK, it is an NRA smokescreen.

  • adelinesdad


    I’d guess it’s more than 90%, though the percentage may be different for mass murders. But I mostly agree with you that singling out those with mental illness has the potential to become a witch hunt. There should be a process by which mental health professionals can say that a certain person shouldn’t have a weapon for very specific reasons, but in general the focus should be more on helping people get and stay with treatment (helpful for avoiding violence as well as many other reasons) rather than on denying guns to broad categories of people.

    However I’d disagree with you on your conclusion that availability of guns is the bigger issue though. It’s true that if guns were much less available then there would be fewer deaths. However, I’m skeptical that we can really make guns that much less available while still upholding the individual right to bear arms (which, regardless of your stance on that, Obama has reaffirmed). First, as long as every individual, unless specifically forbidden, can buy a gun, I don’t see how we can make it very hard for someone who is forbidden to get one through alternate channels. Second, determining who should be forbidden is a lot easier in retrospect (when it’s too late). And third, as long as they can get a gun, what kind of gun it is is of marginal importance in my opinion.

  • sheknows

    You have a very valid point adelinesdad. I am not opposed to hunters having guns, sport shooting or even people having them for protection.
    I believe that we have so many guns now that delving into health records, though as you say may help in retrospect, will do nothing to prevent the deaths.
    My proposal is to have psychological profiles for everyone who applies for a gun. Reviewed by mental health professionals. If they come back a variety of anti-social and delusional or paranoid tendencies…they don’t get a gun. They talk about background checks, but that is only part of what must be determined before we let just anyone walk out the door with a weapon.

  • dduck

    SK, totally impractical and intrusive with shades of 1984 thrown in.

  • sheknows

    dd…it is not impractical or intrusive. If they can fill out an application they can can take a test. Just how else would you determine whether or not they were “balanced” enough to own gun. Everyone talks now about releasing PRIVATE records on people who practitioners feel “may” be a threat..( that sucks) but when people apply for a gun, we already KNOW they will be in possession of a deadly weapon. Better to prevent that from happening.
    Invasive?..No. When you fill out your application for a gun, you take a test. It is assigned a number. It is evaluated by state mental health professionals.
    #37889 results shows anti-social tendencies with delusional thinking. No gun issuance allowed. It is entirely anonymous…unlike the release of NAMES released by practitioners who may be suspect.

  • sheknows

    BTW the military uses psychological profiles all the time for various reasons. My husband was in the army and had a Top Secret clearance. I can’t tell you how many of these tests he had to take. They certainly don’t want “fringe looneys” running around with classified information.
    We certainly don’t want fringe loonies running around locked and loaded.

  • adelinesdad


    I think such a test would only meet constitutional standards if it were cheap and had negligible chance of false positives. I’m not an expert in the field of psychological testing but I’m skeptical that it would meet both of those requirements while still being effective at finding “true” positives. My understanding is that the security clearance process is long and I’d think expensive to administer, to varying degrees depending on the level of clearance needed, so I don’t think that’s a useful example to follow.

  • dduck

    SK, I also had a Secret clearance and I’m sure the FBI spent a pretty penny cause they questioned the bartender where I sometimes hung out and others. No, I didn’t have any psychological tests that I’m aware of and I don’t think a quickie test would reveal anything. I still maintain that it would cost a lot and accomplish little. Similarly to stopping terrorists: “Terrorists only have to be lucky once, we have to be lucky all the time.” Same for mass murderers.

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