“Guns Don’t Kill People” Redux

Of course it’s happened again.This time a community college campus in Northern Oregon is the site of carnage.It’s like a broken recorder playing a loony tune.Traumatized victims,numbed local officials,an embarrassed angry governor, an angry,saddened president…Where is the “good guy with a gun”?Clearly ,according to the NRA, we need more guns to stop the bad guys.The supreme court has already spoken declaring “the right to bear arms” an essential part of the second amendment and applicable not only to militias but to individuals.The howling about mental illness is about to begin again and congress under threat of the NRA will no doubt once again refuse to act.

There are those who will shout that this is an example of the “War on Christianity”.Unfortunately the perpetrator was a would be survivalist and a lover of military paraphernalia and display who can’t  be labeled as a leftist.

Maybe there will be some restriction on the size of magazines at the local level.The guns are already out there.Somewhere in the crazy convoluted governmental patchwork those with some executive power need to use it.Who will regulate the regulators? We already have that problem!



  1. The issue with gun violence–its perpetuation and its restriction–is that deregulation has existed long enough to make regulation seem abnormal in the minds of American citizens. What we have to understand about gun advocates is that they have a neurotic insecurity about their place in society (i.e., there is a constant conflation between 2nd amendment rights and protection FROM individuals and organizations within their own society). The gun is a symbol of power, and that association has existed since America’s foundation.

    Undoubtedly, the accessibility of guns, as well as their technological killing potential (e.g., automatic assault rifles), has increased tremendously over the past century. However, it is important to recognize that other forms of organized violence have decreased (e.g., lynch mobs, race riots, etc.). In essence, I believe it is important to ask ourselves whether we are really upset with this specific FORM of incessant violence, or with incessant violence in general. Has there ever been a society without its form of maniacal violence? Is the form that it has now taken in modern American society indeed worse than the forms of the past? For example: if I were given the choice between 1950s Alabama with their police, KKK and Citizens Council, or some random shooting at a random school in 2015 Alabama, I would choose the latter unquestioningly. Better probability of survival.

    1. You raise the question of the covariance of forms of violence.If there were to be an increase in other forms of violence given a decrease in gun violence or some other one on one violence, your choice would be much more than a socratic exercise.I don’t think that has been demonstrated.That notwithstanding,individual survival has a better chance when murder isn’t group administered.I agree!

  2. A fundamental question would be the following: Does an availability of guns inspire more bad behavior than it deters? By asking this question we can understand that the most life-saving answer will be context sensitive. Local areas will contain more or fewer responsible citizens. The nature of threat will vary as law enforcement may not equally provide security. Related as fundamental – consider the value of freedom. How can a society protect a freedom for all diverse human beings without some misusing it? So we try by disciplining the irresponsible and protecting the freedoms that help the responsible. Nationwide only accurate statistical evidence can reveal the most life-saving disciplines and freedoms. For instance, an objective truth-seeker would want to know how often guns are actually used to deter a crime? John Lott has held positions in law and economics at several institutions, including the Yale Law School, Stanford, UCLA, the Wharton Business School, Texas A&M University, and Rice University. Lott argues in both “More Guns, Less Crime” and “The Bias Against Guns” that defensive gun use (DGU) is underreported, noting that in general, only shootings ending in fatalities are discussed in news stories. In “More Guns, Less Crime”, Lott writes that “[s]ince in many defensive cases a handgun is simply brandished, and no one is harmed, many defensive uses are never even reported to the police.”
    Does the outlandish nature of mass shootings cause unwarranted anxiety?
    There is a new study by the Congressional Research Service, “Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 1999 – 2013”. Criminologist James Alan Fox, of Northeastern University, says “there is no solid trend” in the number of such crimes, and “No matter how you cut it, there’s no epidemic.” The study shows that the chance of being killed in a mass shooting in the United States in any given year between 1999 and 2013 would be nearly one in three million.

    1. Congressional refusal to allow the CDC to do a comprehensive contemporary study of gun violence make me suspicious of the sponsorship of older studies.Certainly that “gun violence is not a disease”is a transparent cop out!(purchased by the NRA.?)).

  3. President Obama claimed that school shootings in America have become routine. In fact, the majority of killings in America in general have become too routine. Rather than plagiarizing the thoughts behind the following article, I’d like to offer this link to it in order to offer a perspective of why our American society actually values violence and fosters its perpetuation. I hope it’s acceptable to offer this link as simply another opinion for the group to consider:


    If this submission goes against group protocol, I will acquiesce. Participation is a learning process for me.

  4. Gun rights advocates fought legislation that would require background checks on private gun transfers (40% of all gun transfers). They also fought legislation that would require mentally incompetent and mentally unstable people to relinquish guns they already own. They fought legislation requiring persons (including boyfriends) with domestic abuse charges and/or restraining orders to relinquish their weapons. Ironically, these same gun rights advocates claim that regulation doesn’t work. That’s an illogical argument at best.

    For those gun advocates who claim that guns make us safer, I’d like to add that the majority of gun deaths in America are by suicide; also gun suicides are far more “successful” than all other forms of suicide. And, percentage wise, very few gun homicides are good people with guns killing criminals with guns. Aside from suicides, the majority of shootings are of family members, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, or accidental shootings (often of adolescents). So exactly how has the unregulated proliferation of guns in America made us safer as a society?

    The latest school shooting in Oregon brings the total for 2015 up to FORTY-FIVE! … and we still have a quarter year to go. Are gun rights advocates “shooting” for a record?

    1. Whomever said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results” (apparently misattributed to Einstein) was, of course, correct. We’re in a state of collective domestic abuse of the psyche of our citizenry with no one able or willing to take action. My understanding that the first step to mental treatment is the recognition to a problem. How much more sadness, trauma must we experience as a nation to go for treatment? Mass killings now averaging more than one a week … not taking into consideration that every 60 seconds one of our residents is murdered due to gun violence.

      The bastardization of the 2nd Amendment. When made part of our constitutional rights, the population’s weapons were flintlocks. If we want “our country given back,” and we refuse to acknowledge the 18th century mentality that created the provision … for a “well-regulated militia” (which we have in the form of the National Guard) … how about if the only guns that we are allowed to own be FLINTLOCKS? What irresponsible concept allows layman citizens to own weapons such as M16s, AK-47s, Uzis, bazookas (I don’t know if I’m naming them correctly!) … if under the guise of “collectors” … without any training/licensing requirements? When a member of my family was sent to Iraq as a prisoner review magistrate, the requirement (rightfully so) was a four-week training on how to handle the military weapon … even though the expertise was as an FA-18 aviator.

      Should we continue to feel helpless as we view and become more and more informed about these tragedies? Is there power in the written word? I fear the experience of such loss … my children, grandchildren who are no more valuable than someone else’s. How can we find peace with such losses before us? I know, I know …

      Virginia Wolf ~ “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

      You stated: “There are those who will shout that this is an example of the ‘War on Christianity’.”

      Religion? Again? Any present claim to spirituality is an offensive spin/excuse. The question to those is … “Have you no sense of decency?” … personally adding, no sense of shame?

      Professor Thomas, I see your suggestions/demands towards a solution. Common sense is still not working. All the fancy words and ivory tower quotes are not addressing the fundamental proof that what we have out there ain’t working … insanity of reason. The crucible of our collective experience is obviously not hot enough. I’m in a state of mourning at so many levels. The families have entered their third day of personal loss. However, you still make me face life. Thank you!

      P. S. Greg, as usual, you always have your statistics right. And, Professor Thomas is very generous with protocol. 😉

      1. OK, in a fit of ad hominem passion, I misspelled Ms. Woolf’s name. Thank you for being polite and not pointing it out … Greg! Professor Thomas is most kind about that as well … he lets my thoughts soar to the skies!

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