Stanford Expert: Strict Gun Laws Make Police, Communities Safer

Last week I penned a column on police violence, recent violence against police and how the Blues Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter movements both have value. I also noted that both should be in favor of stronger gun control laws. The reaction was incredible.

Commenters unanimously agreed with my suggestion—in a very thoughtful and respectful manner—that police departments and their respective unions could affect meaningful change in the wake of recent mass shootings by taking on the NRA and advocating for better mental health services.

Eh, just kidding.

In fact, very few commenters seemed interested in discussing how police could take the lead on gun control. Even fewer commenters were moved by the simple point that preventing the public from accessing high-powered weapons will make it more difficult for people suffering from mental illness to take the lives of police officers, people in black churches and classrooms full of 6- and 7-year-olds.

One supposedly retired San Jose police officer did take the time to email a picture of me with my head up my own butt. I'll let you know when I reach the promised land.

Another commenter, however, made an important point by noting that most police officers oppose gun control by an overwhelming margin. If true, and I believe it is, this is a point worth discussing.

According to a 2013 poll by PoliceOne, a website dedicated to law enforcement issues, police officers overwhelmingly oppose gun control. More than 91 percent of respondents said that a federal ban on “assault weapons” would either do nothing to keep us safer, or make us less safe. Granted, the findings are three years old, but the numbers were remarkable considering Newtown occurred just three months prior to the poll.

Polling done after the Orlando mass shooting in June found that American support for stricter gun control laws hasn’t been this high since the 2012 tragedy. But if police officers—and even the public to a lesser extent—don’t think high-powered weapons in everyday citizens’ hands is a problem, how can we make progress to stop mass shootings? Are police concerned that greater gun control means we will then go after their guns?

Regarding easy access to guns, and particularly assault rifles, if police do not believe this is a problem—even though many officer-involved shootings are motivated by the concern that a suspect has a firearm—we are merely giving lip service to the Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter movements.

We need more police officers stepping forward to confront the notion that guns are benevolent tools and behavior is all that must change.

In mid-July, Stanford law Professor John J. Donohue said that the reduction of civilian firepower would increase police and community safety. In a Q&A with Clifton B. Parker, Donohue argued that the best way to protect officers and prevent events like the sniper attack in Dallas is to increase gun control:

What can enhance police safety, given the events in Dallas?

Reducing civilian firepower is an obvious measure to enhance police safety, as is banning armor-piercing bullets, although both of these measures are strongly resisted by the NRA [National Rifle Association]. The measures enumerated above that are designed to promote better relations between the police and community—as well as any measures that lead to lower crime rates—will also be helpful.

One important study that merits further investigation found that states with high rates of civilian gun ownership are more dangerous for the police. The study examined data on the number of homicidal deaths of police in two groups of states with roughly equal number of police officers—the eight states with the lowest levels of gun ownership and the 23 states with the highest rate of gun ownership. The study found that, over the period from 1996 to 2010, the rate of police homicide in the high-gun prevalence states was three times as high as the rate of police homicide in the low-gun prevalence states.

The article has several more interesting points about how crime is down nationally, how gun deaths are down and how California is leading the way on gun control. But one thought of Donahue’s should be the standard by which we have the debate: “A fundamental principle is that civilians should have no more firepower than is demonstrably needed for lawful purposes.”

So, commenters, why do you think police officers are so opposed to stronger gun control?

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful responses.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. We all operate from a frame of reference. Police tend to be authoritarian and they operate from a frame of it’s us versus them. Many policemen believe that they are protecting society from the “animals” and since there aren’t enough police to keep everyone safe, it makes perfect sense for people to have guns for self protection.

    I recently was involved in a California stop controversy that was in the Mercury News. My argument was that it shouldn’t be us (the police) versus them (the public), but rather police should use judgment and take the whole situation into account before giving a ticket. So many people argued that the law is absolute and you have to come to a complete stop even if it’s three AM and there are no cars or people around.

    I believe that the ideas of everything being framed as a us verses them argument isn’t going to change at the operational level. Our best bet in terms of guns is to repeal the 2005 law on immunity for gun manufacturers and then sue the hell out of them. Change will come rapidly.

    • I experienced this too, that is until I moved out of California. Get to the Midwest and your interactions with LE will be much different.

    • How about instead of suing the hell out of manufacturers of inanimate objects, we prosecute the hell out of guilty criminals? You know, the ones who actually pull the trigger?

  2. Police officers are overwhelmingly patriotic individuals, to them taking citizens rights away fly’s in the face of what they believe. And what they believe is individuals have a fundamental right to protect themselves and their families and to have a means to take up arms against our government should the need ever arise. I know the latter sounds crazy to you and other Liberals but it is something that millions of Americans feel is a sacred duty afforded to us in our nations founding documents, a right we pray we never need to exercise but one we must safeguard. If you are unable to grasp this concept we will never agree on this issue.

  3. > Thank you in advance for your thoughtful responses.

    Thoughtful response number 1. “it’s a software problem, not a hardware problem”.

    The gun grabbers are obsessed with . . . grabbing guns. Presumably on the theory that unarmed people are easily controlled by . . . enlightened social policies formulated by . . . smart people just like themselves and who admire the same shaman.

    In Switzerland, there is reportedly military hardware all over the place. Teen age kids ride their bicycles to their military reserve drills with their assault rifles slung over their shoulder, Seniorish citizens, still of military service age, keep their assault rifles propped in the corner behind the door.

    Switzerland is able to live peacefully and harmoniously without mass shootings and without hysterical, draconian gun control.

    Gun control in Switzerland is in the ethos of the Swiss people.

    Thoughtful response number 2. “Diversity” increases social conflict which increases fist violence, stick violence, rock violence, club violence, furniture violence, knife violence, and gun violence.

    I have offered the proposition in numerous occasions that humans fundamentally operate within one of two “ethoses”:
    1.) primitive shamanic tribalist forager ethos, or 2.) “modern” capitalist farmer/herder/trader ethos.

    The “primitives” instinctively look at the world as “my tribe” versus “other tribes”. My tribe good, other tribe bad. (Or as Orwell put it: “Four legs good, two legs bad”.)

    The moderns look at the world cooperatively, and other PEOPLE are trading partners, suppliers, and customers.

    Primitives look at guns in the hands of other tribes as a “threat”. (But OUR guns are good. Cf, Hillary, Obama, and their gun toting secret service protectors.)

    The moderns look at guns as essential tools for protecting their herds and crops, pastures and fields (i. e., private property) from predatory foragers, Moderns understand that “guns” are an essential facility of safe and productive “free trade”, and accept that guns are the normal necessary furniture and infrastructure of free trade.

    Bottom line: Primitives think that guns are a bad idea for “diverse” people, i.e people of other tribes. But think that guns are OK for themselves. The guns they want to ban are the other tribes’ guns.

    Moderns think guns are useful, and not a “problem”, although it would probably be a good idea keep them out of the hands of the worst primitives.

    The problem is, society cannot agree on who are the “worst primitives”.

    End of thoughtful responses.

    Returning to fondling my collection of surrogate manhood placebos.

  4. The title gives it away, “Standford Expert”. Ivory tower Phd.’s are not experts at anything but theory. As the plebeian philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but the south side is a war zone. What makes anyone think that thugs will turn in their guns just because it’s against the law to have one?

    Banning firearms means that thugs would have no hesitation to break into someone’s home or business because they know there won’t be any armed resistance. Australians discovered this fact when the murder rate increased 4x after banning firearms. We’d be better served to go the Swiss route instead. Make it mandatory that every non-felon adult has a firearm, is trained to use it, and is required to periodically re-qualify with it.

  5. Thank you for your request that people pose thoughtful responses. Here is mine as a recently-retired police officer:

    While I won’t go to the trouble or indignity of emailing to you a photo/cartoon/caricature of you with a severe case of cranial/rectal inversion, I will say that your assertions and exhortations remain as lacking today in factual foundation as your prior article did.

    Why is it that you believe that “We need more police officers stepping forward to confront the notion that guns are benevolent tools and behavior is all that must change.” Firstly, I don’t believe you would find any police officer asserting that a gun is either malevolent or benevolent. Indeed, the rational mind would understand that there is NO tool of any kind which, of itself, possesses malevolence or benevolence. Those qualities ONLY exist in the mind of the person using that tool. An axe in the hands of a logger is a tool of benevolence. In the hands of a German muslim extremist, it is a tool of malevolence, terror, and murder. A knife in the hands of a chef is a tool of benevolence, of sustenance and, occasionally, even of art. In the hands of a German muslim extremist, it, too, is a tool of malevolence, terror, and murder. A pressure cooker in the hands of a housewife (for instance) is a tool of benevolence and sustenance, but in the hands of the Tsarnaev brothers – again, practitioners of Islamic xenophobic extremism, a pressure cooker is, again, a tool of malevolence, of terror, of murder. Fertilizer is a tool for growing; diesel is a tool, a means of transporting and delivering energy, goods, foodstuff. Put them together though, put in the hands of someone like Timothy McVeigh, again, those benign items become tools of malevolence. A rifle in the hands of a hunter can be a tool of sutenance, in the hands of a rational law-abiding person, a tool of competition, sport, or self defense. But, in the hands of a black racist anti-cop extremist like Micah Xavier Johnson, it is a tool of malevolence, terror, and murder. So, too, it goes with cars, machetes, baseball bats, etc. etc. etc.

    Always, though, the difference between benevolent and malevolent is the intent of the user. A knife, an axe, a pressure cooker, a rifle: none of these form intent on their own. Intent can only ever exist in the consciousness of a person.

    I suspect that, taken as a group, and confronted with the worst that society has to offer, police officers know – both instinctively and intellectually – that consciousness, intent, sanity, and reason all are the defining factors which separate benevolence from malevolence, and that these qualities cannot be imbued on ANY inanimate object.

    Further, considering that police officers are, rightly, among the most scrutinized in their actions, and held more highly accountable for their professional – and sometimes personal – behavior than any other profession or group of people, perhaps they understand that if our society was willing to impose those same exceptionally high standards of behavior on everyone else – or at least come close to that – then we would have a more sane, ordered and lawful society, one with fewer murders – or crime of all kinds – and one which values the rigorous and equal application law to ALL groups of people. Sadly, these conditions have been diminishing year by year and there is no sign that things will improve anytime soon.

  6. Josh, since you’re such a huge fan of statistical discourse, here are a few snippets from CDC;

    The firearm homicide rate among African American men aged 20-29 is about 89 per 100,000.To put that fact in some international perspective, in Honduras – the country with the highest recorded homicide rate on the planet – there were 84 intentional murders per 100,000 people in 2013, and that includes all means (knives, forks, baseball bats, nun-chucks, screwdrivers, power tools, and yes, as well as firearms). Imagine, “better” than Honduras.

    Now, the firearm homicide rate among African American women is 7 per 100,000, Caucasian men 20 per 100,000 and Caucasian women 3 per 100,000.

    Care to predict which one of the four aforementioned demographic categories would benefit the most from “stricter gun control” measures?

  7. The government should have a say in firearms possession, just as it has a say in who is allowed to drive a car or fly a plane. Adults should be eligible to possess firearms provided they are citizens in good standing (good standing defined as no history of serious criminal conduct, drug or alcohol addiction, or mental illness). If the anti-gun people would spend their time lobbying for programs to keep firearms out of the hands of the people who can’t be trusted with them they’d find themselves left with very little evidence to support their broad brush condemnation.

    • You’re on to something with part of what you wrote. First of all, there are ALREADY federally-mandated minimum requirements to purchase a firearm: you have to submit to a check of the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) which is a phone call by the gun store clerk once you fill out a form. On that same form which gets submitted to the government, you have to attest that you are in good standing with no substance abuse problems or involuntary mental health treatment. The problem is, there’s currently no instant-check system akin to the NICS for substance abuse treatment or in-patient mental health treatment. As pro-2nd Amendment as I am, I bet we can all find common ground on creating an addition to the NICS to get all 50 states to submit such records so the same kind of check can be made right at the point of purchase.

    • Right, we have to allow citizens in good standing to have free reign over their guns. What about those “good parents” who leave loaded handguns in their bedrooms and little kids end up killing their brothers and sisters or their parents? What about the large number of people that use guns to commit suicide? We need to allow the CDC to investigate gun violence and to allow the gun companies to be sued which will force them to engineer guns that are safer. It worked with the car companies.

      • I did a google search on how many children are involved in gun related incidents/deaths and the number ranges from about 60 to over 10,000. No two sources were the same. I wonder if there are any other than the ones sensationalized in the nightly news. My brother in law kept a loaded gun in his bedroom and taught his young kids what it was and what it was for. Never any problems. The issue is serious, but over-hyped. How many more kids will get the “Polly Klass” treatment by violent pedophiles if they have no fear of an armed parent inside!

        • There’s a wide variation in child gun death figures because researchers selectively choose the definition of a child. The largest figures are used by Bloomberg funded organizations: Brady, Everytown, etc. They define a child as anyone under 25.

          12-24 year-olds are almost exclusively gang-related and comprise the vast majority of “child” gun deaths. The free Gun Facts book is meticulously researched see for details.

      • Robert Miller,

        You’re a victim of propaganda. You label people as “good parents” people who “leave loaded handguns in their bedrooms and little kids end up killing their brothers and sisters…”&etc.

        That is not a credible example of “good parents”. They’re breaking the law in many locations, and it’s just as irresponsible as if they let their kids play in the garage unsupervised, where they keep gasoline, sharp tools, and other dangerous items.

        You also want to sue gun companies. Is that like suing gasoline companies, or knife companies? Just wondering, because I’ve heard stories of those things up and killing people. We can’t be too careful, so it’s probably best if we get some lawyers to protect us…

        • First of all when I put quotes around good parents that doesn’t mean that I think they are good parents. Good parents wouldn’t take the chance of having loaded guns in the house. One dead child from gun violence is one too many.

          You said, “You also want to sue gun companies. Is that like suing gasoline companies, or knife companies? Just wondering, because I’ve heard stories of those things up and killing people.” When you sell gasoline that has lead in it or if you sell a knife where the blade comes off, government agencies will punish the retailer.

          If gun companies can be sued you would immediately find fingerprint identification on guns, weapons being sold only to reputable dealers and there would be guns marketed based on safety features.

          • Mr. Miller, I agree with Smokey that your beliefs are incorrect.

            Gun stores (retailers in your knife example) are liable if they fail to follow an extremely convoluted procedure. A minor error can prevent purchase approval. Purchase records have a 20 year retention requirement and retailers can be fined or shut down long after a sale if the paperwork trail isn’t flawless. Does it happen? Yes, a noted case (because the store owner sued ATF) resulted in the store’s closure last year and a significant fine to the owner.

            Suicides account for about 2/3rd of gun deaths – roughly 22,000 / year. But if guns were banned, would suicides decrease? No – the data doesn’t indicate that to be the outcome elsewhere. Note that if a mentally fit gun owner is subsequently diagnosed as suicidal, their firearms can be seized and they can be prevented from purchasing others. These laws haven’t lowered the gun suicide rate since enactment.

            Are “safe guns” a panacea? Maybe technical problems will be overcome, but it looks a lot like the promise of unlimited energy from fusion at this point. “Safe cars” could save more lives if drunks or druggies could be prevented from driving, yet too those have eluded us so far.

            Lifting manufacturer immunity would have predictable and adverse consequences:
            a. The US firearms industry would probably evaporate. We’d have to rely on other countries for our police and military firearms and advances in firearms technology. Effectively, it would be security and economic suicide.

            b. Manufactures already transfer responsibility to the purchaser, but the assumption of liability would become impenetrable and effectively immunize manufacturers. We’d be at the same point as today.

            c. In all likelihood, tort law reforms would be jammed through that would significantly reduce recovery for those allegedly harmed – and not just limited to guns. Good news: you won the defective air bag suit, bad news you can only collect $500 and you owe your lawyer $10,000.

            Anti-gun advocates promote the idea of “sensible laws”, but their proposals are ill-conceived and feckless. Ultimately, they do more harm.

          • Suicides and accidental deaths are two aspects of the problem. Another aspect is that gun manufacturers are selling rifles designed as military assault weapons. The first case that is exploiting a loophole in the 2005 law is winding its way through the courts. With luck, Remington will have to pay for all of the damage their rifle caused at Sandy Hook.


          • I guess using that logic that Mercedes should be sued because their truck was used to plow into the crowd in France during the Bastille day celebrations last month?

          • You’re confused. The purpose of a military assault rifle is to kill people. The purpose of a Mercedes truck is not to kill. What is the logical relationship between these two statements?

          • I’ve never seen them line up people to kill at a rifle range. But I haven’t visited them all. Perhaps you have…

          • “gun manufacturers are selling rifles designed as military assault weapons”.

            Nope. Some MSRs – modern sporting rifles bear a resemblance to military firearms and may have some common parts, but they are not *designed* as a mass killing machine, nor are they particularly effective as one.

            It would appear your objection is fashion-related, not function. There are much better choices available at Walmart, but don’t resemble those in Call of Duty-type video games. The murderous Columbine students recognized this. One firearm was a MSR, but their other 3 were not. The other firearms were primarily responsible for the fatalities – read the incident report.

            The Remington argument is novel. Plaintiffs argue that Remington’s marketing is responsible for Sandy Hook. If it prevails, then we should expect a flood of similar litigation. Easy to imagine that car manufacturers would be liable if an ad and racing stripes were responsible for an owner’s reckless driving and subsequent fatalities.

          • The problem is a simple one. Gun owners like yourself believe that guns make you safe and no amount of rational discussion (or statistics on gun deaths) will change your belief. So the answer is with the courts–sue the hell out of the manufacturers and then safety changes that protect the public will come.

          • Mr. Miller, it is you who are confused and, likely, quite ignorant of the facts of firearm design and manufacture.

            The FACT is that although an AR-15 type rifle or carbine might bear a superficial resemblance to ACTUAL military-grade carbines and rifles, there are many differences in design and function.

            The FACT is that there are other types of rifles – commonly available on the civilian market – which are far more effective at the task of killing people and things than are AR-15 type carbines and rifles. They are called hunting rifles and they come in a dizzying array of forms, none of which have been banned.

            The FACT is that a frequent complaint of PROFESSIONAL WARFIGHTERS is that the M-16/M-4 rifle to which the AR-15 bears said superficial resemblance is, in POINT OF FACT, not particularly effective at the task of killing the enemy.

            The FACT is that pressure cooker bombs (for instance) are VASTLY more effective at the task of killing people than ANY firearm available on the civilian market. Not only that, but they are easier to make and easier to deploy. Hence the horrific success of the Tsarnaev brothers.

          • Thank you for blowing smoke. The following is from ThinkProgress.

            In late 1999, the Clinton administration announced it would pursue a lawsuit against the firearms industry, on behalf of public housing authorities who spent billions annually trying to protect residents from gun violence., President Clinton said the aim was not to bankrupt manufacturers and dealers but to make them be more careful about “with whom they deal,” change “irresponsible marketing practices,” and make “some safety design changes.”

            The gun lobby was unconvinced and one company decried the effort as “tantamount to harassment.

            The approach showed early dividends. In March 2000, Smith & Wesson agreed to a settlement that included a promise that the company would provide safety locking devices, invest in smart gun technology to limit use to the proper owner, limit magazine capacity for its new firearms, cut off dealers and distributors with a history of selling to criminals, and prevent authorized dealers from selling at gun shows where any arm sales are permitted without background checks.

            The NRA decried the “Smith & Wesson sell-out” as an “act of craven self-interest.” The group wrote at the time that “the true intent of this agreement is to force down the throats of an entire lawful industry anti-gun policies rejected by the Congress, rejected by legislatures across America, and rejected by the judges who have dismissed their lawsuits in whole or in part nearly without exception.” And it moved swiftly to ensure that others would not follow.

            Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — the secretive free-market lobbying group that brings together conservative politicians and major corporate interests including the tobacco and gun lobbies — it pushed a “Defense of Free Market and Public Safety Resolution” to hurt Smith & Wesson’s ability to sell to law enforcement.

            “ALEC helped to try to punish the one component of the industry that agreed to these measures,” Graves recalled, discouraging local police “from buying guns from Smith & Wesson — for daring to go along with safety [measures] designed to keep kids safe.”

            When the NRA’s preferred candidate, George W. Bush, was inaugurated in January 2001, his new HUD secretary Mel Martinez quickly ended the department’s involvement in the lawsuits ALEC and the NRA worked at the same time to successfully encourage many states to prohibit local lawsuits against the gun and ammo industries.

            Next, the NRA and its Congressional allies set about eliminating the threat of state or local action, once and for all. In 2005, Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which effectively shielded the gun industry from legal liability when their products are used in criminal and unlawful activities.

          • Mr. Miller,

            I agree with your assertion about weaponry. It is true that some sporting arms bear a great resemblance to military weaponry (in defense of your detractors), but consider the ammunition. the design of .223 ammunition was to exchange bullet weight for velocity. the .223 round is nothing more than a hyper velocity .22. This was designed initially for varmints and, ultimately, people.

      • “Gun owners like yourself believe that guns make you safe and no amount of rational discussion (or statistics on gun deaths) will change your belief.”

        Interesting that you have devined my beliefs, immutability, opposition to rational discussion, and statistics ignorance [let’s ignore my appreciation of Spearman’s rho and data waterboarding techniques incorporated in Hemenway’s tragically flawed paper].

        Seems like a psychological projection response – not “rational discussion”. I’d like to see a reduction in gun aggression and attendant fatalities. AFAIK, every lawful firearms enthusiast and manufacturer supports that objective too.

        But ill-conceived advocacy like “sue the hell out of the manufacturers and then safety changes that protect the public will come.” have little to no grounding in reality. These claims reflect a profound ignorance of the tort system, product liability case law, and product design.

        Exactly what ‘safety changes that protect the public’ are feasible? How will litigation accelerate technology breakthroughs, when it hasn’t elsewhere?

        We have statistics on firearms fatalities where they’ve been banned and where severely limited. The outcome parallels our success with the separate Wars on Poverty and Drugs. Trillions spent and virtually no sustainable benefit. About the same percentage continue to live below the poverty line and consume drugs. Arguably the drug problem has grown worse as measured by the growth in the drug economy and Mexico has become, practically speaking, a failed state.

        Other than ‘sue the hell out of manufacturers’ what else to lower gun aggression?

  8. Josh, my respect for your journalism skills continues to decline. Your bias isn’t as troubling to me as your easily refuted claims. More fact-checking negligence:
    a. “preventing the public from accessing high-powered weapons will make it more difficult for people suffering from mental illness”. Nope. 2 of your 3 supporting instances have no mental illness connection. Adam Lanza, yes. And you omitted the worst: Anders Breivik’s shooting of 77 children in Norway.

    In theory, Breivik would be prevented from legally acquiring a firearm in the US. His psych eval would have put him on the NCIC prohibited list. Ditto for Lanza. But Lanza stole firearms from his mother’s gun safe, and Breivik legally purchased them in Norway. AFAIK, other US mass shooting incidents lack a mental illness connection. Terrorism far outweighs mass shooting deaths – not mental illness.

    Suicide is responsible for about 2/3rd of US gun deaths. But people find alternate, effective means when guns are restricted as evidenced in other countries. Check suicide rankings by county.

    b. “Banning armor-piercing bullets enhances police safety”. Nope, “green tips” weren’t used in Dallas or other shootings per published reports. The M855 round (which triggered the controversy) is a popular hunting round. Tests show that virtually all popular hunting rounds can pierce police armor.

    c. “Reducing civilian firepower is an obvious measure to enhance police safety”. It’s not obvious, nor have gun bans made LEO safer – check the facts. While police safety is important, my priority is family and personal safety.

    d. The cited study linking gun prevalence to police homicides has been thoroughly discredited – even though there may be a relationship. The authors cherry-picked data and employed a self-serving statistical technique to reach their desired conclusion. Co-author David Hemenway is financed by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Independent academics have cited numerous problems with Hemenway’s research. He’s the modern poster-child for How To Lie With Statistics.

    I’d really like to discover credible research to reduce violence without unintended consequences elsewhere in our society. So far that been birth control, early childhood education, and child nutrition. Gun violence has steadily declined and dropped by over 50% since 1980. Gun control legislation has not been identified as a factor in the decline.

    “Why do you think police officers are so opposed to stronger gun control?” Why not ask cops?

    But if I had to speculate, many LEO have a somewhat jaded view of humanity. They see us at our worst. Seasoned officers are skeptical about magical cures that promise revolutionary change. Many probably wonder how many lives could have been saved or crime prevented were a victim armed when they visit a crime scene. Roughly 500,000 DGUs (brandishing is a type of Defensive Gun Use) saves thousands each year according to studies even antigun proponents accept.

    Cops know that stolen guns are used in about 80% of gun crime. They know that gun-buy back programs are merely expensive theater. Penalizing law abiding gun owners doesn’t make cops safer, nor the communities they serve and protect.


      Just guessing, but I would say that Josh is unconvinced.

      The reason I can say that is that I personally don’t know of a single instance where a committed anti-gun true believer ever changed his or her mind.

      Gun control is not an evidence-based belief. It is socialization-based.

      • SJOTB,
        I’ve read of victims of violent crime reversing their view. This includes the band performing during the Paris attack. Some of the people I meet at gun ranges tell me they were opposed to firearms, but decided to acquire one after a frightening experience. One was a Santa Clara County judge training for a concealed carry after his life was threatened.

        I encourage Josh to defend his beliefs with better arguments. I’d like to think my views are malleable when confronted by persuasive information. It’s important to recognize and admit when one’s position ceases to be supported by evidence.

      • Actually we have a new convert to the ranks of want to be gun owners, after this very nice liberal lady had her purse snatched in Walnut creek last week. She is very angry she can’t just buy a gun at any corner store and
        get a licence to kill for the sheriff’s department.

        Another Hillary supporter that’s now voting for Trump!

    • “So far that been birth control, early childhood education, and child nutrition. ”

      So much this. There are ways to prevent some the kind of violence the motivates gun safety advocates. There are other easier (politically) upstream solutions that may work better.

      Question – why do we need some of those crazy “assault rifle” type weapons? Is there a way to prevent those from falling into the hands of perpetrators of Columbine or Sandy Hook while still helping people protect themselves who feel they need it to protect themselves(I don’t at all but can see that others do)…?

      • A big problem is that “assault weapon” lacks an accepted definition. Technically, it mean an automatic firearm and these have been banned for civilians since 1934. Calling a MSR – modern sporting rifle an “assault weapon” began as a political term in the 1980s. A black AR-15 may appear sinister, but they are actually less lethal than many rifles with wooden stocks. AR-15s are among the most popular rifles because they are less expensive to manufacture, easily customized and repaired.

        Why should any frugal hunter or target shooter, want to use a heavier, more expensive, less accurate rifle?

        AR-15s are not particularly good for personal defense. Hard to conceal, heavy, and bulky compared to a handgun. Any rifle is more accurate beyond a few dozen feet for most, but personal defense encounters are typically less than a car length. An AR-15 is better than nothing, but far from a good choice for personal defense.

        Rifles (black, pink, etc.) account for about 2% of US gun deaths. All of the firearms in Columbine were “straw purchased” – bought on behalf of another. People much smarter than I haven’t determined how to get others to behave lawfully and responsibly. We do know that political theatrics like proposing “assault weapon” AKA black gun bans won’t make any tangible difference in the deaths of innocents.

        • IMO, it’s okay to inconvience hunters to lower the impact of mass shootings…we have to make trade offs. I feel like cops would prefer if random unstable folks couldn’t get AR-15s. Hardened criminals who know how to get such weapons on the black market will get but I’m not sure if average criminal let alone unstable teenager knows how to get one off the street.

          It just seems like rapidly being able to fire a lot of bullets is dangerous and if we can lower that risk hunters can still hunt (people hunted for generations with these like bolt action rifles or muskets…)

          If there weren’t as many of these weapons around then it would be as easy to strawpurchase them it would seem…

          I agree with the view that politically the reality is NRA and the like are pretty formidable politically because for their base guns are the major issue all the time whereas everyone else only cares when the headlines come out but don’t sustain it. There has to be way persuade gun enthusiasts that some gun safety measures are cool and aren’t “taking away your rights”…

          • Associates, Not sure of your definition of firing “a lot of bullets”, but my *pistol* rate of fire is faster than an AR-15’s rating. And I shoot with folks light years better as they often remind me.

            Manufacturers generally recommend a sustained 12-15 rounds / minute for an AR-15 to avoid overheating the barrel though a higher burst rate of 45 RPM is OK by at least one.

            My unmodified pistol rate of fire is more than 2X the AR-15 recommendation, others have demonstrated over 30X. Rifle and pistol magazines are limited to 10 rounds in CA. And I can swap pistol magazines faster and reload one faster than a rifle magazine.

            Standard (e.g. 17 round) and higher capacity magazines are banned in CA. Those of us that practice can put the same amount of lead downrange using smaller capacity magazines by rapidly swapping them. Smaller capacities are an inconvenience, but don’t materially change outcomes.

            NetNet: if ‘danger’ is measured by sustained rate of fire using legal (no automatics / machine guns) firearms, then pistols win – or the difference becomes trivial. No reason to believe that mass shootings would be less frequent or less tragic if MSRs were prohibited.

            “I feel like cops would prefer if random unstable folks couldn’t get AR-15s.” Suspect all law abiding citizens share that preference. Haven’t met any gun owners that favor arming homicidal psychotics.

            “not sure if average criminal let alone unstable teenager knows how to get one off the street.” Arrest records indicate they do. Agree that building a firearm might be more daunting for some, but there are plenty of Youtube videos to assist.

            Keep in mind that rifles account for a small number (about 2%) of homicides. Criminals overwhelming use handguns.

          • “IMO, it’s okay to inconvience (sic) hunters to lower the impact of mass shootings…we have to make trade offs.”

            The Framers of the Constitution disagreed with you, vigorously, thoroughly and profoundly. They held that the right of self-defense is an *uNALIENALBE* right fundamental to human existence. It is for this reason that they wrote the 2nd Amendment and held – in virtually every Originalist writing in support of the 2nd Amendment – that it is as fundamental and unalienable as the rights to uninfringed speech, religious practice, assembly, ownership of property and sanctity of personhood.

            “I feel like cops would prefer…”

            Your assertion has no merit in fact and, in point of fact the national survey conducted by Police One, mentioned in the article above contradicts your ‘feeling’ pretty soundly.

            Speaking as a police officer, what I DO advocate for is rigorous mental health treatment options available to law enforcement but which do NOT transform police officers into psychologists, therapists or psychiatrists. I also advocate for draconian penalties and punishments for criminals who commit gun-related offenses. And, I also advocate for more effective border security and homeland security.

            Gun control is a panacea. We have seen that in France, last November. None of the firearms used in the Paris attack could have been acquired legally. We have seen this elsewhere. In point of fact, other than in the US, Israel and Switzerland, the right to own firearms of any kind is very limited or non-existent in pretty much every nation. That hasn’t stopped Honduras from being the murder capital of the world. Nor has it stopped firearm-related homicides in Mexico or anywhere else in Latin America, or anywhere in Africa or Anywhere in Europe or Asia.

            Gun controls are, at best, an inconvenience to criminals but the facts don’t support that such laws are, in any way, a meaningful barrier to acquisition.

      • More Americans are killed with hands and feet each year than with any type of rifle, including the military-styled ones.

  9. The only person I can conceive of who would be more biased against citizen gun ownership than a Stanford professor is a UC Berkeley professor.

  10. It’s very simple: when seconds count, the police are only MINUTES away. The cops can’t be everywhere, and they know it. An armed citizen is infinitely more likely to both stop a violent crime being attempted against them, and survive the encounter with little or no injury as well. That’s been proven by the peer-reviewed and published research of Dr. Gary Kleck, PhD (who has nothing to do with the NRA, and in fact is only a member of one organization, the ACLU). He admitted in the forward of his book that his extensive study (still the largest of its scientific kind on this topic) that he originally sought to prove that guns in the hands of private citizens does more harm than good, but once his data proved the exact opposite he held fast to his intellectual integrity and published his work anyway.

    Kleck’s work makes an estimate of between 1,000,000 and 2,500,000 defensive gun uses per YEAR by Americans. We don’t hear about these things because his study also determined that in the overwhelming majority of cases, no shot is ever fired: merely brandishing the gun (any gun, pistols and those ‘scary’ rifles included) in determined self-defense stops the crime. And as we know with the media, “if it bleeds it leads”; good news about citizen gun ownership doesn’t sell ad space, apparently, despite how many lives are saved annually by guns. Even the FBI’s estimate is quite huge, at about 300,000 self-defensive gun uses per year; Kleck’s study addressed that too, discovering that in many cases people simply never *reported* the attempted crime against them and their subsequent self-defensive gun use (probably another reason why they go under-reported).

    The bottom line is, guns in the hands of American citizens do far, far more good than bad. And most cops know this. Who should we listen to on this topic? Street cops who deal with life & death every day? Or politicians who would prefer an unarmed polity?

  11. I think part of it may be cops are more familiar with guns and therefore less afraid of them. My daughter, who is somewhat timid and risk averse, spent a few years in rural Oklahoma. It’s common out there to have a rifle propped up in the corner of a room and she became very comfortable with being around guns. When she returned to San Jose I was somewhat shocked to hear she was interested in purchasing one.

    I know this is just a single anecdote, but I can’t help but wonder if people who fear guns do so because they have no experience with them. In the same manner, cops obviously have no fear of guns because they handle them quite often.

  12. Why isn’t amending the Constitution ever seriously considered? It’s been done dozens of times before. If the ‘gun problem’ is that serious, amending the operative law should be easy-peasy.

    There’s more than one answer. The first reason is that they know they can’t get past that hurdle. They may believe in their hearts that they’re doing the right thing. But they’re fooling themselves; it’s called Noble Cause Corruption. Their belief in all the good they’re doing supersedes mundane obstacles like the law of the land, and the rights and property of the affected citizens, and the rules for amending the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

    What they don’t realize (or more accurately, what they won’t admit) is that they’re corrupt. Which brings up the other reason they won’t do things the right way, per the rules: as we’ve seen more and more recently, many judges are no longer impartial. They don’t even pretend to be neutral. Their personal biases include Noble Cause Corruption, and mis-using the law is easy for corrupt judges who want to disarm the citizens. And we can be certain that the same groups intent on confiscating the arms of American citizens know all the players on the bench. Judge-shopping is standard practice.

    So the corrupt — but easy — way to disarm the citizenry is to subvert the 2nd Amendment one step (and one judge) at a time. That’s what they’re doing. They know that if they tried to repeal the 2nd Amendment by using the rules, American citizens would set them straight.

    If I’m wrong, maybe the author can post a thoughtful reply, explaining why there’s never been a movement to repeal the 2nd Amendment by amending the Constitution. The method is explicit, and there have been plenty of other amendments showing that it can be done — IF that’s what United States citizens want… and there’s the rub.

    Finally, a comment on links: they’re totally cherry-picked, for example this one from the linked ‘WonkBlog’:

    Notice the grading, from A to F: A,B,C,D… F. But no ‘E’. Guess who gets the ‘F’: it’s the states that follow the Constitution. But notice that no state gets an ‘A’ or an ‘A+’. No doubt that’s because every state still allows at least some citizens to possess firearms. When they’re completely disarmed, then their state will get an A+.

    Honest, law abiding citizens are at a disadvantage because they obey the law. But the corrupt powers that be (TPTB) are in a position to disregard any laws or rules that get in the way of their noble cause of trashing the Bill of Rights. If someone can explain why circumventing the Constitution’s specific rules and the amendment process is A-OK, I’d like to hear that talking point.

    • Well said Smoky,
      If we look at Washington DC with it’s very strict gun control laws and overwhelming law enforcement presents you would think this should be the safest place on the planet.
      Having be been born there,I and anyone living there can tell you to stay off the streets at night and be carful the rest of the time.

  13. “However, not all states supported a positive correlation between the 2 variables. For example, Wyoming had the highest firearm ownership rate and zero LEO homicides,whereas the District of Columbia had the lowest firearm ownership rate and was int he highest quintile for homicide rates. It appeared that both the state levels of firearm prevalence and violent crimes affected the LEO homicide rate; however, further research is necessary to identify other state-level predictors
    of LEO homicide rates.”

    It bears repeating: NO LEO homicides in a 15 year period in the state with the HIGHEST firearm ownership rate. Kinda of pulls the rug from under the entire study, no? Obviously they didn’t control for all factors.

    What is interesting to take from the study is that in the 34 states that were part of the study, over a 15 year period 348 LEOs were killed via firearm. There were about 5.6 million LEO officers employed during that period in those states.

    While any number of officer homicides is unacceptable, with the rates being so incredibly low, does that fact justify compromising our civil liberties – which, for better or worse, includes the Second Amendment?

    How about looking at better officer training, and/or enhanced safety equipment, etc. Why is the knee-jerk reaction always to reduce our civil liberties?

    • Gregory, You’ve identified one of many problems with the “study”. Only a few bother to read it. Instead, most take the headline: “Police 3 Times More Likely To Be Shot In Gun States” as gospel. There’s a stunning amount of ignorance and misinformation about guns, gun owners, and shootings.

      Reminds me of Winston Churchill’s quote “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

      • > Reminds me of Winston Churchill’s quote “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

        Or, to put it another way,

        “Democracy is government by the stupidest and most easily manipulated fifty-one percent of the population.”

  14. Who are you going to believe? Stanford professors or poets?

    Second Amendment Haiku

    buy meat at market
    gun is for shooting tyrant
    housebreaker eat lead

  15. > Stanford Expert: Strict Gun Laws Make Police, Communities Safer

    I used to commend Stanford grads that I thought Stanford was “a very good second tier school”.

    But then, I had my intelligence insulted one too many times by Stanford’s Naughty Children’s Marching Band.

    I wonder if the policy expertise of this “Stanford Expert” might match the performance expertise of the Stanford so-called Marching Band?

  16. They’re probably afraid if they advocate for better mental health services, it will fall on them since that’s what the public continues to seem to do… push better mental health services by pretending to train police and better accommodating mentally ill inmates rather than actually improving mental health services. No? Just look at the county’s plan to increase mental health services in their new jail and their non-existent plan to provide actual mental health services prior to anyone getting arrested, stabbed, shot, killed, etc.

    As for advocating for better gun control.. many cops I know are for universal background checks and better actual mental health systems. Most are aware that the 40% of guns sold through the private sales loopholes in many states account for more than half the crimes committed with guns. But CA style gun control? It’s ridiculous and punitive to the vast majority of gun owners who have done and will do nothing wrong. Databases, multiple background checks, piling on overzealous restrictions that ultimately just make it difficult to own a gun. They will never support that, nor should they. CA doesn’t want ‘gun control’ they want to make it so difficult to own a gun that fewer and fewer actually want to. Cops seem to understand the difference between a gun control law that might provide some public safety vs. a gun law that is being passed for no reason other than political pandering to get votes.

  17. Well Josh looks like the overwhelming majority of readers has again agreed with you,
    Just Kidding!

    Why don’t you try to ban pediphiles?

  18. “But one thought of Donahue’s should be the standard by which we have the debate: “A fundamental principle is that civilians should have no more firepower than is demonstrably needed for lawful purposes.””

    While many hold that ‘taxation without representation was the catalyst for the American Revolution, the reality that British Imperial gun control laws were as much a catalyst for the American Revolution as their system of taxation, if not more so. The following link is to an article which does a thorough job of documenting just how British-imposed controls of firearms, powder and policies of confiscation – often by force – actually were primary causes of the American Revolution. I don’t need to repeat the scholarly work to which I am linking, but I would like to offer some thoughts on it, on gun control laws, and on the 2nd Amendment.

    Many (predominantly liberal) scholars, pundits, politicians, and activists hold that the only – or primary – purpose of the 2nd Amendment is for hunting. That this belief has been debunked, repeatedly, by the US Supreme Court, and elsewhere, seems not to matter much to those who seek to severely curtail and, eventually eliminate the protections offered Americans by the 2nd Amendment.

    The reality is that the 2nd Amendment was the Framers means of ensuring security and liberty for all Americans. Gun control in their time was tool of tyranny, and it has been and continues to be throughout the world. Gun control was one of the first policies enacted by the Nazis, and by the Soviets, and this pattern is repeated in every repressive regime on the planet. The founders held that gun *ownership* was, therefore, a defense against tyranny of every kind – whether the tyranny of a repressive regime or the tyranny of the criminal element. This is why they wrote,

    “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.”

    Shall. Not. Be. Infringed.

    Demonstrably needed for lawful purposes???

    The security of a free state. Personal security. Security against Tyranny.

    That is the Lawful Purpose.

    And who is to tell me or any other law-abiding citizen what I – or they – can or should be allowed to purchase to secure MY PERSONAL LIBERTY?

    The Framers understood NO ONE should be allowed to make that call except for the individual in question. This is why they wrote Shall. Not. Be. Infringed.

    It’s a slippery slope. And the logic too many use to justify limiting ownership of modern firearms can just as easily be applied to the First Amendment.

    “Well, the prevalent firearm in the time of the Revolution was the musket. Maybe no one needs to own a semi-automatic rifle? Maybe no one needs to own a lever action rifle? Maybe no one needs to own a semi-automatic pistol? Maybe no one needs to own a revolver? After all, those were ALL brought into common use WAY after the Revolution.”

    Well, OK. Then the only media that should be unrestricted by the government is the newspaper. That was the ONLY media format in common use at the time of the revolution. Oh. And Town Criers. So, let’s let the government impose whatever controls IT deems necessary or prudent on…
    Radio. Television. Telegraph. The Internet. After all, those were ALL invented well after the revolution.

    And, while we’re at it, some religions weren’t in practice or invented at the time of the revolution. Let’s let the government impose controls on Mormons. On Seventh Day Adventists. Or the Foursquare Church. Or Scientologists.

    See where I’m going with this? See how EASY and LOGICAL tyranny can be?

    • “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.” What was the purpose of these militias? Every white male in the South was required to join a militia to hunt for escaped slaves and to break up plots against the slave masters. Since the North was mostly against slaves, did the southern states feel that the newly formed army would take over the militias and not be able to enforce slavery? Was the second amendment a condition for the southern states especially Virginia to join the other colonies?

      • The newly established USA did not want a standing army that would consume massive amounts of resources, and tempt the government to use it. Instead, every able bodied man between 17 and 45 would be part of the militia, to be summoned when necessary to repel invasion and suppress insurrection. Militia suppressed Shay’s Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and so on.
        Even as late as the Civil War, the Union Army was only 3% Regular Army, the rest were volunteers.

        • Are you saying that there were no politics involved in the writing of the constitution? Look at the Thom Hartmann video in my previous post and then decide for yourself.

          • Shay’s Rebellion occurred DURING the development of the new Constitution.
            The revisionist Carl Bogus thesis did not crop up for another two centuries.

  19. I read the response of “OFFICERANONYMOUS,” a recently retired police officer. I felt both responses were very thoughtful and well written responses to a pretty provocative article.

    One message that “OFFICERANONYMOUS” eluded to but did not spell out clearly is: it is all about accountability. Why don’t we allow people to behave how they want and hold them accountable? If we enforced the thousands of gun laws we have in this country, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Whether you choose to exercise your personal freedoms is your choice. If you do not want to speak at a council meeting or stand up at a rally to voice your concerns, that is your choice. If you want to print your views on racial issues or how politics has gone awry, also your choice. You have the freedom to exercise your right to free speech or not. No one can take that away, unless you misuse it (like yelling “fire” in a movie theater or “bomb” on a plane or saying something that will incite a riot). If you do that, you are impacting other’s freedoms and that is not tolerated.

    So, if we take the 2nd Amendment as a core principal of our county, then chipping away at the freedoms it provides people to defend themselves or our country is a real problem. No law abiding gun owner will ever suggest that anyone has the right to shoot someone….unless they are imminently threatening the life or safety of themselves or another innocent person. And if someone that is trained and educated as a responsible gun owner, something I would suggest is not prevalent in our society, the responsible gun owner knows the consequences of pulling the trigger. NO LAW ABIDING GUN OWNER EVER WANTS TO SHOOT ANYONE. PERIOD. Yet, when the politicians want to write nice gun restricting laws because of a mass shooting or other tragedy, all they are doing is chipping away at the inherent freedoms of our society. Does anyone need 40 handguns in their safe? No. But if that is something they want and they are responsible for the firepower they own, why is this a problem? Does owning 40 handguns make someone bad? Are they more dangerous than a billionaire with 35 sports cars and goes out drinking and racing them on our streets? What are the chances that someone reading this will have a couple beers after work and drive home? Have they endangered more lives than the person that owns 40 handguns?

    What really is infuriating to watch on the news or with local politicians, is their lack of education on what they are talking about with regards to firearms. They don’t know the difference between a silencer and a flash suppressor or a semi-auto to full auto. They use buzzwords because they sound good. They pass laws that protect no one because they think it will make people safer or that they think they are making a difference or it shows they are doing something. Sorry, but all these laws do is make firearms more expensive in California and make it harder or impossible for those less fortunate monetarily to legally own a weapon. And if getting a firearm is a priority for someone, do we really think any gun law will stop them?

    Last year, I watched a debate on CNN where Anderson Cooper held a Town Hall meeting with President Obama. Many in the audience were gun friendly, but others were not. Among the not so friendly ones and the last one to speak at the meeting was Mark Kelly (Gabby Gifford’s husband). He decided to use his intellect to try and make a mockery of the risk of confiscation of all guns. His point, I believe, was to say that there are too many guns to ever confiscate. He asked the question of the President “hypothetically” in the following way (this is not a quote).
    He said: Let’s just say there was a way to identify 300 million items in this country. And if, for some reason, the federal government decided to gather up and collect all 300 million items. Can you please explain how this would work?

    Sure, seems like a joke. How could the government round up 300 million anything (i.e., guns)? I would suggest…pretty easily: Make them illegal. If the government decided to make all gun illegal, guess what, the law abiding gun owners can now either legally turn their guns in, or they stop being law abiding….they become criminals. Now, do I think people would just turn their guns in? No. But what then happens is you have created a bunch of criminals. How does the government round them up? I would suggest that is a false assumption/statement. The fact is, you have a bunch of gun owners that will be the hands of the government that turn them in. Then what do you have? The only people left with guns are Law Enforcement and criminals. Is that what we want?

    To Josh, I would like to suggest that rather than throwing gasoline on a fire with articles like this, why don’t you volunteer (or coordinate) a forum where a real debate about solutions can exist. Not something run by the NRA or the Giffords or Bloomberg. It would be staffed by civilians, law enforcement, and people interested in actually figuring out what might work. Neither extreme works. Trying to legislate everything because you’re scared of how scary something looks is not the answer (do monster trucks scare people…sure they do). Let’s talk about accountability. Let’s talk about education. Let’s talk about responsibility. Let’s talk about training. Let’s talk about costs. Let’s talk about safety. Let’s talk about process. These are things that matter to both gun owners and gun control advocates. Because guess what, gun owners want the same thing anti-gun people want: safety and the freedom to not be scared.

    So, I challenge you Josh. You raised the issue of guns, so let’s run with it. I am pretty sure we are on opposite side of the issue so I’d be happy to debate it with you. Let’s build our team of experts and representatives for our beliefs. Let’s debate this in public and start a meaningful discussion. Rather than just cite national polls that we can all use to make our case, let’s use local talent and resources. Sure, use national info too, but why don’t we dig into the fabric of our local community in the Bay Area and get them to participate. Who knows, maybe even a legislator or two will join and participate.

    In the spirit of innovation, problem solving, and leadership, what do you think? You up for it? You know how to reach me.

    Kind regards,


    • Thanks – many valid points. I suspect most, if not all gun owners are frustrated by the scale of gun-related deaths and failure to enforce existing laws. Instead, legislators invent new ones that are even less likely to show positive outcomes.

      * Suicide accounts for about 2/3rds of gun deaths. Primarily men, ages 35-65, and disproportionately vets. Our VA healthcare system remains a national disgrace. Our prevention and treatment funding is miniscule. Using Stanford’s value of life ($9M), the cost to society is $198 billion / year.

      * Failure to enforce laws. About 25% of Obama’s pardons involve gun crime. He’s pardoned more than all previous presidents combined. DA’s often drop serious gun charges or charge for a lesser offense. DOJ rarely enforces straw purchase violations. Straw purchases and theft are the largest source (about 80%) of guns used in crime.

      * Inconsistent Sentencing. John Hinckley will be released tomorrow after 35 years for wounding Reagan and Brady; Fromme spent 34 years in prison for attempting to kill Ford. A gun murder sentence carries a minimum 7-10 year sentence, yet our system allows felons to be released much sooner. About 75% of released felons reoffend within 5 years.

      and many, many more examples. Our officials conveniently ignore prudent measures, turn a blind eye to the abject enforcement failures of existing ones, and expect that new laws will magically cure violence.

  20. > Since the North was mostly against slaves, did the southern states feel that the newly formed army would take over the militias and not be able to enforce slavery?

    Who knew? According to Robert Miller’s progressive hottentot mouthpiece, Thomas Hartmann, the Second Amendment wasn’t about DEER HUNTING, as the Democratic Party claque has been claiming, but it was about hunting down runaway slaves. Undoubtedly, BLACK runaway slave (wink, wink). So the Second Amendment is really . . . . RAYCISS!!!!!!

    Fortunately, the astute and snarky JoshSN mocked Hartmann’s ridiculous thesis even better than I could:

    ” I am proud of Thom Hartmann for coming out with his pro-gun stance, against the massive tide of emotional reactions to a recent spate of deadly shootings.

    Mr. Hartmann clearly states that to keep slaves they must be disarmed.

    Mr. Hartmann would never want us to become slaves, so, naturally, the only logical conclusion is that he wouldn’t want us to be disarmed.”

  21. I added a video link to my response where Hartmann documents his case. Rather than comment on Hartmann’s sources, you draw some weird conclusion about keeping people from becoming slaves by arming everyone.

    As I continue to state a significant portion of this county is authoritarian and there is no way to reason with them. So, the only way we are going to reduce gun violence is to sue the hell out of the gun manufacturers. We can unlock an iPhone, computer, or a tablet with a fingerprint, but there is no way we can use the same technology with weapons. This is absolutely insane.

    • > Rather than comment on Hartmann’s sources, you draw some weird conclusion about keeping people from becoming slaves by arming everyone.


      YOU connected the 2nd Amendment to runaway slaves.

      It’s YOUR weird conclusion, not mine.

    • Five percent of police feloniously killed on the job were killed with their own gun, according to FBI statistics. A further ten percent had their guns taken off their corpses. These facts strongly suggest that the group most likely to benefit from these fingerprint activators is the police. Across the country, they have enough buying power to fund smart gun R&D. Indeed, President Obama has offered to use the federal government’s buying power towards that purpose.

    • Mr. Miller, Again your assertions have no basis in fact.

      False Reject Rate (just 1 of 7 metrics to assess biometric technology) ranged from 35% to 66% per one testing lab that assessed fingerprint devices. Keep in mind that biometric technology requires a power source, sensor, memory, processor and additional electromechanical components – all of which add additional failure opportunities. They’re also inadequate to handle firearm environmentals: extreme temperatures, moisture, vibration, mechanical shock, EMI – electromagnetic interference, and other characteristics that will immobilize your phone, tablet, and computer. Results are even worse when things like finger dirt, cuts and abrasions, contact dermatitis, etc. were studied.

      Then there’s latency. An assailant can fire 6-10 rounds while a microprocessor decides if I’m authorized. This might shrink a bit with evolving technology, but the pace of advancement has been slowing. And lastly, spoofing. Peel-off fingerprint impressions defeat biometric scanners. A cottage industry would arise to neuter stolen biometric firearms.

      This isn’t speculation – it’s already been demonstrated by hackers that acquired a biometric firearm (subsequently discontinued because it didn’t work, nor sell). The BlackHat conference this week in Las Vegas has many sessions on hacking biometrics.

      Do try to exercise a bit of critical thinking. If biometrics were feasible for firearms, wouldn’t a more compelling use be credit & debit cards? Cards and card readers are in far less environmentally hostile areas than firearms, yet have proven completely inadequate. Also the “authorized user” problem. I want my spouse to use my card should the need arise – and my gun. Something electronic gadgets don’t accommodate.

      “I continue to state a significant portion of this county is authoritarian and there is no way to reason with them.” More correctly, “I throw temper tantrums and use ad hominem attacks when others reject my claims”.

      I admire your passion and suggest it’s misplaced. Why not focus on causes and conditions that result in injuries and homicides rather than than on an implement? It’s something gun owners embrace as evidenced in the comments.

    • Robert, to say that not including technology in a firearm is “absolutely insane” is really unfortunate. It’s extreme statements like this that foster the lack of discussion that exists today.

      Why don’t we put fingerprint access on medicine bottles or automobiles? Why not have fingerprint access to open a folding knife? I’m a technology guy, so hearing how to integrate technology deeper into our environment is a good thing to me, but I don’t think your are thinking this one through.
      – What happens when the fingerprint reader takes two seconds to respond?
      – What happens if you have gloves on?
      – What happens if your had is wet or dirty?
      – What happens when the battery dies?

      I guess a question to ask is: What is the goal of putting a fingerprint on a weapon? Is it just to make sure the weapon is unusable by anyone by the owner? Is that really what you want?

      How about this: Install tracking devices or transponders that can be enabled if the “owner” does not reset them with a combination? Don’t we want to make sure the guns are where they should be?

      I think it is very dangerous to secure a weapon so no one can use it, unless you are Law Enforcement that has an assigned duty weapon. There “may” be a case for that, but even then, if an officer is in a gun fight and is wounded or a fellow officer picks up a weapon from a partner or weapon cache, that officer should know that they can defend them self.

      It all gets back to accountability. We live in a free society where anyone can do anything every day. When we ask to restrict freedoms people have, someone will monetize it and exploit it. Look at prohibition. Look at black market weapons, drugs, electronics, etc.

      Fingerprint access is fine as an option for people that want that, but to ever make that a mandate is dangerous.

      ***Josh***: Let’s come together and lead a discussion. I am confident it will be well attended.

      • I was in junior high school when the Soviets launched Sputnik andI I was a college senior twelve years later when we landed on the moon (the time delay was because of military service and not stupidity). Can you imagine all of the technology that had to be developed to accomplish the moon landing? What you and the others gun lovers are saying is that Americans today aren’t smart enough to make our weapons safer.

        As I mentioned in an earlier post Smith and Wesson was willing to make guns safer, but the NRA prevented them from doing so. The answer is to sue the gun companies and then there will be a reason for safer guns.

        • Robert, I am not saying that. I am sure we can come up with it. If we need to engineer the space shuttle into a weapon, about 15 people on the planet will be able to afford it. Technology is fallible.

          Suing the gun manufactures is like saying you are going to sue the cattle rancher or the butcher for obese people that goto McDonald’s for dinner. Maybe you could sue McDonald’s, but that would equate to suing the owner of the firearm. Either way, the manufacturer is not the target.

          • I disagree. The manufacturers, their trade association (NRA) and their political lobbying organization have created the problems that we have with weapons. Since the gutless people in the congress won’t act (even to fund gun research) the only option available is to punish the manufacturers.

            Are you against the values that made us great? When we don’t like something, we sue!!

        • Mr. Miller,
          Again your claims are laced with undefined and unsupported allegations. They are refuted by facts. S&W claims their revolvers are safe because the trigger pull is over 10 pounds (a stipulation in the S&W agreement); Glock claims theirs are safe due to the 3 independent safety systems. Exactly what constitutes a “safe gun” by your definition?

          Researchers have been laboring to discover cures for cancer and other diseases for far longer than the 9 year span from Kennedy’s speech to Apollo 11’s landing. Just because polio has been virtually eradicated in your lifetime doesn’t imply scientists have been negligent because cures for other diseases remain undiscovered.

          S&W was willing to sign an agreement when the only alternative was shuttering the business. The agreement did not require S&W to make safer guns – only that new models had to incorporate technology that didn’t exist and still doesn’t. Their existing firearms met all of the other “safe” criteria.

          It appears provisions of the agreement were never implemented in Clinton’s remaining term. Try to find any record of the required reporting or other aspects of the settlement. In retrospect, the settlement was just a PR stunt.

          The NRA did not, nor can they *prevent* S&W (or anyone else) from doing anything they choose. Were they, I suspect the NRA would have prevented S&W from signing the agreement.

          “the gutless people in the congress won’t act”. “only way we are going to reduce gun violence is to sue the hell out of the gun manufacturers.” Democracy can be unpleasant for those that want tyranny.

          I’d also suggest you have a misplaced understanding of the legal system. The plaintiff’s in the Remington case will likely end up like those in the Lucky Gunner case*. The plaintiffs lost, owe Lucky Gunner $203,000 in legal costs, and I believe filed for bankruptcy.

          *Lucky Gunner sold legally purchased ammo used in the Aurora cinema shooting.

          • There’s nothing else to say. The guns we have in this country are very safe and it’s the stupid people using them that are getting killed (including children who have really dumb parents).

            Enjoy your fantasy.

        • Mr. Miller,

          “it’s the stupid people using them that are getting killed (including children who have really dumb parents).” Again, let’s review facts.

          Centers for Disease Control: between 2007 and 2011, an average of 62 children age 14 and under were accidentally shot and killed each year in the US. CDC reports that about 12,175 children are accidentally killed each year. 0.005 or one half of 1%. The number of accidental child deaths is so small that the CDC doesn’t even use it as a separate category. It’s lumped under Miscellaneous.

          These accidental child deaths include drive-by & gang shootings, loaded gun cleaning accidents, SWAT sieges, police hostage rescue shootings, etc. These are not child deaths that could have been prevented by gun locks, “smart guns” (whatever that means), or gun safes. By contrast, child poisoning deaths are 10 times more frequent and motor vehicles accidents are 84 times more frequent.

          Every accidental death is a tragedy. But shouldn’t we make investments where they are likely to do the most good?

          About 2/3rds of gun deaths (i.e., about 22,000 / year) are suicides. Labeling suicide victims as “stupid” is shockingly uncompassionate. Perhaps this is a manifestation of Nobel Cause Corruption as another commented.

          What might have happened were you or your wife at home during your burglary [Mercury News 7/7/16]? The outcomes would likely be very different were you armed during a home invasion.

          These incidents are reported on almost every day. Would you be “stupid” for not having a firearm and household members getting killed or injured? Would the burglar be “stupid” for confronting an armed homeowner? Or “smart” if fleeing as is typically the case in Defensive Gun Use instances.

          “There’s nothing else to say.” Really – didn’t you want a “rational discussion”? And I’m eagerly awaiting your operational definition of a “smart gun” as a panacea for gun aggression. Instead, it remains a unicorn. You employ the ad hominem accusation of “fantasy” when your arguments are annihilated. And subsequently shut down any further “rational discussion”.

          I’m sorry you aren’t equipped for the intellectual challenge to defend your beliefs.

          • What don’t you understand?

            Major premise: The CDC can’t study gun violence and manufacturers can’t be sued
            Minor: premise: Change the laws
            Conclusion: Guns will become safer and we will know more about the kind of people that use guns

            In reference to your other point, some of us don’t live in fear. I got my medals for marksmanship when I was in the military and since 1967 there has never been a gun in my home. My thirty-two year old son won’t allow guns around his daughter. I’m sorry that you sit around worrying about the person who is going to rob your house.

          • The concept of “gun violence” was cooked up by the US Public Health industry in the 1970s. For the first time, homicides, suicides, and accidents involving firearms were lumped together, in the Surgeon General’s report: “Healthy People,” published in 1979. Before then, homicide was the province of criminologists, suicide belonged to psychiatrists/psychologists, and accidents were the province of safety experts.
            And, gun manufacturers can be sued. They just can’t be sued just because they built a safe and legal product, and put it in the stream of commerce.
            Finally, the ubiquity of gun ownership (47% of US households contain at least one gun, per the CBS/NYT poll of January, 2013) ensures that burglars will not break into an occupied home. Thus they commit their depredations in daylight, typically between 9 and 3.

        • Mr. Miller,
          Again, your relationship with facts appears tortured.
          “The CDC can’t study gun violence”
          False. In 1996, Congress added a CDC funding restriction “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” CDC continues to *report* on firearm injuries and researchers rely on their reports.

          A month after Sandy Hook (Dec 2012), President Obama issued an executive order authorizing CDC to “shall conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.” Baffling why 3.5 years later, research is MIA or why no one appears to have lost a job for failing to deliver a report the President authorized.

          I trust you realize CDC funding plays a small role in this area. Gun injuries and correlations with other factors continue to be a robust area of research despite the absence of CDC funding. The Hemenway paper is but one recent example.

          “manufacturers can’t be sued”
          False. Last month a federal judge approved a $239 million settlement against Taurus due to a product defect in their pistols.

          “Guns will become safer and we will know more about the kind of people that use guns” [if CDC is untethered]
          False. We know a great deal. Read the FBI UCR data, DOJ studies, and many, many more. There’s a tremendous amount of information on gun aggression and associations with various factors – including things like exposure to lead paint.

          Federal agencies such as the ATF, military branches, DOD, DOJ, Homeland Security and others sponsor or conduct an enormous amount of research into firearms and safety. President Obama mandated this research in 2013 and again in Jan 2016. Since 2000, over $12M has been provided to firearms manufacturers for various “smart” guns. And manufacturers have conducted their own research. Only two made it to market and both flopped. Too expensive, cumbersome, and unreliable. Buyers want bang -not beep- when the trigger is pulled.

          Maybe technical challenges will be overcome, but probably not soon. If serious, the R&D spend rate would be vastly greater than $12 million or ~$780K / year. The Apollo project you referenced cost over $24 billion. And the federal government would probably need to subsidize “smart guns” just as we do for electric vehicles and ethanol to promote use.

          • Take a couple of days off and then go back and review your comments. You spend so much of your time trying to be right that you miss the main point.

            You said, “A month after Sandy Hook (Dec 2012), President Obama issued an executive order authorizing CDC to “shall conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.” Baffling why 3.5 years later, research is MIA or why no one appears to have lost a job for failing to deliver a report the President authorized.”

            It’s not baffling. The CDC is funded by congress and they don’t want to lose their funding. That’s why you need a law that says the CDC must sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.

            You said, “And manufacturers have conducted their own research. Only two made it to market and both flopped. Too expensive, cumbersome, and unreliable. Buyers want bang -not beep- when the trigger is pulled.”

            There’s no incentive to produce a safe gun. Repeal that 2005 law and watch how fast things change

  22. I would say that ordinary patrolmen are opposed to stronger gun control because the people most likely to put a bullet into them are not the sort of people who will be affected by stronger gun laws. While stronger gun control laws put non-criminals at a disadvantage.
    Places where most gun ownership is illegal — e.g. Chicago and Washington D.C. — are not the safest for police. While places where gun ownership is common — e.g. Iowa, Minnesota, and Vermont — are quite safe for police.
    The number of police feloniously killed on the job across America is small and has been on the decline. The chance of being killed in a traffic collision is much higher.

  23. This April report outlines the federal government’s strategy for developing smart gun technology and deploying it, as President Obama promised when he issued a flurry of executive orders in January. As I read it, the key factors are to let law enforcement define how smart guns must perform in the hands of the user, and use law enforcement’s buying power to incentivize gun manufacturers.
    The next milestone will be six months after April, or this October.

  24. “A fundamental principal is that civilians should have no more firepower than is demonstratedly needed for lawful purposes” is the question the author asks at the close of his article.

    Body armor is cheap and readily available. This body armor resists virtually all ammunition fired from handguns and pistol caliber carbines. The utility of self loading rifles is that it negates the protection offered by standard issue body armor. Many Police Agencies have moved away from Shotguns and adopted Assault Rifles because of this reality.
    As a homeowner should it be mandated that you protect yourself with a weapon that is easily nullified by a criminal that has the foresight to obtain such armor?

  25. After reading all of Robert Miller’s comments here, I’m still waiting for him to explain why no one is willing to go the legal route, and repeal the 2nd Amendment. He’s done a great job of avoiding that question:

    Why isn’t amending the Constitution ever seriously considered? It’s been done dozens of times before. If the ‘gun problem’ is that serious, amending the operative law should be easy…

    The reason is pretty clear: Robert Miller is on the fringe of society. If he was in the majority, repealing the 2nd Amendment would be a piece of cake.

    Instead, in almost every comment he makes Miller begs for lawyers to do an end-run around the clear and simple method of amending the Constitution.

    • Smokey do you have a reading comprehension problem? The United States consists of many rural parts where firearms are essential. There is also sport shooting and hunting which through licenses is designed to control the animal population. Why would you want to outlaw firearms? What I am saying is that there is little incentive to make guns safe so repeal the 2005 law and allow gun manufacturers to be sued.

      We have a history of change based upon government mandates. The government demanded more miles per gallon from cars and the manufacturers complied. In another case the government demanded that garbage going to landfills be reduced by 50% and now we have a huge recycling industry.

      I guess you don’t believe in American ingenuity. Give the designers the incentive and they will come up with safer guns.

      • How would one make guns safer when they are designed to emit dense projectiles at high rates of speed? Right now the only danger from guns (assuming proper manufacture) comes from standing in front of one when the trigger is pulled.
        The 2005 law was passed, not to make guns less safe, but to get rid of frivolous lawsuits in which the manufacturing and distribution chain was blamed whenever somebody was shot.
        My baby brother did have a safe gun, as I recall. It was a cap gun that emitted cork balls that could be felt on impact, but were quite harmless. Perhaps that is what Mr. Miller wants the industry to switch to?

        • Open your mind and try to think like an innovator. There are many problems with guns. Children shoot their siblings or parents when they find a loaded gun under the bed. Can something be done to stop this? Criminals stealing guns from the police and using them in crimes is another problem. People using guns to commit suicide is also a problem. Aren’t we smart enough to find solutions for our problems?

          I realize that we we asked to be respectful, so all I can say is that I know your type. You sat in the back of the classroom when you were in high school.

          • > Open your mind and try to think like an innovator. There are many problems with guns. Children shoot their siblings or parents when they find a loaded gun under the bed.

            What you have identified is NOT a problem with the gun, but a problem with the parent.

            The gun did everything it was supposed to do. The parent didn’t.

            I’m sure that many people have made this point to you many, many times. The question is:
            “Why aren’t you getting it?”

          • Wrong. It is a problem with the guns and as soon as it becomes profitable these problems will be fixed. Is that concept too difficult to understand?

          • “Children shoot their siblings…” Google “instant access handgun safes,” and you will find there are dozens on the market, openable only by authorized users, and typically mounted to the bed.
            “Criminals stealing guns from the police…” Certainly law enforcement across the nation has the buying power to encourage manufacturers to come up with guns that can’t be used by criminals, if such a thing was possible. Further, the federal government could fund research to produce such guns as they fund any other sort of research. And yet these have not happened to date. Why? It’s obvious to me that the police can’t take a chance on a gun that might not go “Bang!” when they pull the trigger.
            “People using guns to commit suicide…” I never considered that science could come up with a mood-sensing gun — a gun that could refuse to be shot by the depressed or despondent. I mean, I have heard of a mood ring, but never a mood gun.
            But I wonder: Is suicide only a problem when it’s committed using a gun?

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