The real danger of guns

Dan Wos looks at the constitutional-carry debate in Alabama:

While the citizens of Alabama seek to regain their God-given right to defend themselves, anti-gun politicians use delusional arguments to thwart their efforts. Senator Vivian Davis Figures accused the Alabama citizens she represents of having mental problems for wanting Constitutional Carry in their state. After a clear understanding of the bill in question, it would seem the Senator is a bit misguided and may have some mental problems of her own.

SB4, (otherwise known as a Constitutional Carry Bill) is welcomed by gun-owners across the state of Alabama, primarily because of the way it would prevent good people from being cornered by over-zealous gun-grabbers. The handgun permit system currently in place requires a permit in vehicles but not outside vehicles often turning law-abiding citizens into law breakers for simply traveling to the grocery store.

Paul Arnold from BamaCarry (an organization defending gun rights in Alabama) said, “SB4 makes the permit process optional but does not do away with the permit system or background checks at the time of purchase.”

Arnold also said, “98% of BamaCarry members would still acquire a handgun permit for reciprocating purposes while traveling or purchasing a new firearm.”

This doesn’t stop the rhetoric from the agenda-driven Senator as she laid on a heaping helping of fearful, misleading anti-gun propaganda. Let’s look at what Senator Vivian Davis Figures said in a committee hearing on SB4.

Senator Figures said, “Why would you want to do certain things that really put people at greater risk?”

Clearly, Senator Figures doesn’t understand that SB4 does not eliminate background checks and in no way puts people at risk, but in typical anti-gun fashion, she uses the fear-campaign as a desperate attempt to get people on board to oppose the bill. Her statement also implies that anyone who votes for SB4 would be “putting people at greater risk.” A typical shaming tactic often used by the gun-grabbers. This is similar to the “blood is on your hands” accusation often thrown at gun-owners.

Senator Figures said, “You even want to repeal a part of the law that’s in place now about carrying weapons into a demonstration, where everyone knows that the emotions are high,”

This statement was particularly disturbing because it reveals very little about Alabama gun-owners and more about Senator Figures herself. This was her Freudian slip moment. The implication here is that “when emotions are high, people will shoot each other.” When Freud talked about “Projection” he explains it as a way of people placing their own innermost personal thoughts onto others. He said it was a way for people to blame others for thoughts that were occurring in their own mind. In this case it appears that Figures believes people will be unable to control themselves when emotions are high. Maybe Figures is revealing more about herself than she would like her voters to know. How would she be able to assume others would act out in an emotionally-reactive way if she wasn’t already intimate with that very problem? Maybe Senator Figures doesn’t trust others with guns because she wouldn’t trust herself with a gun.

The idea that someone would think a gun could make people do violent things is a disturbing look into their thought-process and may expose more about them than the people they are accusing.

Senator Figures said, “I’ve always gotten an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association and that’s a proud ‘F’ that I receive… I just don’t understand the mentality of what you guys or – or what you guys continue to push to do,” she said. “Particularly, with all the gun violence that is happening, to allow a person to be able to get a gun who has mental problems – to me that says the person who’s pushing that has some mental problems. They don’t understand why people with mental issues shouldn’t have a weapon.”

This statement rambled a bit but a few key points practically jump off the page. When she states she just doesn’t “understand the mentality of you guys,” she seems to be saying that she has her view and all else is irrelevant. Then she threw in the ever-popular “gun-violence” term just to remind everyone that guns are the cause of violence. This is often used to redirect anyone who might want to actually place the blame on the person pulling the trigger. Can’t have that. If people realized violence is a human thing, we might force politicians to look at some of their own failed policies.

Then Figures attacks the citizens of Alabama again by restating they have mental problems but she also implies that SB4 would allow mentally-disabled people the ability to purchase guns. The Bill, does not do that but like all true anti-gun politicians, Figures doesn’t let those pesky facts get in the way of her mission to disarm the people she works for.

16 States already have Constitutional Carry in place without incident. That’s the part the Anti-2nd Amendment Radicals hate, because it shows their argument for gun-restrictions to be irrational.

In the world of this state senator, all mass shootings would end when the shooter ran out of bullets, instead of what happened Saturday, as reported by the Daily Caller:

The man who fired a semi-automatic weapon inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego on Saturday froze, dropped his gun and sprinted to his car when he saw Oscar Stewart come barreling toward him, yelling so loud the priest at a neighboring church could hear.

“Get down!” Stewart yelled, according to his wife and others who were at the scene. “You motherfucker! I’m going to kill you!”

Others who were there later told him it sounded like four or five people were shouting. He thinks maybe an angel was standing behind him and speaking through his voice. When the shooter ran, he immediately gave chase.

Stewart, 51, told The Daily Caller on Sunday he doesn’t remember any conscious thought from the moment he heard the gun shots until it was all over — he just acted on instinct to stop the shooter and prevent him from leaving so he couldn’t hurt more people somewhere else. The Iraq combat veteran said his military training kicked in.

“I knew I had to be within five feet of this guy so his rifle couldn’t get to me,” Stewart said. “So I ran immediately toward him, and I yelled as loud as I could. And he was scared. I scared the hell out of him.”

Stewart served in the Navy in explosive ordnance disposal from 1990 to 1994, then enlisted in the Army in 2001 because of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“Looking back, it was kind of a crazy idea to do, but I did it.” He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and left the military in 2004, as a staff sergeant. He’s now in construction work.

When the gunman opened fire, he was in the back of the synagogue. By the time he got to the lobby, the shooter had killed one woman, blown the finger off of a rabbi, and injured two others.

“I heard gunshots,” Stewart said. “And everybody got up and started trying to get out the back door, so I — for whatever reason — I didn’t do that. I ran the other way. I ran towards the gun shots.”

“When I came around the corner into the lobby area, I saw the individual with a gun, and he fired two rounds. And I yelled at him and I must have yelled very loud, and he looked at me, and I must have had a really mean look on my face or something, because he immediately dropped his weapon and turned and ran. And then I gave chase.”

Stewart said he chased him all the way out to his car and began pounding on it — the shooter had managed to lock himself in. When Stewart saw him reach for a rifle, he punched the side of the car as hard as he could, intending to figure out a way to drag him out of the car. That’s when a Border Patrol agent who attends the synagogue came running out to the parking lot, yelling for Stewart to get down because he had a gun.

Stewart says this man may have saved his life and pointed to his use of a civilian’s gun as evidence that gun control isn’t the answer to these kinds of tragedies. Stewart was off-duty and was apparently handed the weapon by someone else on the scene.

“It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun,” he told the Caller.

The agent fired several rounds into the lower part of the vehicle, intending to disable it, but the shooter managed to drive away. The two of them then grabbed a phone from someone and called the police to report his license plate. The shooter later turned himself in.

After he sped off, Stewart ran back into the synagogue and found a woman he knew, 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, unresponsive on the floor in the lobby. He began CPR and continued trying to bring her back to life as a couple of doctors arrived and began to assist him. She didn’t make it. The two had talked occasionally, and he remembers her as a passionate and kind woman.

“She had different political views, so we had interesting discussions when we talked,” he said. “We didn’t just talk about the weather. It was kind of cool. She was a very loving woman.”

Stewart considers her the real hero. Eyewitnesses said she jumped in front of the rabbi to save his life.

“People in the aftermath here have been saying it’s important to be strong and defend ourselves. I also think it’s important to know that being strong and defending ourselves requires a lot of sacrifice too.”

“I don’t know if I consciously made the choice to potentially sacrifice myself,” he added. “But I did. And this lady, she stood and she jumped in front of the shooter and she saved the rabbi’s life. When somebody said I was a hero, I’m like, she was a hero. I just did it instinctively, like an animal. There was no conscious decision. I just did it.”

He may not call himself a hero, but Stewart believes his actions effectively stopped the shooter. He doesn’t think reports of the shooter’s gun jamming as the reason he fled are likely to be true, because he was using a semi-automatic rifle. “Full automatic weapons will jam,” he said. “Semi-automatic weapons do not jam.” He thinks maybe the shooter had emptied his magazine. Whatever the case, the shooter let the slung weapon drop and fled.

“He was in the act of shooting when I saw him,” Stewart said. “When I yelled at him he turned and looked at me, and he like froze. And then the look on his face was one of amazement at first, and then one of fear. He saw me coming, and I was ready to do whatever I had to do to stop him.”

For his part, Stewart doesn’t attribute the shooter’s actions to a larger agenda and was reluctant to connect him to a larger political context. He doesn’t blame President Donald Trump and expressed hope that people don’t try to blame anyone else for the man’s actions. “He was an individual acting alone,” he said.

“If you’re ignorant and you don’t know what people are like, you don’t know that I’m a person just like you. I go to work every day in a manual labor job. I’m not some, you know – supposedly he said in his manifesto that the Jews control this and that — I don’t control anything. I go to work just like you every day. He didn’t know that.”

“If he had gotten to know me, he would know that I’m a great person, that I’m a nice guy, that I’m a very caring person,” he continued. “My apprentices — they all love me. They say that I’m the best teacher in the world, you know, that I care, that I try to teach them, and if he had known any of these people, like the lady Lori who died. She would go give Easter baskets to kids and that’s not even a Jewish thing, you know. … She was just a warm person.”

If anything’s to blame, he says it’s social media and the increasingly disconnected world we find ourselves in. “The whole media thing — people don’t get to know people, and they get to sit in a cocoon, and sit and make opinions on what somebody writes. It’s not good. We need to interact more.”

“The most important thing I want to share is that we need to know each other,” he said. “If you make an opinion on anyone, you need to know what they’re about, and who they are. You can’t generalize and say every blue person is evil because they’re blue. That’s ridiculous.”

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A red-flag-law red flag

Dan O’Donnell:

There is perhaps no more significant power of government than its power to imprison individual citizens and deprive them of their personal property, and thus there should be no power more closely scrutinized.

It’s fitting, then, that a new proposal to seize property is termed a “red flag law” since it raises so many red flags.

Wisconsin’s new Attorney General Josh Kaul proposed such legislation in his inaugural address, calling for the passage of a bill “that will allow law enforcement or family members to go before a judge and ensure that someone who is a threat to themselves or others is temporarily disarmed.”

Governor Evers signaled support for this, as did Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who cautioned that while he is “open to the idea,” he is concerned about “the scope being too broad.”

That may be an understatement.

Red flag laws, which have been passed in six states—most recently in Florida last year—pose substantial risks to both Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights (to say nothing of Second Amendment rights), as they allow for the confiscation of firearms without the protection of due process as it has been traditionally understood.

The Fourth Amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

Probable cause generally exists only when “there is a reasonable basis that a crime may have been committed (for an arrest) or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched (for a search).”

Under a red flag law, however, a family member may request that a judge confiscate an individual’s firearm based on the mere suspicion that he is mentally unfit to own one. Even if there is no evidence that a crime has been committed or is even likely to be committed, the judge can order guns seized.

Even more troublingly, the subject of the seizure might not have an opportunity to defend himself or even know of the allegations against him until law enforcement officers show up at his door to confiscate his weapons.

This Kafkaesque nightmare isn’t just an overwrought hypothetical; it’s actually happening.

Just two months after Florida passed a red flag law in the wake of the Parkland shooting, Broward County Sheriff’s Department bailiff Frank Joseph Pinter was accused of making threatening remarks to a colleague that allegedly included “all you rats should be exterminated.”

Six months earlier, The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reported, Pinter was spotted leaning over a courthouse atrium and pretending to shoot at people below him. Another bailiff accused Pinter of saying to him, “I’m going to exterminate you.”

In May, the Sheriff’s Department had had enough from what it deemed to be a dangerous employee and sought what is known as a “risk protection order” under Florida’s new law. Without granting Pinter an opportunity to defend himself or explain his conduct in court, a judge determined that “there is reasonable cause to believe the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or others in the near future” and ordered his guns to be confiscated.

That afternoon, deputies took all of Pinter’s guns, ammunition, and even his concealed carry permit. He had no idea that there had been a judgement against him (or even that an action had been filed against him) until his guns were being confiscated.

Needless to say, this is antithetical to constitutional protections against what is rather obviously an unreasonable seizure. Pinter may well have been mentally disturbed, but there was no probable cause that he had committed a crime that would warrant government repossession of his personal property.

That he was not offered a chance to defend himself against the allegations against him compounds the issue by presenting a rather clear violation of Pinter’s Fifth Amendment right to protection against deprivation “of…property, without due process of law.”

When the only standard for seizure of property is a vague determination of risk to self or others based on evidence presented only by those who are seeking to seize property, what chance does the individual possibly have of keeping said property?

And what chance does he have if he doesn’t know an adjudicative proceeding against him is taking place?

Under Florida’s red flag law, Pinter was finally afforded the opportunity to challenge the seizure of his weapons several weeks after they had been seized. Only then—weeks after punitive action was taken against him—was he allowed to defend himself against the allegations that led to that punitive action.

Now Wisconsin’s Attorney General and Governor are proposing a nearly identical law, apparently unbothered by the radical infringements on individual civil liberties. The stated end—ostensibly lowering gun deaths—is a noble one, but even it cannot justify such unconstitutional means.

Quite simply, the power of government to seize property—even potentially dangerous property like firearms—is too significant to leave citizens—even potentially unstable ones—unprotected.

Internet 1, gun-grabbing judges 0

Earlier today I reported about the hysteria over the releasing of blueprints for guns that could be assembled with a 3-D printer.

A federal judge blocked the release of those blueprints. But, the Huffington Post reports via Yahoo! News:

Gun rights activist groups found a way around the temporary halting of 3D-printed gun blueprints by publishing another set of blueprints on a new website Tuesday, which they say is activity protected under the First Amendment.

“Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom,” reads a statement on the site, which was created by a variety of groups including the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation.

The site features downloadable blueprints for a variety of firearms, including the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, the AR-10 battle rifle as well as the Liberator, a single-shot handgun.

It went live the same day that U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik blocked a settlement that President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with digital firearms nonprofit Defense Distributed, which had been granted permission to relaunch its website on Wednesday with blueprints.

Attorneys general from eight states and Washington, D.C., announced Monday they were suing the federal government in an attempt to halt the settlement.

“There are 3D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm,” Lasnik said.

Defense Distributed had been hosting schematics for seven different firearms from July 27 until the site’s founder Cody Wilson announced on Twitter Tuesday that the site was “going dark.” Thousands of the blueprints had already been downloaded by Tuesday.

Three comments on this story point out the silliness of this latest anti-gun controversy:

  • MakerBot Replicator Z18 – 3D printer $6,499.00 MakerBot PLA Filament $160.00 per roll,Not cheep for a use and lose 1 timer.
  • Even though this new era of 3D printable parts to manufacture firearms is in controversy, it may come as somewhat of a surprise that it is still completely legal to make and own a homemade gun.
  • Anyone with minimal mechanical ability can build a zip gun from hardware store supplies in under 5 minutes…. Why is this such an issue?

Brandon Burdette added on Facebook:

Ghost guns only seem to terrify the political class. No average person I’ve met really gives a crap.

I wonder why that is.

Respect for all of the Bill of Rights

CBS News reports a story from my former area:

A Wisconsin high schooler is fighting to wear shirts with images of guns to school. Matthew Schoenecker says his T-shirts reflect his personal beliefs, but after the Parkland school shooting, administrators at his high school said his shirts were inappropriate and that he could no longer wear them. He is suing his principal over the ban.

Shooting is an activity the Shoeneckers enjoy as a family, but it’s one Matthew now says is being used against him.

“They just said something like, ‘You could be the next school shooter maybe,'” he told CBS News’ Nikki Battiste.

The remarks are part of the backlash the 15-year-old now faces for wearing T-shirts with images of guns and a grenade in school.

Matthew says he’s been wearing the same shirts since the fall. But his parents say it was only after the Parkland school shooting in February, that the school’s principal sent home a letter telling Matt to “change the shirt” because “it was inappropriate.” When Matt refused, he was moved to a cubicle for two days.

“He says, ‘Well, your son’s T-shirt’s promoting violence,'” Matt’s mother, Pam Schoenecker said. “I said, ‘His T-shirts celebrate diversity. And then his other T-shirt says, ‘love.’ How is that promoting violence? None of the times was he able to answer that question.”

In April, Matthew filed a lawsuit alleging that “there are no school rules explicitly banning wearing clothing that depicts firearms” and that doing so “violated his freedom of expression.”

“He is perfectly within his First Amendment rights to wear those shirts,” John Monroe, Matthew’s lawyer, said.

Monroe is being paid by Wisconsin Carry, a pro-gun group.

“The issue here isn’t really a gun issue, it’s a speech issue. And, you know, if Parkland had never happened,” Monroe said.

Cases like Matthew’s are popping up across the country. In Nevada, a middle school student is suing his school district after it also barred him from wearing T-shirts containing images of guns. In a statement to “CBS This Morning,” a school spokesperson said, “the child was not harmed in anyway except for being asked to wear a sweatshirt over his shirt.” Lawyers in both the Wisconsin and Nevada case say the schools allowed students to participate in school walkout activities supporting gun control.

“I just, I just think they’re hypocrites….You can promote an anti-gun agenda but then you have a student that comes in there, knows history, knows the Constitution and you’re going to tell him he can’t,” Pam said.

“This is a complex issue. I think that schools should have the ability to regulate a student’s clothing for a whole host of reasons,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said. “We don’t want violence in schools. We don’t want gang signs, we don’t want people with Nazi swastikas….These things are all obvious that we would not condone. But the mere picture of a gun? Is that sufficient?”

While the lawsuit is pending, Matthew can still wear his favorite shirt to school, expressing a belief the Schoeneckers say is a just a normal part of their lives. But why not just stop wearing the shirts for a while?

“Because that’s just who Matthew is….He’s always gone hunting, he’s gone target shooting,” Pam said. “The Second Amendment thing, the Constitution, all of that is part of our family.”

“I get where they’re coming from. But at the same time, they’re expecting my son to change who he is because of what is going on in another part of the country,” she said.

The Schoeneckers said they are not asking for financial damages in their lawsuit. They just want Matthew to be allowed to wear his shirts in school. CBS News reached out to Markesan High School and its attorneys, but they declined to comment.

WISN-TV in Milwaukee also reports:

Nine Marquette University High School students on Wednesday morning walked out of class to show support for the Second Amendment.

“We’re here for the Second Amendment,” said junior Jack Dubois, who was wearing an NRA sweatshirt to make his point. “There’s not many of us because our school doesn’t support it. They said, basically, ‘You’re going to get [detention] if you walk out.'”

The students were taking part in walkouts happening nationwide called Stand for the Second. They are protesting to guarantee their constitutional rights to bear arms.

WISN 12 News spotted school officials scattered around the building, even hearing one worker yelling at the students to come back in.

“It’s not just about the Second Amendment. It’s about the First Amendment,” said junior Jack Kujawa.

Shortly after making this statement, Kujawa was interrupted by a school official, who said, “I warned you. Don’t be late.”

A Marquette University High School spokesman told WISN 12 News that “no student was told they would face detention for walking out. Students were allowed to leave the building to express themselves via the walkout, and it was the position of the school that they would be allowed to express their First Amendment rights.”

The students’ version of what Marquette administration told them, if correct, is ironic since Marquette and all other parochial schools are able to exist because of the First Amendment. The cynic might believe Marquette administration changed its mind on detention after seeing the cameras, whose existence is also protected by the First Amendment.

The Second Amendment in Madison

WMTV in Madison reports:

Organizers of a pro-gun rights rally scheduled for Saturday say many supporters plan on legally and openly carrying guns. The rally is happening on the same day as the first Dane County Farmers’ market of the season.

The rally is being organized by the local chapter of The National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans.

“We want to celebrate our right to bear arms and we kind of like want to be an outreached hand to the community. We don’t want to be intimidating in any way,” said Thomas Leager, National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans Wisconsin organizer.

Leager said a few hundred people are expected to attend, many of them openly carrying a gun. It is legal to openly carry a gun on the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds.

“It’s just one of the things that we want to celebrate our rights and kind of help inform the public,” Leager said.

Some farmers’ market vendors are concerned about how the rally could impact safety and business.

Jennifer Patrello, a manager at Stella’s Bakery said they will not be at the market this weekend because of the weather, but she said she is worried the guns could turn shoppers away and negativity impact business for vendors.

“We believe that everyone in our group is intelligent and knows how to carry a gun responsibly,” Leager said.

Organizers of the event say they’re working with Capitol Police. The rally is set to start at 1 p.m. Capitol Police and the Madison Police will be monitoring the event.

The organizer of the farmers’ market said they do not have an opinion on the rally. She said shoppers who don’t want to be around the protest are encouraged to get to the market early. It opens at 6:15 a.m.

Those last two sentences prompted James Wigderson to comment:

There is a gun rights rally scheduled for Madison [today] for 1:00 PM. WMTV says families who want to attend the farmer’s market without being around people lawfully carrying guns should get there early. We’re looking forward to WMTV’s future warnings to families who want to avoid obscene signs at leftwing rallies at our state capitol.

Guns and irrationality

Jacob Sullum:

“Americans are now more likely to be shot to death than to die in a car accident,” Margaret Renkl declares in a New York Times op-ed piece calling for more gun control. Since Renkl is talking about mass shootings, which she says “are no longer so unthinkable,” the implication is that the risk of being murdered with a gun is on the rise. But that risk is in fact much lower than it was in the 1970s, ’80s, or ’90s.

To back up her claim, Renkl links to a CDC fact sheet that shows guns killed slightly more Americans in 2015 than car crashes did. Yet 61 percent of those gun deaths were suicides, while 36 percent were homicides. Contrary to Renkl’s implication, Americans are nearly three times as likely to die in a car accident as they are to be murdered with a gun.

Renkl deploys this misleading comparison of gun deaths and traffic fatalities to justify her own disproportionate fear of mass shootings, which account for a tiny share of firearm homicides, and of school shootings in particular, which are even rarer and have not become any more common in recent years. That is not the impression left by the recent March for Our Lives rallies, which showed that many teenagers have a grossly exaggerated sense of the dangers they face when they go to school.

Renkl says her husband, a high school English teacher, attended one of those rallies and afterward “texted me a photo he’d taken of himself standing in front of another marcher’s sign. It read, ‘Am I next?’ For just a second, I couldn’t breathe.” Renkl had a similar reaction “when our oldest son, a new middle school math teacher, took me to see his first classroom. ‘Just look at all these beautiful windows!’ I said. ‘Not exactly great for an active-shooter situation,’ he pointed out. His words turned my heart to ice.”

Renkl is afraid because other people are afraid, and she is not interested in considering whether those fears are reasonable. “Not only am I married to a schoolteacher, and the mother of one, I also have two younger sons in college,” she writes. “Not a single day goes by when I don’t worry about whether they will all be safe in their classrooms.”

In reality, Renkl’s sons are nearly 1,000 times as likely to die in a traffic accident as they are to die in a mass shooting, which is roughly as likely as being killed by a dog and only slightly more likely than dying from a lightning strike. Stinging insects kill more Americans each year than mass shooters do. Yet Renkl thinks the government should make policy decisions based on the shortness of her breath and the coldness of her heart.

“Everyone is worried about the threat of gun violence,” Renkl says, “and almost everyone has a clear idea of what to do about it.” Among other solutions, she mentions an “outright ban” on “semiautomatic weapons,” a very broad category that includes the most popular guns for self-defense. Renkl seems unaware that the Supreme Court has already said such a ban would be unconstitutional.

“We don’t need to repeal the Second Amendment,” Renkl insists. According to the headline over her essay, criminalizing possession of all firearms except single-shot weapons and revolvers represents “a middle ground on guns.” While that may be true at a March for Our Lives rally, the world outside looks different. It is more complicated but also less scary.

If there are children who are afraid of school, that is the fault of their parents for not teaching them how to deal with anxiety and fear, and/or the schools for failing to keep bullies from victimizing students.

The non-student leaders of the student anti-gun movement

Jacob Sullum:

David Hogg began his speech at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday by accusing Marco Rubio, Florida’s Republican senator, of exchanging students’ lives for donations from the National Rifle Association. Dividing the $3 million or so that Rubio has received from the NRA over the years by the number of primary and secondary students in Florida, Hogg figured that the senator had charged $1.05 for each of the 14 teenagers killed in the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where Hogg is a senior.

Hogg and the other young activists who attended demonstrations across the country on Saturday to demand legislation aimed at preventing school shootings may have energized the debate about gun control, but they certainly have not elevated it. Taking their cues from the grownups they say have failed them, Hogg and his compatriots assume their opponents are motivated by greed, cowardice, and crass political considerations—anything but honest disagreement.

“School safety is not a political issue,” the March for Our Lives website insists. “There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing.”

There cannot be two sides. That sort of logic practically demands contempt for anyone who does not share your policy preferences, as illustrated by Hogg’s comments about legislators who do not vote the way he thinks they should.

“They’re pathetic fuckers that want to keep killing our children,” Hogg said in an interview with The Outline. “They could have blood from children spattered all over their faces, and they wouldn’t take action, because they all still see those dollar signs.”

Hogg is only 17, but comments from older, supposedly wiser advocates of gun control reflect a similar attitude. “If you’re a political leader doing nothing about this slaughter,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted after the Parkland attack, “you’re an accomplice.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is five times as old as David Hogg, shares his assumptions about people who disagree with her, although she expresses them in more temperate terms. “The students protesting inaction on gun safety,” she tweeted on March 14, “have the courage to stand up to the NRA and lawmakers would do well to follow their example.”

If fear of the NRA is the only conceivable reason why people would fail to support the legislation favored by Hogg, Murphy, and Feinstein, there is no point in debating whether, say, an “assault weapon” ban, a limit on the capacity of magazines, or background checks for every gun transfer can reasonably be expected to have a meaningful impact on the frequency or lethality of mass shootings. The only sensible course is to shame or scare people into doing what everyone knows is the right thing—whatever that happens to be at any given moment.

“Our lives are more important than your guns,” said a sign held by a teenager at the D.C. rally. Similar slogans, presumably written by adults, could be seen on signs held by preschoolers. The implicit message—that Americans must surrender their firearms and their Second Amendment rights in the name of protecting children—was not exactly designed to provoke a fruitful dialogue. But that approach makes sense if you think all the relevant issues have already been settled.

Lara Vance, a middle-aged Kentucky woman who was interviewed at the D.C. rally, said she was “rather shocked that this is even an issue.” After all, “This is something that can be solved. It doesn’t take a lot of thought. We know what the problems are, and we need Congress to get their act together and get this problem solved.”

I disagree with pretty much every part of that, but I have no doubt that Vance sincerely believes it. I wish she would extend me the same courtesy.

University of Maryland Prof. Dana Fisher adds:

In the days before and after more than two million Americans participated in the March for Our Lives, the gun-violence conversation has focused on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors and their “student movement.”

The school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and the passion of the teenage survivors have become a catalyst for the current movement. With the help of some well-resourced benefactors, including Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney, the survivors organized an extraordinary rally in D.C. and sister marches around the country in a mere six weeks.

However, the young faces of the advocates have created an assumption that “youth” and “students” are the core of the movement. My research tells a different story about who participated in the March for Our Lives — and it is more complicated and less well-packaged for prime time.

As part of my research on the American Resistance, I have been working with a research team to survey protesters at all the large-scale protest events in Washington since President Trump’s inauguration. By snaking through the crowd and sampling every fifth person at designated increments within the staging area, we are able to gather a field approximation of a random sample. So far, the data set includes surveys collected from 1,745 protest participants.

During the March for Our Lives, my team sampled 256 people who were randomly selected. This gives us the chance to provide evidence about who attended the March for Our Lives and why.

Like other resistance protests, and like previous gun-control marches, the March for Our Lives was mostly women. Whereas the 2017 Women’s March was 85 percent women, the March for Our Lives was 70 percent women. Further, participants were highly educated; 72 percent had a BA or higher.

Contrary to what’s been reported in many media accounts, the D.C. March for Our Lives crowd was not primarily made up of teenagers. Only about 10 percent of the participants were under 18. The average age of the adults in the crowd was just under 49 years old, which is older than participants at the other marches I’ve surveyed but similar to the age of the average participant at the Million Moms March in 2000, which was also about gun control.

Participants were also more likely than those at recent marches to be first-time protesters. About 27 percent of participants at the March for Our Lives had never protested before. This group was less politically engaged in general: Only about a third of them had contacted an elected official in the past year, while about three-quarters of the more seasoned protesters had.

Even more interesting, the new protesters were less motivated by the issue of gun control. In fact, only 12 percent of the people who were new to protesting reported that they were motivated to join the march because of the gun-control issue, compared with 60 percent of the participants with experience protesting. …

The March for Our Lives had the allure of a free concert — in fact, the event’s website maintained a list of performers but never listed the speakers. But it is one thing to turn out to watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ariana Grande perform, and quite another to vote in the midterm election in November.

Questions to ask your gun-banning friends

This was posted on the Facebook Not the Best of the Web Today page:

The following line of reasoning applies to any enumerated right in the Bill of Rights – just substitute them for “firearms”.

Any person who says they don’t want to “take your guns away”, they simply want to ban this “military style assault weapon” or that “military style assault weapon” is a liar.

I’ve had this discussion with anti-gun people for decades.
I usually ask one or more of these questions:

– Have you ever fired a pistol, shotgun, or rifle?

Most haven’t.

– Can you describe for me the difference between a fully automatic weapon and a semi-automatic weapon?

About a quarter can, half get close, but the other half have no idea of the difference.

– Does a sound suppressor make a firearm deadlier?
Most think it does and like in the movies, renders a shot totally silent (like in the movies) – it doesn’t.

– Can you define for me what makes something military “style” and why the style makes it more evil and deadly than a non-military “style” weapon?

Most can’t. They usually describe features that have nothing to do with the operation of the weapon.

– Can you define for me what makes a firearm an “assault weapon”?

Other than how it looks and how many rounds are in the magazine, they generally can’t – other than to incorrectly state that the AR-15 is “exactly like” what is issued to the military. It isn’t.

– Is there special training needed to use what you call a “military style assault weapon”?

Generally, they think there is, that there is something different in the operation of an AR-15 type that the general gun owner just can’t do without special training.

– The military issues semi-automatic pistols and shotguns in designs readily available to the public, should those “military grade” weapons be banned as well?

– Does banning a single type of firearm used in a small percentage of homicides (less than 1%) mean you are OK with murder, you just want to reduce it by 1 percent?

Nobody has said no to the first and then yes to the second one.

– How does preventing any responsible, legal firearms owner from possessing any type of firearm stop an irresponsible, criminal possessor from committing a crime with any firearm?

This last one is the kicker – because they can’t answer this one without admitting that their real agenda is to ban all guns.

When they realize that I have worked them into a position of realization that they don’t really know what they want to ban, that the words they are using have so little meaning to mean anything, and I’ve induced them state their true desire – that they do want to ban all guns – they will either say that is correct or not say anything at all.

I have another question you can ask your acquaintance who actually wants to ban all guns: Why are you afraid of guns?

When the majority is wrong

This Fox News graphic …

… dovetails with what Robby Soave reports:

“Guns are for the police and the government,” a 13-year-old girl confidently assured me.

She was one of the hundreds of thousands of people taking part in the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. She was flanked by two friends—another 13-year-old, and an 11-year-old—who were equally confident that violence in schools was the problem, and banning guns was the answer.

“Our school could be next,” said the other 13-year-old. “What if it is?”

It wasn’t just these three—from what I saw and heard at the rally, dying in school was a remarkably ubiquitous fear among young people. I spotted a little girl, perched on her father’s shoulders, waving a sign bearing the text “Am I Next?”

Marissa, a teenage girl from Michigan, told me she felt unsafe in school, and thought more security would help. Teenager after teenager testified that their fears of death were all-consuming, ever-present, and more justified than ever before.

Missing from these conversations was any awareness of a very basic, indisputable fact: Gun violence has declined precipitously over the past 25 years, and most Americans are much safer today than they were a generation ago.

Schools are no exception. They are “increasingly free of mass shootings,” according to researchers James Alan Fox and Emma Fridel. As New York Magazine‘s Eric Levitz put it:

American children do not “risk their lives” when they show up to school each morning — or at least, not nearly as much as they do whenever they ride in a car, swim in a pool, or put food in their mouths (an American’s lifetime odds of dying in a mass shooting committed in any location is 1 in 11,125; of dying in a car accident is 1 and 491; of drowning is 1 in 1,133; and of choking on food is 1 in 3,461). Criminal victimization in American schools has collapsed in tandem with the overall crime rate, leaving U.S. classrooms safer today than at any time in recent memory.

Obviously, it’s understandable for the survivors of the horrific events in Parkland to be feeling unsafe, given what happened to them. But mass shootings are not the norm, and kids don’t need to be terrified of going to school.

In any case, most young people I talked to on Saturday possessed both an overriding fear of being in school and a willingness to experiment with enhanced security.

“I don’t feel safe in school,” a teenager from a high school in Maryland told me. “I think there should be more security measures put in place, and the ones that are being put in place are ineffective.”

The least popular solution was arming teachers. That was something virtually everybody at the rally seemed to oppose, kids and adults.

When I asked people whether they wanted more school resource officers—a security measure that utterly failed to stop the Parkland shooting, and creates plenty of negative externalities relating to school discipline and zero tolerance—opinions were mixed, though some reluctantly supported it.

“I think there should [be more cops in schools] but I don’t think that would be as helpful as just taking guns from those who shouldn’t have them,” said the Maryland teen. “Certain guns, like AR-15s, shouldn’t even be accessible to the public.”

Well, a majority of Americans once favored slavery and opposed voting rights for women and non-whites. The 18th Amendment creating Prohibition was approved through the constitutional process, as was the 21st Amendment nullifying the 18th Amendment.

Decades ago opponents of U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy circulated a copy of the Bill of Rights and asked people whether they favored or opposed specific provisions. The results were disappointing. You might get similarly disappointing results today.

 

Early versions of gun control

Stephen Halbrook:

The perennial gun-control debate in America did not begin here. The same arguments for and against were made in the 1920s in the chaos of Germany’s Weimar Republic, which opted for gun registration. Law-abiding persons complied with the law, but the Communists and Nazis committing acts of political violence did not.

In 1931, Weimar authorities discovered plans for a Nazi takeover in which Jews would be denied food and persons refusing to surrender their guns within 24 hours would be executed. They were written by Werner Best, a future Gestapo official. In reaction to such threats, the government authorized the registration of all firearms and the confiscation thereof, if required for “public safety.” The interior minister warned that the records must not fall into the hands of any extremist group.#ad#

In 1933, the ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power and used the records to identify, disarm, and attack political opponents and Jews. Constitutional rights were suspended, and mass searches for and seizures of guns and dissident publications ensued. Police revoked gun licenses of Social Democrats and others who were not “politically reliable.”

During the five years of repression that followed, society was “cleansed” by the National Socialist regime. Undesirables were placed in camps where labor made them “free,” and normal rights of citizenship were taken from Jews. The Gestapo banned independent gun clubs and arrested their leaders. Gestapo counsel Werner Best issued a directive to the police forbidding issuance of firearm permits to Jews.

In 1938, Hitler signed a new Gun Control Act. Now that many “enemies of the state” had been removed from society, some restrictions could be slightly liberalized, especially for Nazi Party members. But Jews were prohibited from working in the firearms industry, and .22 caliber hollow-point ammunition was banned.

The time had come to launch a decisive blow to the Jewish community, to render it defenseless so that its “ill-gotten” property could be redistributed as an entitlement to the German “Volk.” The German Jews were ordered to surrender all their weapons, and the police had the records on all who had registered them. Even those who gave up their weapons voluntarily were turned over to the Gestapo.

This took place in the weeks before what became known as the Night of the Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht, occurred in November 1938. That the Jews were disarmed before it, minimizing any risk of resistance, is the strongest evidence that the pogrom was planned in advance. An incident was needed to justify unleashing the attack.

That incident would be the shooting of a German diplomat in Paris by a teenage Polish Jew. Hitler directed propaganda minister Josef Goebbels to orchestrate the Night of the Broken Glass. This massive operation, allegedly conducted as a search for weapons, entailed the ransacking of homes and businesses, and the arson of synagogues.

SS chief Heinrich Himmler decreed that 20 years be served in a concentration camp by any Jew possessing a firearm. Rusty revolvers and bayonets from the Great War were confiscated from Jewish veterans who had served with distinction. Twenty thousand Jewish men were thrown into concentration camps, and had to pay ransoms to get released.

The U.S. media covered the above events. And when France fell to Nazi invasion in 1940, the New York Times reported that the French were deprived of rights such as free speech and firearm possession just as the Germans had been. Frenchmen who failed to surrender their firearms within 24 hours were subject to the death penalty.

No wonder that in 1941, just days before the Pearl Harbor attack, Congress reaffirmed Second Amendment rights and prohibited gun registration. In 1968, bills to register guns were debated, with opponents recalling the Nazi experience and supporters denying that the Nazis ever used registration records to confiscate guns. The bills were defeated, as every such proposal has been ever since, including recent “universal background check” bills.

As in Weimar Germany, some well-meaning people today advocate severe restrictions, including bans and registration, on gun ownership by law-abiding persons. Such proponents are in no sense “Nazis,” any more than were the Weimar officials who promoted similar restrictions. And it would be a travesty to compare today’s situation to the horrors of Nazi Germany.

Still, as history teaches, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In this country gun control was used against Southern blacks.