Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them

from the no-laugh-in-matter dept

Lately I’ve been enjoying watching re-runs of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. It’s somewhat reassuring to watch a previous generation get through a period of political angst as we go through this current one, especially as there are quite a few parallels that can be drawn.

I mention this because as people call for Amazon, Apple, Roku, and YouTube to drop NRA-TV, I realize that we’ve seen calls for censorship like this before. What’s happening today:

Amazon, Apple, Roku and YouTube are facing increased calls to drop the National Rifle Association’s TV channel from their streaming services, as backlash against the organization grows following a Florida school shooting last week that killed 17 people.

On Thursday, Brad Chase ? a friend of Daniel Reed, the father of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who survived the shooting ? started a petition urging Amazon to drop the channel.

“The NRA has long ignored its role in promoting gun violence and betrayed the names of good and responsible gun owners,” Chase wrote on the petition’s page. “It’s time to hold them, and their partners, accountable … a company like Amazon should not be spreading their message.”

But compare these calls for television networks to drop pro-NRA views with the calls NRA supporters used to make to television networks to pressure them to drop anti-NRA views instead.

In the case of Laugh-In, a precursor to shows like Saturday Night Live and often lauded for its humorous handling of topics of public interest, it appears that gun control was one topic that was off-limits to it. From a letter Dan Rowan wrote in October 1973, lamenting his show’s inability to do a send-up of America’s gun control laws because the TV network was too afraid of the NRA to allow Laugh-in take it on:

…[T]here are so many things we can’t talk about because [the network is] running so damn scared. We have been trying to get a gun control piece on since the beginning of the season, and they are so afraid of the NRA lobby we haven’t been able to. Now I don’t know one solid argument against the control of hand guns and we will keep trying but that’s just one example of the problem.

(From the book, “A Friendship: The Letters of Dan Rowan and John D. McDonald, 1967-1974.“)

Granted, this comment came up in the context of Rowan’s broader frustration with a much more general culture of fear at the network, which appears to have been predicated on licensing concerns due to the saber-rattling of eventually-deposed Vice President Spiro Agnew. But the essential point remains that pressure by people with one set of views was preventing the airing of any contrary views. And so the future inherited ignorance on the subject, because that’s what censorship gives it.

Television is not what it was in the 1970s, when the major networks served as gatekeepers. Now Amazon, Apple, and Roku et al play the role of the gatekeepers. And the consequences of asking them to close their gates to certain ideas will be the same now as they were then: the loss of important discourse, discourse we need in order to achieve meaningful and lasting change.

There are of course a few points to note here. One is that asking television networks to censor is different than asking other businesses to cut ties to organizations whose views may be odious. Withdrawing sponsorships, for instance, takes away the oxygen an entity needs to survive as a viable enterprise. True, cutting off an avenue for expression may certainly make spreading its ideas more difficult, and perhaps cut down on its income, but it can at most damage the organization. It doesn’t get rid of its ideas. Its ideas will persist.

Furthermore these are calls for private censorship, not public censorship, the latter of which the First Amendment applies to. The First Amendment also protects calls for private censorship, but it doesn’t make them a good idea. And calls for private censorship have a habit of leaking into public policy. Laugh-In was produced in an age where its network’s FCC license was threatened. Apple, YouTube, Roku et al exist in an age where reactive legislatures keep finding themselves tempted to slap the hands of technology companies, whether it’s a good idea to or not. It’s not a healthy reflex to look to banning an idea as a way to deal with an undesirable one, and it would not be good to become so inured to responding this way in a private context that we tempt in in the public one. The First Amendment doesn’t automatically stop every censoring policy, and a lot of damage to discourse can occur before the First Amendment can put an end to an unconstitutional regulatory response.

But the reason it’s not a healthy response is because banning ideas is not an effective way to deal with them. The only way to defeat bad ideas is in the marketplace of ideas, where through open conversation a better consensus can evolve. There are no shortcuts; better ideas can’t win the day by trying to suppress contrary ones. Pushing for censorship that favors certain ideas only creates a vacuum where those ideas can become artificially distorted and more extreme, with no countervailing views available to temper them. And it risks having those very same preferred ideas later shut out, because restricting public discourse to only some ideas is not the same thing as convincing anyone of their merit.

What is happening to the NRA now is testament to this reality: suppressing gun control discussion didn’t give the NRA a world where those contrary ideas no longer existed. Instead it gave itself a world where its own views arguably became more extreme and now stand to be repudiated – or even themselves potentially suppressed.

But such anti-NRA suppression would be unfortunate, for the exact same reason that it was wrong, and ultimately ineffective, when the NRA did it. Censorship only inhibits progress. Meaningful and lasting change only happens when minds are changed, and that can only happen when people can talk freely about the issues affecting them. Perhaps the NRA thought its views had prevailed when it was able to control the public discussion about guns, but the backlash today shows that it was a fleeting and feeble victory. Those who wish to push an alternative policy agenda now should heed that lesson, to make sure that any gains they hope to make are not equally feeble and fleeting.

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Comments on “Anti-NRA Censorship Efforts Echo Earlier Pro-NRA Censorship Efforts, And Learn No Lessons From Them”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Classifying political speech as terrorism is bad for democracy no matter which side does it. Blaming the NRA for gun violence makes as much sense as blaming CAIR for radical terrorism.

Next time there’s a debate notice who is on the side of restricting the liberties of others, that’s the real divide in the USA.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I don’t think they are actually for democracy no matter how much they claim to be. Their entire drive is to cut everyone up into a caste system where only certain groups are allowed to discuss certain problem from only one side.

Individual Liberty is sacrificed for political expedience which is a root cause of the original problem to begin with.

Only maximizing individual liberty can best resist the offenses of inequality.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yet we are not limited to the three iterated in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

And still yet, it appears that the Declaration of Independence, no matter how significant it was/is in our democratic republic, has no force of law.

Hmm, maybe that should be a push for a Constitutional Amendment?

cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I agree with your points about liberty 200%- I’m guessing you might be a fellow libertarian?
But, I don’t believe that the left is any more or less in favor democracy and liberty than the right. They both are statist. They simply have different favored groups and policies, and little to no interest in listening to and considering the merits of the opposing side’s arguments.
What really bothers me is that attempts to shut down opposing viewpoints, is not just insecurity in the merits of favored ideas, but that there is something to fear. Fear drives radical and irrational behavior and is always used to justify incursions on liberty. This is thought police in the making.

Finnegan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Classifying political speech as terrorism is bad for democracy no matter which side does it.

The communist party is a legitimate threat to the oligarch overclass, whereas the KKK are a bunch of ignorant hick racists who will support whatever the current conservative-ish authoritarians tell them to, because they are, by affiliation, not the sharpest knives in the drawer, and therefore will fall in line and not be a threat to the powers-that-be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I know terrorism is the favorite wolf to cry about for nearly two decades to cover things that don’t even qualify as organized crime intimidation like protesting disrupting businesses or documenting animal abuse in slaughterhouses at this point but the NRA’s videos actually approach it.

Not so different from demanding death to heretical branches of religion. Hell it is the kind of thing that legitimately should get the makers put on a watchlist.

The same way the Secret Service would watch someone who is showing off that they can print phoney money that looks authentic in every respect except for wacky bill faces like putting Groucho Marx on the bill and using improper fractions for denominations. Nothing technically illegal yet but clearly worth looking into be sure they are just a prankster artist with too much time on their hands and not someone selling support services to counterfitters using the ‘prank’ as a front.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re:

NBC being afraid of the NRA in ’73 seems … unlikely. I’m wondering if there was something else going on inside NBC that Rowan either didn’t know or didn’t understand.

The NRA has a long and varied history. In the early 70s it was a much more apolitical organization run by genteel folks who even endorsed the GCA of ’68, and really didn’t participate much in politics. In those days the NRA focused more on marksmanship programs and the Boy Scouts. It wasn’t until the Cincinnati Revolt of ’77 that folks turned the NRA into a more politically active organization.

And I might point out that the NRA isn’t really a Republican organization. It’s a gun rights organization, and even a decade ago it endorsed about 25% of Democrats in various races (including my "Blue Dog" Representative). The parties have been sorting out much more strongly on some pretty basic issues in the last 20 years, and the the shift in the Democratic Party to more urban viewpoints has reduced the number of Democrats who meet the NRA’s loose standard for endorsement (more supportive of gun rights than your opponent).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or “inconvenient” as determined by government authorities or by community consensus.[1]”

Asking party A to remove party B from what is otherwise an open and public transmission marketplace seems to fit the above.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Call it whatever you want, if the marketplace contains offensive content, people who disagree with that content are free to shop elsewhere. People are free to express their disgust at the said marketplace in a public forum like Twitter or in private communications (customer support) with those businesses. Those private businesses have every right to ignore the people and continue hosting the offensive content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The first word of your second statement is what makes it fail to fit the definition.


The public is not suppressing any speech, communication, or information by promoting a boycott. They are not forbidding FedEx or Enterprise from partnering with the NRA by making it illegal to do so, nor are they forbidding FedEx or Enterprise any rights that their competitors keep.

This is not suppression like the city telling a magazine “you can’t publish this article because it supports the NRA”, this is merely choosing not to listen, like the inhabitants of the city choosing not to buy said magazine because they disagree with its viewpoint.

It’s no more censorship than me not buying Apple products because they are made with child labor, or me buying fruit from the grocery store instead of my annoying neighbor, or me buying fruit from my friendly neighbor instead of the grocery store.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

How is it not at all the same as this?

The people are not censoring Enterprise for having a partnership with the NRA. Enterprise is not censoring the NRA for terminating their partnership. The NRA is free to make a deal with anyone who wants to make a deal with them. They’re also free to start up their own business to sell their own products if they would like.

Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything except economic decisions. It’s not any different than if I design a pair of underwear that says “I don’t like cheese” and make a deal with Banana Republic to sell it, and then cheese-lovers boycott Banana Republic in protest of their apparent cheese-denigrating image by associating with me and my anti-cheese apparel. If Banana Republic wants to maintain a pro-cheese image and win back the money of the cheese connoisseurs, they have every right to stop carrying my cheesy undergarments.

Likewise, if Banana Republic decides that they either also don’t like cheese or they don’t really care about cheese one way or the other, they have every right to continue sales of the offending cheese-related clothing and let the staunch cheese rights activists go shop at JC Penny instead.

It also applies to political ties. Say it’s not the fact that my undergarments show an unenthusiastic opinion towards cheese that gets people riled up, it’s the fact that I used the sales of my cheese-bashing brand to support a politician who supports a higher tax on cheese and wants all foreign-made cheese off the market. In this case, the cheeseheads’ boycott is because Banana Republic is giving money to someone who gladly turns around and gives that money to a corrupt cheese-creation-and-consumption-canceler!

And as before, Banana Republic is fully welcome to drop my underpants and end my brief success, just as the boycotting cheese consumers are fully welcome to go anywhere they believe to be a good, honest, cheese-respecting establishment.

If I can’t find any shop that will take my cheese-blasting garments, or if the cheese brigade is unable to find any shop that doesn’t support my unthinkably-cheesist product, we’re both welcome to start our own shops to rectify our cheese conundrum.

Okay. That’s enough. I’m done cheesing you now.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s a decent definition, but I think it’s still overly-narrow, except insofar as “objectionable” covers a lot of bases.

My preferred definition is somewhat broader than that: “an attempt to prevent some particular audience from being exposed to some particular information”.

That covers everything from parental censorship of what books their children are allowed to read and what movies their children are allowed to watch, through people working for e.g. the military with the actual job title of “censor” blacking out parts of soldiers’ letters home in order to avoid compromising ongoing operations, all the way to V-for-Vendetta-style “add it to the blacklist” banning of books and music and so forth, and a multitude of other things along the way.

It’s the only definition I’ve ever found which seems neither too narrow (skipping things which seem like they should be included) nor too broad (including things which seem like they should be left out) to my sensibilities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If only it was always that simple. You may find a candidate who has never taken NRA money but might have taken money from another source you also greatly disagree with.

I don’t know of any politician past or present that was 100% aligned with my personal views. Some might come close or even be over 50% but you should not vote for someone just based on one or even a handful of issues.

Sharur (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I must disagree. It is simple. Not EASY, but SIMPLE.

Some might say that this is the benefit of a Westminster-style parliament, with multiple parties, that one can vote .

I disagree. I think it should up to the voters, to weigh issues and determine the greatest good and the least evil.

There are, then, two issues:
1) People are not willing to put in the effort, and resort to the status quo (or delegate their power and responsibility to a third party, such as a political party)
2) People are willing, and have weighed issues differently than one would like.

While the voting turn out numbers suggest #1, #2 is a certainly possible. In either case, the solution is the same, and in my view universal:

It is not enough to know something is wrong, or to declare that something is wrong. One must convince others that it is wrong, and what to do about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If no candidate represents your views sufficiently, then you run for office yourself.

The solution is simple. It’s just not easy, and most people aren’t willing to actually follow through.

But yes, you won’t get 100% of your views in any democracy with more than a few dozen people in it. That’s also taught in civics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Biggest lobbyist in Washington DC is GOOGLE.

The “marketplace of ideas” is a nice ideal scenario which doesn’t exist when lobbying groups like the NRA (and others) funnel millions of dollars from corporate interests into politicians’ pockets.

Now you’re informed with a fact.

Here’s another: Google supports the EFF, and apparently this person, perhaps indirectly. This is certainly a biased view, presenting only the fascist elite side.

Sharur (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Is this only at the national level, or does that include state and (possibly) local as well? Because that number seems really small.

Lets say that number is only to the US Congress, and they only contribute to half the congresspeople. That number works out to less than $4,000 a candidate, which to my knowledge is tiny (for political campaigns).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It does include the state level, and it is very small.

The NRA didn’t make the top 10 of political donors in 2016, unlike Las Vegas Sands Luxury Casinos ($44 million), owned by Sheldon Adelson; Adelson Drug Clinic ($38 million), owned by the same man; Fahr LLC ($90 million), a corporation that helps other businesses become more environmentally friendly; and NextGen Climate Action ($35 million), started by Fahr.

The NRA didn’t make the top 50 of political donors in 2016, either, unlike Soros Fund Management (#13, $28 million), the Chicago Cubs (#33, 13 million), Comcast (#34, 13 million), AT&T (#37, 12 million), or McMahon Ventures (#42, 11 million).

It didn’t even make the top 100, or top 250. Where did it place? #439.

But, of course, that is not the whole story.

It spent 9th most of any group in external campaigning that was not specifically directed at or naming any candidate. Buying pro-gun-rights TV ads, for example. That is where the real money went, not into politicians’ pockets.

Will B. says:

Re: Re:

The issue is even more fundamental than that; even if we had the pure marketplace of ideas they talk about here, it STILL wouldn’t work. There is one major unsupported assertion in this post: the idea that the free marketplace of ideas maximizes for merit.

It doesn’t. Marketplaces maximize for what the participants focus on, not for what is best. This is why capitalism has so many issues in general; it maximizes for profit, not for societal good, and that leads to things like human rights violations, anti-environmentalism, et cetera.

IF the free marketplace of ideas was attended by people interested in the best ideas, the most truth,it would maximize for those things. That is not America, though; that may not have been any human civilization throughout history. We don’t want to learn what is right; we want to BE right.

The free marketplace of ideas maximizes for CONFIRMATION BIAS. That is why things are becoming ever more splintered, ever more partisan ;it’s why we have pendulum politics and intense party tribalism. People want to hear that they are right, and have been right all along, and they dismiss or attack anything that suggests they MIGHT be wrong.

This is actually why we are a representative democracy; the idea was for career politicians to be intelligent, intellectually honest philosophers who would be able to debate among themselves WITH THE INTENTION of finding the truth, the best ideas, the greatest merit. The founding fathers didn’t trust the majority because we’re a bunch of stupid, spiteful little shits sometimes.

Of course, the inherent problem there is that politics is a popularity contest…

Anonymous Coward says:

banning ideas

“…banning ideas is not an effective way to deal with them.”

well, authoritarian regimes have had success with it, at least in the historical short term (USSR, North Korea, etc)

and if banning specific ideas was effective — you wouldn’t be aware of it, by definition

is banning guns an effective way to deal with them in U.S. ? (how would one know a priori ?)

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Re: banning ideas

For that last question – evidence says no. A difference-in-diference study (though nearly two decades old now) found that while the average violent crime/murder levels dropped nationally, and in general state-level crime rates fell to match, A state’s crime rate drop was slowed or sometimes even reversed whenever it passed a law that was more restrictive on guns. The sharp rise in crime rate happens within a narrow window after the laws take effect.

(I read this in a book some while ago, so I have no web link to cite with)

Will B. says:

“The only way to defeat bad ideas is in the marketplace of ideas, where through open conversation a better consensus can evolve.”

My faith in this sentiment has been sorely tested and shaken in recent times, and I am no longer certain I agree.

The free exchange of ideas can only result in the best ideas rising to the top in a culture that *values* the best ideas. America does not seem to be that culture any more; I am not certain it ever was; I am not even sure that culture can exist.

The free exchange of ideas has only seemed to result in more and louder partisan voices, more and louder tribalism, more and louder castigation of the ‘other.’ Debate is not undertaken to find the best answer; it is undertaken to *win*,at any cost.

In place of the discourse we have propaganda, echo chambers, advertisements; we have a country that pendulums between left and right every other election, that after a shooting takes refuge once again in blaming violent media, that defends a fault corporate interests that actively abuse them…

Help me here, Cathy. Give me some reason to have faith in a country where everyone has free speech, but those who have money have *more* free speech. I am despairing for this country you describe, where truth actually matters and good ideas actually rise on their merits.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

People with more money don’t have more free speech, they are just heard by more people.

Great speech doesn’t need money, because it will be heard and shared by many more people.

As for the NRA, the money they provide isn’t their power, it is the voting block they represent. Casting the NRA (and all gun owners) as evil if they disagree with banning guns is a mistake, because it will not give anti gun advocates what they want.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:

“People with more money don’t have more free speech, they are just heard by more people”

A dichotomy of meaningless distinction; the question is not who the speeh reaches, it is who the speeh influences, and we have seen a million times now that money influences politics and legislation far more than any actual speech. As for the NSA; their voting bloc is a perfect example of my problem. NSA propaganda has them believing the gummint is comin to take their guns; just look at the anti-Obama propaganda that said exacly that, in no uncertain terms. These people are not interested in debate, not searching for the best ideas; they are kept in fear to ensure they vote “correctly” according to those pulling their strings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am no NRA supporter, but if you think about things, if you want to stop gun violence, the only way to do that is to ban all guns. You can’t ban assault rifles, because 9 out of the top 20 mass shootings didn’t involve assault rifles. So you pretty much have to ban them all.

There are what, 100 million guns in the US? Maybe more, so what do you do about them?

Shit be complicated. Even banning gun ownership for the no fly list isn’t easy. Is due process used for that list? Do we get rid of due process as well?

Ban guns for mentally disturbed? Who determines that? Do we have a national database of depressed people? How about people with PSTD? Veterans, ex cops? But that is a different topic.

With social media, the right message at the right time will blow away any kind of sponsored or paid for message.

steell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“You can certainly round up the majority of guns an illegals” Can you cite some basis for that statement? Or is it just irrational opinion?

Are you seriously comparing the US to Japan? You’re right about one thing, it is a sign of ignorance.

There is no way to compare American and Japanese culture, they’re completely different. A shade over two million legal immigrants in Japan, vs how many millions in the US?

Oh yeah, go ask Connecticut how their assault weapon ban is going, last I heard it was about 3% compliance. But you’ll be eager to volunteer to go door to door confiscating guns, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“if you want to stop gun violence, the only way to do that is to ban all guns.”

Humans have violent tendencies, it is in their nature to be that way. Why stop at guns – they just use a knife, right?

So – you should replace the word gun with the word human and that gives you the following.

if you want to stop human violence, the only way to do that is to ban all humans.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

God, I hate this argument. It is so incredibly stupid.

To quote a favorite comedian,”Guns don’t kill people,people kill people… but I think the guns help.” This sort of massacre WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED with a knife. Have you ever tried to fight someone with a knife? Do you have any idea how hard it is to actually kill someone with a knife when they are fighting back? Ask a martial artist or a military member sometime.

With a knife, you would have a few major injuries, perhaps a death or two;still a horrific tragedy, but not a massacre. a person with a knife cannot go door to door casually stabbing people from a safe distance with them having no ability to at least TRY to defend themselves. Even the simple fact that it takes LONGER to kill someone with a knife helps, because that means fewer total attacks before the police show up.

“It would happen anyways” is a terrible, morally bankrupt, intellectually dishonest, fucking SLIMY response to the gun control debate. Go sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Ok – replace knife with your favorite weapon, a bazooka for example. It changes nothing. The knife example was used due to its popularity, recognition, etc. You are correct, a knife would not do the same damage but that is not the point. The point is, people are assholes and will do stupid shit – what sort of law is going to stop all possible assholes from doing all possible shit?

I have provoked another person to assume rather than discuss.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Timothy McViegh, Terry Nichols. The worse school massacre took place in the 20’s. Apathy is the reason this happened. Typical American, point the finger of blame at the NRA. Ignore the parent less child, ignore all of the warning signs, ignore how those signs were dealt with, ignore how first respondents responded. As for me and my house we are relocating to Switzerland.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Will, the point is, you don’t need an assault rifle to do this kind of damage. Proof of concept is the West Virginia shooting that killed 32. All done with handguns. 9 of the top 20 top shootings were done without assault rifles. Walk into a school with a shotgun or two and you will be able to do the same amount of damage.

The point is you have to ban pretty much all guns. Who is asking for that? If not, it is all just window dressing, hysterics an people trying to become famous or get votes.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:11 ...what?

You know, that’s fair! I’m kinda falling into the with-or-against mindset myself; thanks for pointing that out. Lemme rephrase: I am not certain what actual argumentation you’re putting forth with that post. Was it just an observation? Or was there some further point in reference to the debate on this thread that you were trying to make?

cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The point that is often missed is that accepting the basic understanding that bad people intent on harming others will simply choose different tools to carry out their evil- does not mean that we believe nothing should be done at all.
Hell, take away all guns and knives (forget the violent civil war that would be inevitable in such an aggressive confiscation effort)and angry and disturbed people will use their vehicles, build bombs from household chemicals, or get disturbingly creative by modifying construction tools like nail guns, power saws or welding equipment. What do we do when we get fed up with attacks using items like these?
Instead, let’s talk about what drives someone to harm or want to harm innocent people. And when the words “mental health” come up- lets clarify that most mental health issues are, by far, self-destructive, and do not manifest in violence towards others. We need to learn what disorders are related to violence because otherwise far too many people are being wrongly classified as potentially dangerous. What else drives violence? Broken homes, bullying, prior trauma or victimization, radical ideology?
And how do we identify and justly deal with a potential attacker, without expanding the surveillance state or empowering unilateral government actions that never have any accountability? How do we effectively deal with failures of past and future law enforcement?
What can we do to mitigate the harm and stop an attacker that never made it on the radar to prevent (like the Vegas shooter)? How do we empower individuals to act in self-defense, or take cover securely?
And how do we live without constantly being in a state of fear? And avoid a police state that just victimizes more innocent people.
These are all non-partisan, apolitical questions that we need to discuss.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:5 BS

Other countries with stricter gun control laws put lie to this. You aren’t seeing household-chemical bombs, people driving into schools, or people using power tools (really? Power tools? Do you have any idea how difficult it would actually be to weaponize one of those? They’re not balanced for it at all, many are still corded, and they are simply not DEADLY the way guns are) to commit massacres at anywhere NEAR the rate of shootings in the US. And, once again, all of these ignore that guns are just plain BETTER AT KILLING PEOPLE. Easier to acquire, easier to use (how many kids know how to make bombs of any particularly deadly level out of household chemicals? Compare the difficulty there to, say, picking up a parent’s handgun?), more effective at being deadly.
How about instead of bringing up mental health issues in the US to DISTRACT from gun control laws, we do BOTH – invest in mental health AND invest in gun control laws? In point of fact, if common-sense gun control laws include things like mental health background checks, we’ll NEED to make our mental health services better and more available for that to be effective anyways.
You make a number of great points about things we, as a country, need to look into; we need to change our culture around things like bullying, broken homes, and we need to rein in the surveillance state and police militarization.

NONE OF THESE THINGS ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE TO GUN CONTROL. So please, for the love of love, stop trying to use them to sidetrack the conversation. It’s nearly as bad as the thickheaded reactionaries blaming violent video games.

cattress (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 BS

Well, the Vegas shooter had gathered household chemicals used to make bombs and was driving around with them in his car, and the killers at Columbine had working pipe and propane bombs (and I was a high school senior during Columbine and the internet then was nothing like the treasure trove of information today). And more Europeans, who we are looking to as the example of “good” gun control, are killed by bombs than Americans. This is a viable alternative in the absence of guns. We have seen both here and abroad, especially abroad, that vehicles can and will be used as instruments of death and terror.
I am a little dubious on the statistics that claim there are more mass shooting deaths and frequency in other first world nations than the US when accounting for population, because it’s unclear how they determine their proportionality; but, I have seen similar stats coming from a variety sources, not just pro-gun activists. Other readers might be able to dig a little better into this than I have. And yes, I was stretching on power tools, but nothing drives creativity and innovation like a dose of necessity. People will find a way to kill and terrorize innocent people with or without guns. Aside from taking away the tools that more than 99% of people use and maintain responsibly because of the rare crazed individual, what other solutions to that individual are there?
Besides, there is no consensus on “common sense gun control”, too many people lack sufficient knowledge about guns to discuss seriously (myself included, except I know some basic terminology that most people are using incorrectly), and this lack of knowledge about guns makes “common sense” gun control even more elusive. Nonetheless, I am disgusted to see right-wingers trying to suppress and discredit the students. Ignoring their voice, disregarding their feelings, when this is so personal to them, and an experience that none of us can fully appreciate, it’s just plain wrong and will only fuel the divide. Without Sympathy an empathy for one another, why are we even discussing anything?
The issue that I wish the students would address with every bit the fervor of gun control and the legislators in the gun lobbyist pockets, is the repeated failures of law enforcement to do their job. And while cops and the NRA are pitted “against”each other on gun control, the NRA is a major supporter of police, and many officers are members. That disgusting ad the NRA did, portraying BLM activists protesting the cops as life threatening danger to law abiding [white] citizens. Where were they during Philando Castille’s trial? No where to be found because they were quietly supporting the cop. The cops have guns and essentially special rights to use guns against innocent, sometimes mentally ill (in a non-violent way), individual, with zero accountability. Cops always make sure they are going home for dinner at the end of their shift, but what about the teachers that used their body as a shield for students? Cops get the prestige and pay and power of a hero who would lay their life down for innocent people, but they couldn’t even be bothered to follow up on credible warnings of a kid whose skin was too white, and obviously lacked ties with the Muslim religion, let alone take a scintilla of risk and run into the building and at least try to stop the massacre. Should we trust the government to enforce fair and effective gun control? Even the military couldn’t be bothered to submit the record of a piece of shit who broke a 2 year old’s face, choked his wife and made numerous threats of violence to his superiors.
I prefer to maintain my natural right to self defense, and don’t feel that vast majority of law abiding people should risk being outgunned by corrupt and incompetent police, or a crazed killer that doesn’t care if they live or die.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:10 BS

Well, you certainly won’t hear argument from me that our current police culture is in any way acceptable; we agree on that point. As for your natural right to self-defense; I’m of the conceit that if we actually cared more about self-defense than we did about gun fetishization, we’d be looking into more less-than-lethal personal defense options.
And honestly, the idea that your right to self-defense extends to “not being outgunned by the police” is absurd on the face of it, isn’t it? I defy you to describe to me a situation where you either threaten a police officer with a gun, or actually shoot one, that DOESN’T end with you arrested or dead or fleeing to another country; no matter how reasonable your complaint against the corrupt cop, no matter how justified your actions, buddy, you’re in for it. Especially in a society like ours that – we both agree – puts cops on a pedestal above the civilians they are supposed to be serving. If your concern is being outgunned by the cops… you already are, no matter how many rifles you own.
Once again, you’re trying to present the difficulty of having this conversation as a reason not to do so; you’re saying “it’s too hard to hash this out, so we should just leave it as is.” I don’t buy into that, sorry; you’re right that it’ll be difficult to come to a consensus on common-sense gun control, but I feel that it’s worthwhile to have that discussion, worthwhile to try to draw up some harder boundaries for gun ownership and storage, to try to at least curb some of the violence happening here. And yes, someone who is determined enough can find ways of hurting others, but if someone is determined enough that they’ll find ways to hurt other people with or without guns, that person becomes irrelevant to the discussion of gun control. Gun control is relevant to the situations where it makes a difference; crimes of passion, school shootings where the shooter simply grabbed their family’s gun(s) and went on a rampage, situations like the texas tower sniper where it was the simple fact that he was using a sniper rifle rather than a bomb or a knife or a car that let the situation last as long as it did and cause as much damage as it did.
Regarding those statistics: if you’re dubious about them, I’m downright going to ignore them unless actually presented from a reliable source. Until then, mentioning them is just clouding the issue.
Finally: “Should we trust the government to enforce fair and effective gun control?” Buddy, we’re gonna have to, because common sense and liberty doesn’t seem to be doing the fucking job.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:10 BS

Regarding your dubious statistics comment:

“Two researchers — Jaclyn Schildkraut of the State University of New York in Oswego and H. Jaymi Elsass of Texas State University — analyzed mass shootings in 11 countries, covering the period from 2000-14. Aside from the United States, they looked at Australia, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland.

The United States has more mass shootings — and more people cumulatively killed or injured — than the other 10 nations combined, according to their research. While part of this is because the United States has a much bigger population than all but China, the difference can’t be explained by skewed population numbers alone.

When adjusted for population, the United States ranks in the upper half of their list of 11 countries, ranking higher than Australia, Canada, China, England, France, Germany and Mexico. The United States did rank lower than three countries — Norway, Finland and Switzerland — but they have populations so small that one or two mass-casualty events can produce a relatively high per capita rate.”

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:7 BS

According to the Swedish National Police Agency in 2006, there were a total of 656,000 individuals who had a license for one or more guns; 6.5% of the population. There were 2,032,000 guns or 21 guns per 100 residents. Of the 2,032,000 guns, 959,000 were rifles, 726,000 shotguns, 122,000 combination rifles, 88,000 pistols, 55,000 revolvers, 3,000 automatic guns and 78,000 weapons parts.

(Pulled from Wikipedia; their source is written in swedish :T)

There isn’t a “high caliber rifle in pretty much every house.”

Compare to the United States, which has an estimated 101 guns per 100 people, more than four times what Sweden has, and almost twice as many as the next-leading country, Serbia, which has approximately 58 guns per 100 people.

You’re right. Sweden doesn’t seem to have a problem with this. We clearly do.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 My point.

This is exactly what I was talking about. No interest in actually discussing the issue; just repeating the talking points of the NRA, and reframing the discussion to make their opponents (not interlocutors, opponents) seem unreasonable.

If only we lived in a world where people actually wanted to have discussions.

Anonymous Coward says:

No, let's censor Amazon! It holds views that I find odious, increasingly controls markets and buyers, needs a stop to its growth including its commercial speech. -- But YOU are a corporatist, always advocating NO LIMITS on corporations.

This is your most explicitly fascist post that I’ve read. You sneak around a bit claiming you’re not REALLY for censorship, but in fact ARE.

You take as a given that gun control is an obvious good: it’s cult dogma right out of the NYTimes, you can’t even question it.

Here you advocate "private censorship" — corporations curtailing MY First Amendment Right by controlling speech outlets — for advocating exercise of a Constitutional Right. The Supreme Court has decided that’s an INDIVIDUAL Right, so suppressing advocacy of it is ILLEGAL. — And no, I don’t accept your assertions that "platforms" have a "First Amendment Right" to control MY speech. Those are PUBLIC PLATFORMS, merely operated by corporations, which The Public allows to exist and PAYS FOR even if indirectly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No, let's censor Amazon! It holds views that I find odious, increasingly controls markets and buyers, needs a stop to its growth including its commercial speech. -- But YOU are a corporatist, always advocating NO LIMITS on corporations.

This is your most explicitly fascist post that I’ve read.

You forgot elitist as well.

Please, tell us the neo-nazi trailer trash side of the story….

Anonymous Coward says:

Corporations are NOT for purpose of controlling the population, YOU FASCIST.

So your solution to criminal acts is to take away MY rights; here it’s Right To Bear Arms, which is not for “hunting” or other purposes that YOU FASCISTS get to decide, but stating that I can use a firearm to protect ALL my Rights.

Also, with the piracy that you and Techdirt advocate, you want to take away MY right to control copies of my work, another explicit Constitutional Right.

**EVERY solution you “liberals” have means I LOSE Rights and liberty.**

You actually hate liberty, and are trying to get around amending the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Corporations are NOT for purpose of controlling the population, YOU FASCIST.

Well, he is partially correct. The problem seems to be that he is excluding the other side from his accusation.

the left and right are just two sides of hte same coin.

Both seek to control you, just just fight over how to accomplish that controlling of you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Corporations are NOT for purpose of controlling the population, YOU FASCIST.

I could be wrong but I don’t think techdirt has ever actually said go pirate stuff. What they have said is piracy is real and you must deal with it regardless of your views. That the way copyright is written it pirates content from the public and then holds it hostage for much too long.

Can you show an actual quote where they say you should pirate content?

An Onymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let’s ban you from using a computer so you can’t spread your anti-gun propaganda. Your efforts are (in the most infinitesimal way) eroding my right to bear arms to protect my home. If you are silenced then the world is better off for it.

I’m not actually taking a position either way on the topic of gun control but please try to understand what you’re saying at least as you’re saying it if not before. You can’t simply silence everyone you disagree with, for any reason. At least not in the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Bugger off with your academic, utopian free speech ideals that never work in the real world.

The NRA’s money, words, and actions are all in service of producing a country where the chances of people getting shot and killed will increase rather than decrease. They already wield outsized influence in Congress, in State Legislatures, and in the White House. I’m not going to lose any sleep if private companies like Apple/Amazon/Roku/Google decide to help even things out, exercising their First-Amendment private-platform rights by keeping the NRA’s spew off their digital airwaves.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You might consider why the NRA wields outsized influence in Congress and it’s not money. The NRA is barely in the top 10 of political contributions, and Bloomberg alone dwarfs them regularly, and yet the NRA still wins. By money alone, teachers and public workers unions should be running the country if monetary contributions were the sole factor determining elections.

Yet the NRA is considered a powerhouse. Why might that be? Because when they speak their 4-5 million members listen (something like that number, I don’t follow them much), as do a much larger number of non-members. The NRA speaks to a fair chunk of the population it seems.

You want to neuter the NRA? You’ll have to change public opinion as to the reliability of the government to do the right thing, which is where this push for censoring the NRA’s message comes in. I’d prefer robust disagreement, but it’s frankly easier to demonize the other side to marginalize their message and that’s what’s being attempted in this case.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I disagree with you, and it’s for the same reason as what I posted down further in this comment section: the NRA’s strength isn’t being able to wield 4-5 million votes, the NRA’s strength is being able to THREATEN to wield 4-5 million votes. Not everyone the NRA claims as a member is as hard-line about gun control as the NRA’s propaganda would have you believe.
Ultimately, the major power of the NRA isn’t mobilizing voters; it’s lying to voters about the issues, trading on fear of the government taking away all their guns and banning all guns for all civilians to kill the middle ground of stricter but reasonable gun control. You can see that in this very thread; people suggesting that the “only solution” we could possibly have to gun violence is to ban all guns forever. I would like to hope that even among NRA members, if you actually talk about the FACTS and present the arguments reasonably, many would in fact agree that things like background and mental health checks are pretty reasonable before you own a gun; most gun owners I know are actually incredibly, incredibly strict about gun safety on a personal level, and I could see that informing them on the subject of gun safety at a national level too.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

To clarify the point that I never actually made here: the reason for suppressing the message of the NRA in this case is that the NRA is ACTIVELY LYING TO ITS MEMBERS to keep them in fear. Fear is the easiest way to control people.
Which, of course, rolls back around to my disagreement with the original point of this whole article; free discourse only results in truth and merit when truth and merit are what the people involved in the discourse want. The voices leading the discourse in America don’t want truth or merit; they want to stay in control, and the people engaging in the discourse on their behalf don’t want truth and merit, they want vindication and a feeling of superiority.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Can I ask you to support the idea that the NRA is lying to its members? Not to support the NRA, but may I point out that various politicians such as Diane Finestein (a concealed weapons permit holder herself) have explicitely called for banning all guns?, we have Barak Obama praising Australia’s gun laws that lead to gun confiscation, or Ted Duetch wanting to ban all semiautomatic guns?

To say that the NRA is lying to its members that various politicians want to ban their guns is itself a lie, at least if we listen to the words above. There are a fair number of them out there who would do so given the chance, and they’ve been fairly frank about their desire to do so. I suspect that the NRA might be cherry picking the instances, but I wouldn’t know since I don’t follow them. The above 3 links were quick Google searches and just the top results. I suspect that more determined Google-fu would return a far greater number of results.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:


Your statement on Dianne Feinstein is a lie.

If Obama was praising Australia’s gun control laws, then he wasn’t praising a gun ban, since Australia doesn’t have a flat gun ban; they have gun control. You can still own and use guns in Australia.

As for Duetch, A) A ban on semi-automatic guns is not a ban on ALL guns, there are plenty of hunting weapons that are not semi-automatic, and B) the whole video is him talking with Rubio about crafting legislation they can AGREE ON. You’re really gonna use that as a demonstration of bad politicking?

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Ah, Politifact. Nice unbiased source, and I love the quote in your first link: "The Second Amendment is fading as a wedge issue in American politics" is pretty laughable, is it not? I know of only one other issue that seems to divide folks as starkly and that’s abortion. Both guns and abortion are pretty stark, defining wedge issues. Then there is the claim in the article that "The Democrats have avoided all gun control controversies assiduously." That’s quite the howler, itself.

Overall, your first link really doesn’t support your supposition, especially in the context of our present discussion on political parties. On the first point, the NRA mailer in question made an assumption without support and applied that to Obama, but the article didn’t note that the Kennedy bill would have banned even common deer rounds such as the 30-30 due to the standard to which the ammunition would be tested. So the NRA’s perceived threat existed; they attributed it to the wrong person, Obama, rather than Kennedy, but they got the political party right. On the second point, Sunstein’s comments were true made, and he only walked them back when he had to do so politically to get appointed, and even Politifact had agree. And on the third point, the NRA was factual. In essence, if not in strict literal truth, the NRA actually was correct about the Democratic party in general, but not about Obama’s personal involvement in the rifle ammunition ban in particular.

So we can’t believe what Diane Finestein said on tape? Remember, what are called "assault rifles" are really just semi-automatic rifles. They are no different than the majority of hunting rifles except that they look more like military rifles, and there are proposals that would effectively ban semiautomatic rifles.

In reality, the vast majority of guns sold are semiautomatics, so a ban on semiautomatics is essentially a ban on the vast majority of guns. This is especially true with handguns, so Politifact’s parsing of what Feinstein said is one of those 3 Pinocchio type arguments: technically it’s not all guns, but it’s the vast majority.

As for Australia and Obama’s admiration of their laws, the restrictions are draconian: you need what they call a "genuine reason" to own a gun, and self-defense isn’t a genuine reason. The vast majority of guns were confiscated in Australia under their laws, so support for their system is effectively support for gun registration and confiscation of the vast majority of guns in America.

And then there’s this little tidbit: according to YouGov, 82% of Democrats support banning all semiautomatic weapons, and 50% want to ban all guns. That’s sort of the NRA’s whole point in their propaganda, isn’t it?

So no, I still don’t suspect that the NRA is fearmongering or lying any more or any less than Planned Parenthood. Both are fighting even the slightest infringement of what they view as basic rights in highly polarized environments, often in the face of political parties who are extremely opposed to them.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Let's see here...

You start by sarcastically calling Politifact “nice and unbiased, haha” and then link your next statement to… Which has a bullet brass as part of its logo?
Regarding gun control as a “wedge” issue: gun control as an ISSUE only ever seems to come up in the wake of a shooting, and is quickly brushed away. Frankly, I’m amazed the issue is sticking as well as it is this time.
A ban on specific common deer-hunting ammunition is – surprise surprise – not a ban on ALL DEER-HUNTING AMMUNITION as the NRA claimed. So, yeah, they’re still lying.
“So we can’t believe what Diane Finestein said on tape?” Not when said tape is very deliberately cropped to misrepresent her words, no. Her exact words on the tape are: “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.” You’ll note that, taken out of context, that could as easily apply to condiment bottles as to guns; the actual context was an assault weapon ban. As stated on Politifact, she wasn’t talking about guns in general, she was talking about assault weapons, and her complaint about not getting ‘all of them’ was due to weapons sold before the ban went into effect being grandfathered in. This is not reasonable discourse; this is deliberate misrepresentation to push fear, which is EXACTLY what I’ve been against in this entire thread.
“…and there are proposals that would effectively ban semiautomatic rifles.
“In reality, the vast majority of guns sold are semiautomatics, so a ban on semiautomatics is essentially a ban on the vast majority of guns. This is especially true with handguns…”
Anyone else see the magic trick he just pulled there?
“As for Australia and Obama’s admiration of their laws, the restrictions are draconian: you need what they call a “genuine reason” to own a gun, and self-defense isn’t a genuine reason.”
Oh no, how terrible. Once again: tight, even draconian regulations are not a gun ban, and praising Australia for introducing new regulations – even those that lead to gun confiscation – is not proposing a law in the US. And, once again, confiscation of “the vast majority” of guns in America would still not be a ban on owning guns.
“82% of Democrats support banning all semiautomatic weapons, and 50% want to ban all guns.”
Well, for started, the poll doesn’t say that. 73% of Democrats ‘favor strongly’ banning semi-automatic weapons (I’d love to know how that question was phrased, since many people don’t know that pistols are usually semi-automatic), and only 28% ‘favor strongly’ banning all guns except for law enforcement issued firearms. Your 82% includes the 9% who replied ‘favor somewhat’, and your 50% figure is just a rounding error; 44% of democrats favor strongly or somewhat banning all guns, which you will note is not a majority. And no, that’s not the NRA’s whole point in their propaganda; their propaganda isn’t “These people want to ban semiautomatic rifles, and that is something we should debate against,” their point is “The government is coming for your guns!” The point of their propaganda is to drive fear of anti-gun legislation to prevent discourse on anti-gun legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Unbelievable

No I don’t believe they watch it, this is classic bullying. I have to question the virtues of any argument if to win it the opposing side of it must be silenced. I want to pick my own channels for myself from the full spectrum, will it include the NRA channel not likely until I find out they arguments are so strong that they must be stopped from making them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ok…someone help me out here. My understanding of the Bill of Rights is that it applies to dealings between the govt and it’s agents and citizens. I honestly don’t see where it says it applies to dealings between private entities.

If my interpretation is correct, which it may not be, then there is no standing for anyone to sue any social media under the 1st amendment. Granted you can sue anyone, anytime for anything if you want. I just don’t see how the Bill of Rights is cited as a reason. Unless there’s some tortuous path via interstate commerce or something like that.

If someone says or prints something that is untrue and/or harmful then there are state and federal statues to deal with that and civil courts to recover damages.

So IMHO this is a tempest in a teapot. The govt nor anyone else has any standing under the 1st amendment to tell Google, Facebook, Twitter or whomever what they can and can not censor. People can decide for themsleves and then just don’t use that service if you don’t like what they are doing.

Having said all of the above I despise the above mentioned services and I do not use any of them. I would love to see all of them implode and wither away to just being a footnote in some future history of the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

The NRA volunteered for censorship

when it filed its 501(c)3 application.

The state gives them tax exempt status, and in return they don’t act politically. Same goes for churches. So if you want to defend the NRA’s speech, go ahead. But do it AFTER they pay back all that taxpayer loot.

It would be nice if the NRA was still in the gun rights business. But now they’ve strayed into NN. They can call themselves saviors of the second amendment all they want, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing if they regard the 1st amendment with contempt.

And while a respect the first amendment rights of the citizens employed by the NRA, the NRA is a corporation, though it may be nonprofit. And conceding the idea that the NRA itself speaks is to validate one hundred years of SCOTUS having its head buried firmly up its ass, courtesy of a completely batshit interpretation of the the dictionary act.

An now that SCOTUS has abandoned habeas corpus for non-citizens on U.S. soil, I think it is fair to say that SCOTUS is just a bad joke all around.

If the NRA speaks out for the second amendment but concedes all others, then its consideration of the constitution as a whole is so wrong that its defense of any portion thereof is not worth listening to. They are just punks flailing for fame like a chickenshit boy band. I’m sure I could find plenty of kids in those deportation lockups that are more American than the NRA.

The NRA wants to kill NN, but won’t have anything to say about SCOTUS and habeas corpus? They aren’t about guns rights anymore, they are just a PAC like all the rest. Anybody who is a member would be better off joining the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Frankly I’d rather have the discount on a rifle, than a shitty magazine subscription anyway.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Free Speech Laws Are To Protect The Weak

Those in power aren’t the ones who have trouble getting their viewpoints across or their wishes put into action. That’s why we have laws, to provide checks and balances on power. That’s why we have due process, to try to ensure that the weak are treated fairly, rather than just being trampled by the strong.

The strong don’t need laws and checks and balances and due process. In fact, they see them as an irritation, and they do everything they can to get rid of them. This is an aim that must be resisted.

Yes, the NRA have suffered one or two minor bruises lately. But, as someone else said on another occasion, they have not yet begun to fight. They have millions of wealthy and powerful members. I expect to see some countermeasures from them over the coming days, weeks, months. There is a reason why they have been such an effective lobby group over so many decades, successfully stymying every effort at meaningful gun-law reform even as the school shootings and other mass killings kept on piling up the body count of innocent victims, year after year after year.

So I think that now is not the time to start treating the NRA as the underdog. Let us see them lose some of their arrogance and sense of entitlement and start acting with a bit more humility first.

In other words, wait until they start acting like human beings.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m posting this because I believe all of us in the firearms community should read it. I apologize if the text isn’t quoted. I can’t figure out how to do it from my phone. But here goes:

Posted on Patreon by the Military Arms Channel.

Interview with the New York Times

I was asked to do an interview with the New York Times. I have very strict guidelines I stand by when engaging with the media so they can’t twist my words. I was asked to do a phone interview, but declined and asked the journalist submit his questions in writing to me. Here’s my response to his questions. I will be very surprised if this makes it into print. Here’s my response to Jack, the NYT’s reporter:


I don’t know what your deadline is but I am packing and racing around in preparation for a hunt in Texas this week. We leave 7am tomorrow and I’m trying to get all the stuff packed. I am hunting with an AR rifle and we’re hunting an Axis Buck. I hunt almost exclusively with modern firearms such as the AR15. I can provide you with pictures from the field, however we won’t be in Texas until Saturday late afternoon. I can answer your questions, but I won’t be available for a photo shoot until I return on March 3rd.

This video will give you the back story on my first AR15. I got it while I was in High School. This video tells the whole story if you have the time to watch it.

I don’t publicly discuss the number of firearms I own. I will say I own several rifles based on the AR15 in various calibers. I keep one for personal protection and I have several I use for hunting all around the country. There isn’t a single game animal that can’t be cleanly and humanely taken with an AR rifle of some type. I prefer them because they’re inherently accurate, accessories are readily available, there are plenty of calibers to choose from, and generally speaking they are light weight making them perfect field rifles when you’re stalking game animals sometimes up to 1 mile or more a day on foot.

The AR15 is popular because it’s America’s longest serving US service rifle. Many Veterans prefer to own them because they served with a similiar rifle, the M16A2, M16A4 or M4 Carbine. The AR15 is not the same rifle as these, but is a close facsimile and thus very familiar Vets. Outside of that, even more non-Veterans (Vet’s account for about 1% of the US population) own AR15’s because they’re affordable, light weight for hunting, competitive shooting and for self defense. It’s “America’s rifle”. Most are chambered in .223 because it’s the standard caliber and it’s affordable. This is the caliber the vast majority of AR15’s are chambered in. AR type rifles used for hunting in larger, more powerful cartridges for larger game animals are far more expensive, are larger in size, several pounds heavier and therefore can fire larger calibers. The term “AR” describes a very broad number of rifles whereas “AR15” is very specific, and this is the most common AR type rifle out there, which is chambered in .223 Remington.

I have never used a firearm in self defense, in terms of having to fire the weapon at an assailant. I have deterred one robbery decades ago by showing a 7-11 store robber I was armed. He left the store he was attempting to hold up when he realized I had the position of advantage and I was armed. As with most criminals, they seek out “soft targets”. They look for stores with “no guns” signs, or choose places like movie theaters (almost all of them have no gun policies) or even, sadly, schools because federal law makes them “gun free zones”. Criminals are cowards and when confronted by someone able to fight back, they generally do everything they can to get out of the situation. They don’t want to meet with resistance, they want to carry out their cowardly act with little chance of meeting with armed resistance.

Here is a fact sheet with citations:

It’s interesting to point out that the GOA link above shows that armed citizens who use weapons in self defense do so more responsibly than police. Only 2% of the shootings where armed Americans used a firearm in self defense resulted in an innocent person being killed. Compare that to police who accidentally shoot the wrong person 11% of the time. This is not an attack on police, I 100% support our law enforcement, and police are in far more shootings than average gun owning Americans because of their profession. My point is that armed Americans are highly responsible people who legally use their firearms millions of times a year, without even firing a shot many times, to stop a crime or to save lives.

A Police One poll shows that the vast majority of our nations police believe armed citizens are a good thing and support our 2nd Amendment rights. Police One requires their members to prove their status as LEO’s before being admitted to their website. You can see the article and polling data here: -Are-legally-armed-citizens-the-best-solution-to-gun-violence/

The media generally seeks out police who are anti-gun, and who clearly are in the minority, to interview as it drives a political agenda many journalists are pushing. I would rather journalists stick to the documented facts and let the political commentators interject their agenda’s into their commentary. It seems true journalism is mostly dead in the United States these days as everyone has an agenda.

The AR15 is not an “assault rifle”. The phrase is a loose translation of Sturmgewehr, or a German word meaning “storm rifle” used to describe the StG 44 developed by Germany during WWII. An “assault rifle” is a very specific phrase that describes a light weight, select fire (machine gun), air cooled, firearm that chambers an intermediate caliber. The media mislabels civilian AR15’s as “high power rifles” as well as “assault rifles”. Neither is factually correct.

During 1994 the Clinton Administration knew the true definition of an “assault rifle” (banned since 1986 by President Reagan with the help of the NRA) so they fabricated a phrase that sounded similar for political reasons. The phrase they created out of thin air was “assault weapon”. The “assault weapon” can’t be defined by function because it’s nothing more than a self loading rifle, so they defined it by features and appearances. A pistol grip, a bayonet lug (how many bayonetings have you read about?), a ventilated hand guard, capable of accepting standard capacity magazines, etc. So, the “assault rifle” is only in common use by the US military while the “assault weapon” is a fabricated definition defined by a set of cosmetic features used to scare non-gun owners into thinking they’re one in the same (assault rifle being synonymous with assault weapon, which isn’t accurate). It’s dishonest and politically motivated.

You will see a confirmation of my assertions above by watching this video. These random folks on the street have been programed by the media using inaccuracies and purposely false narratives to drive a political agenda. This is the net result:

The media gets many things wrong, which I’ve pointed out a few of those items above. Average AR15’s aren’t “assault rifles”. They’re not “high powered rifles”. They’re not “military weapons”. They’re nothing more than a self loading rifle that looks scary and those with a political agenda use these scary looking features to drive a false political narrative to serve their agenda.

According to the FBI more people are killed by hands and feet than are killed with rifles, not just AR15’s, but rifles as an entire class of firearms. We don’t see politicians calling for registration of martial artists or MMA fighters. More people are killed by knives, again according to FBI data, than rifles — and not just AR15’s. AR15’s account for a very small percentage of long arms used by criminals. More people are killed by blunt objects than rifles according to the FBI. Source: xpanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_8_murder_victims_by_weapon_2009-2013.xls

When I see someone commit an act of evil or even gross negligence (like an accidental shooting), I crushes me. However, I’ve known more people killed by drunk drivers, motorcycle accidents and cancer than by a bad person using a gun. I don’t know a single person in my 50 years on this planet, that wasn’t in a combat zone, who was killed by a criminals using a firearm. I’ve known several people killed by drunk drivers. I lost 5 friends to motorcycle accidents as a young man. Should “crotch rockets” be banned?

When a drunk driver gets into a Corvette, that can easily violate the speed limit several times over, and kills a family in a minivan, do you blame the alcohol? Do you blame the car that’s capable of breaking all posted speed limits? Or do you blame the driver of the car? Do you call for prohibition on alcohol? Do you demand Chevy stop making the Corvette? Of course not. You always blame the driver.

When a terrorist blows himself up in a crowded market do you blame the bomb, or do you blame the terrorist?

When a terrorist rents a truck and drives it over a crowd of people, do you blame rental trucks or do you blame the terrorist driving it?

Why does the media grossly over exaggerate the illegal use of firearms and always blame the gun vs. blaming the person using it? Why the double standard?

In the case of the Florida shooter, why aren’t people blaming the FBI who had multiple reports of this mans actions and threatening statements and failed to investigate? Why don’t they blame the school who prohibited him from having a backpack on campus because he was known to be mentally unstable?

As a parting point, I would like for you to read some hard data regarding legal gun ownership in America. Again, all data presented cites the source.

Thank you for your time.

Tim / MAC

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It could certainly help. That’s all people are trying to do, you know; things that help, that reduce violence, that prevent at least some portion of the problem. Why does a solution have to 100% fix the problem for it to be considered? If it makes things better, isn’t that still worthwhile?

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Cars will be next.

Yeah, next thing you know you’ll have to take lessons and pass a course before you can get a licence to drive a car. And you’ll have to abide by all kinds of rules and regulations as to where and when you can use your car. And woe betide you if you do anything dangerous with it, you could lose that licence!

Knife Owner says:

20 people killed in knife attack

In countries that have strict gun bans..there are huge problems with knife attacks. In China it happens all the time..5 killed, 10 killed, 30 at a time.
In Australia it is simply not true there is no more muliple victim shootings.
In Chicago, 5 people killed 20 shot every weekend… ..nobody cares… Citizens say “we want more police to stop this madness..” City council says ok…we will raise your taxes to pay for it… “Uh no thanks..let the bangers shoot each other…”

Its not the fault of the millions of NRA members… Its the fault of all of us for not sticking up for the kids that are slipping out of society.

Will B. says:

Re: 20 people killed in knife attack

Source(s), please?

I’ve found two things via google-fu; one that says that a spate of school knife attacks killed 25 people OVER TWO YEARS OF ATTACKS (That’s still horrific, and I feel for the families of those killed and injured, but that’s a series of what looks to be about 10 attacks, and is still lower than the death toll in the Sandy Hook shooting, a single incident).

The other is the Kunming rail station attack which left 31 people dead; that is indeed a horrible thing, a massacre, but it’s worth noting that it was perpetrated by EIGHT PEOPLE, not a single person with a knife.

Australia has indeed still seen multiple victim shootings… but far, far, FAR fewer than America has. Nobody (or at least nobody sensible) on the side of gun control thinks that we’ll stop ALL gun violence; we’re just trying to reduce it, curb it; get it more in line with the other developed nations of the world. From what I can find (admittedly, again, on Wikipedia), there have been a grand total of FIVE school shootings in Australia since 1990.

Finally: NOBODY IS BLAMING the NRA members. This is not an ISSUE OF BLAME. We’re not talking about blame. We’re not pointing fingers of blame.


Getting defensive and saying “Well it’s not the fault of us, there’s millions of us, we can’t all be at fault!” is not helping. If you want to debate against gun control in the US, then DEBATE. Don’t shift the goalposts, don’t try to change focus, don’t get defensive and start playing the blame game; lay out your reasons for why you think gun control is wrong, and we can debate those actual reasons, as they relate to the United States.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re: Finally: NOBODY IS BLAMING the NRA members

You can blame the NRA as an ORGANIZATION for that, certainly, but I think you find most nominal NRA members are actually A) much more sympathetic to the victims of shootings than the NRA as a lobbying organization, and B) much less unified on the subject of gun control than the NRA presents them as.

Basically, the issue isn’t the NRA’s ability to mobilize their members as a voting bloc, so much as their ability to THREATEN to mobilize their members as a voting bloc; and of course they do this through misrepresentation of actual political positions, I.E. the OBAMA’S COMIN’ TO TAKE YER GUNS propaganda.

I have a fair amount of sympathy for people being actively lied to, even if I think it’s their fault for swallowing those lies.

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I think you find most nominal NRA members are actually ... much more sympathetic

Why do they vote in such a doctrinaire leadership, then? Why do they consent to remain in such an organization, if it doesn’t reflect their views? Because their presence is a signal that they do indeed condone such a position.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I think you find most nominal NRA members are actually ... much more sympathetic

Because the other option they are presented with is GUMMINT GONNA TAKE YER GUNS. I said that already; they’re being lied to, to keep them stuck in an eternal system of with-us-or-against-us partisan politics. Our whole system is built on that nowadays; why do you think, when presented with Clinton or Trump, most people voted for one or the other of them, despite hating both?

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I think you find most nominal NRA members are actually ... much more sympathetic

Oh – or do you mean why do they vote in that leadership for the NRA itself? They don’t; “But few NRA members—less than 7%—even take the time to vote. “I don’t bother anymore,” posted an NRA member in California, under the screen name HunterJim, “the insiders have set this system up so no outsider is going to be elected.”” ( Note that this article is from 2013)

Lawrence D’Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re:4 why do you think, when presented with Clinton or Trump, most people voted for one or the other of them, despite hating both?

I have no idea. The rationale behind your political system is a complete mystery to me. You claim to be “free” and “democratic”, yet you seem to have precious little choice among your leaders, and what is worse, you seem to put up with it.

I live in a country where there are currently 5 different political parties with seats in Parliament. This is because we have proportional representation, rather than a “winner takes all” system like you have. We have two major parties, of course, but neither has been able to win an outright majority since 1993. So we keep having coalitions. And yet things get done, to the reasonable satisfaction of most people. And there is a consultation process, which seems to work most of the time. Lobbyists do try to hijack the system from time to time, but mostly we manage to keep their influence in check. Voters are aware of the power they have, and when they get riled up, they will use it.

Maybe you should look at something along similar lines.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:5 why do you think, when presented with Clinton or Trump, most people voted for one or the other of them, despite hating both?

I can assure you, there are people in America who desire voting reform, myself among them; I’ve posted a number of times on Techdirt decrying strategic voting and calling for people to vote for their principles rather than for or against parties, but it’s difficult enough to change an entrenched system when you actually have the means to do so, and I am under no illusions that a random commenter on a tech blog is going to have much sway. :p
The best I can generally do is point people toward CGP Gray’s videos on why our political system is broken, and hope they get inspired to speak up too. That, and I do my civic duty and go out to vote, for all that I feel it’s pretty damned meaningless since I don’t live in a swing state (Massachussetts; we’re pretty solidly blue no matter what one voter does). Last election I wrote in No Confidence on my ballot.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Massachussetts; we're pretty solidly blue no matter what one voter does

To a degree, yes!

You know, it’s kinda funny. I live not too far from Concord and Lexington; I can drive down to the bridge where British troops were stopped by colonial militias after being dispatched to seize gun stores from the colonists in response to revolutionary attitudes growing. I can go see the monument to Paul Revere, visit the harbor the Boston Tea Party took place in; you would think that if any state in the Union would viciously uphold gun rights,it’d be the Commonwealth. Yet around here, gun ownership is relatively rare, and we have some reasonable semblence of gun control…

Knife Owner says:

Re: Re: 20 people killed in knife attack

Well..we can argue what the NRA members support and rally around until we are blue in the face..but the fact is that they have millions of individuals that support gun rights calling congressmen for generations..literally.. generations of families…not just a small group of people after after a shooting.

Some other observations from the pissed off gallery…

1) the number of people shot and killed in schools has been static over many decades. I think the yearly average is 60 or so..and the total was the same when the population was much lower and there were no AR style rifles. (rifles painted black)

2) people that discount society sticking up for the kids that are slipping out of the norm are simply burying their head in the sand… Everyone has to stick up for Willy..or bad shit certainly does happen.

—-A Few Good Men ——
Downey: I don’t understand… Colonel Jessup said he ordered the Code Red.
Galloway: I know, but…
Downey: Colonel Jessup said he ordered the Code Red! What did we do wrong?
Galloway: It’s not that simple…
Downey: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong!
Dawson: Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy

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