America needs gun control now

I have an article in the can about Laurent Koscielny. I will publish it later today or tomorrow. But I feel like I need to write about something that has been bothering me for quite a while now: guns in America.

Now, I know that a lot of people’s buttholes just puckered at the mention of guns. But we need to have real conversations about this and other problems if our nation is going to progress.

I also know that people are going to get upset and claim that I’m exploiting a national tragedy. A madman with an automatic rifle just killed 58 people in Las Vegas. But we can and should have these conversations all the time and I find that people who get upset whenever someone writes an article after a national tragedy are simply trying to censor their opposition. Typically, these people aren’t grieving. They just don’t want anyone to talk about gun control. Ever.

I am a gun owner. I was raised around guns. I got my first gun when I was 14. I own semi-automatic rifles and handguns. I have a concealed carry permit. I am a member of a local gun range.

I have witnessed gun violence. I saw my father shoot my dog in the face on accident. He was drunk, we were throwing cans in the air and shooting them. He kept missing. When he missed a can and it fell to the ground, he shot at the can, my dog jumped in front of the gun, he shot her.

There was blood everywhere. I cradled her in my arms in the back of the pickup truck as we rushed to the nearest vet. She survived. I don’t know how.

When we lived in Hawaii a man killed his girlfriend and then went on a rampage. The cops chased him to my neighborhood and a shootout ensued. My father grabbed his 44 magnum and when the man came to our door my father pointed the gun at him and told him to get away from the door. The man went next door and took those people hostage all day until he finally ran out of meth to smoke and gave himself up.

I remember running out of the house and seeing cops with guns out, their windows shattered, bullet holes in the side of their car. It was a war scene.

And when I was 13 one of my friends briefly dated a girl. She became obsessed with him after he broke up with her. She got a 22 from her father’s gun cabinet. She took that gun to school. And after a basketball game, she pointed that gun at him and shot him and his best friend. She later shot herself.

I know guns.

America needs gun control. And before you think that we have any real gun laws in this country what I want to do with this article is pull back the curtain a bit and show you what guns in America really means.

First off, what is a gun? You probably don’t know this but Sig Sauer makes a “gun” which is literally just a trigger assembly. You can drop that trigger assembly into a number of different frames and slides. This is the Sig P320. When you buy that gun, you need to have a background check and in my state, you have to wait five days.

But even further removed from that oddity is this new thing that is happening with guns: 80% finished lowers. This is an AR15 part that you can buy without a license or a background check. You buy it for $80, you watch a YouTube video, and you drill a few holes and before you know it, you have a fully operational, completely legal, unlicensed, gun. It takes a lot more to put those together than just $80. You have to buy an upper and a trigger assembly, but you don’t have to pass a background check.

They have 80% lowers for Glocks as well and these are significantly easier to put together than the AR15. You can go to a single web site and for about $500 have a completely unlicensed, home-made, no serial number, Glock.

And what about other types of guns that you probably think are illegal? How about a silencer? To own a silencer, you fill out a form, get some fingerprints, send the ATF $200, and you get a license to buy a silencer.

Or how about a short barrel rifle? For example, Sig makes a short barrel AR15 and a short barrel 9mm. If you want to be completely legal about it, you do the same process as you do for the silencer. Or.. you can skip all that and buy the “pistol” version which has what they charmingly call an “arm strap” which is actually just a rifle stock. It is illegal to shoulder such a weapon (put it up to your shoulder) and I’m sure that no one has ever done that.

Fully automatic weapons are also legal in these here United States of America. They are mighty expensive, however because to get one of them you have to buy something that was manufactured before 1986. They can sell for $15-20k and then you do the same $200 stamp thing through the feds as you do with a silencer or a short barrel rifle.

Or you could just watch some youtube videos and turn your glock into a fully automatic weapon. Of course, that’s illegal, unless you have a license to do that. Which you can also obtain from the ATF.

You could also just legally convert your AR15 into a “sort of automatic” weapon with a simple, drop-in trigger. The trigger operates on a “positive reset” method to achieve rapid fire which completely mimics automatic fire. That trigger costs $250 and doesn’t require any paperwork from the ATF.

Maybe you’ve been paying attention… you can legally build an automatic weapon in the United States of America, completely unregistered, no serial number, untraceable, no background check, no special paperwork. It doesn’t take special skills or even expensive equipment: you can drill out the lower receiver of an AR15 with a hand drill and jigs are readily available to help you do just that. Then you buy all the other parts online, there are even kits that you can buy for around $800 that are literally just like assembling a Lego set. Then you get your “positive reset” trigger for $250 and you got yourself the exact kind of rifle that Steven Paddock used to rain down death on 58 people in Las Vegas.

The biggest problem with all of this is that it is self-perpetuating. I own guns because there are so many guns in this country that I have to own a gun. I have to train my 9 year old daughter how to use a gun because I know for a fact that at some point in her life, she would have encountered a gun whether I wanted her to or not. America is awash in guns. If more guns made us safer, we should be the safest country on the planet and yet each year it seems like we have larger and larger mass shootings. More guns don’t make us safer. More guns just enrich the gun manufacturers. They want an arms race in this country, because it makes them rich. And that’s exactly what we have. Do I need to get an automatic weapon now? Is that really how we want to live? Under the threat of murdering each other constantly?

Today President Trump said that there are no easy answers. Bullshit. The easy answer is that these companies which manufacture triggers which turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon should be put out of business. The easy answer is that 80% lowers should be illegal. The easy answer is that guns should be highly regulated, expensive, and require a license to own. The easy answer is that semi-automatic weapons could be outlawed.

There are easy answers and as a gun owner the easy answer is that I want gun control laws.



  1. That was informative, thank you. I had no idea.

    By the way, if the idea here is that implementing regulation will address the kind of violence we saw today, then I’m not convinced. If you’re interested in killing a lot of people with an automatic weapon, and to get those weapons you have to fill out some paperwork, get printed, and pay a fee, then what’s at stake is your identity. That’s it. Consider, then, what it matters for a shooter to be identified after he’s committed suicide. Where’s the dissuasive power of a regulated system then?

    I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to regulate and enforce laws regarding automatic weapons. I’m saying that the problem is a violent gun culture that is America.

    1. Surely making it harder to buy (at least) semi-automatic and automatic weapons will make mass shootings less common, though of course, if that’s all that changes, some of them will still happen. Maybe the guy in Las Vegas would still have gotten his hands on those weapons, but some of the shootings we’ve had in the last 25 years would likely have been prevented, since acquiring the sorts of guns they used would have been illegal and the perpetrators would have been caught or stopped from acquiring them, right?
      It’s one thing for there to be “regulation” (which you see as likely ineffective); it’s another thing to make certain kinds of weapons, and certain kinds of weapon parts, flat-out illegal, and while really bad/crazy people will always get around the laws at times, as a nation we can surely make it much harder to do so. That’s what I understand Tim to be saying here.

    2. I’m saying we should outlaw automatic weapons – I’m not saying that we should keep doing the same stupid shit that we are doing right now. What we are doing right now is a wink and a nod toward outlawing things.

    3. Criminals love gun laws. Gun laws keep the black market lucrative. Until law enforcement put a dent in the black market, law abiding citizens may be forced to go to the black market too if gun control were to overshadow this country. It’s the dark heart that’s at issue here. Hunters will be forced to used other means to hunt. People will be forced to use other means to defend themselves that gives the criminal a clear advantage. I agree that there has to be balance, but the balance should never tip the scale in favor of the criminals.

      1. I don’t agree with this.

        First, I’m not saying “outlaw all guns”.
        Second, every country has criminals. In countries with strict gun laws there are a lot LESS gun crimes. This is just simple math: fewer guns = fewer gun deaths.
        Third, it is currently illegal for felons (criminals) to own any guns, gun parts, ammunition, or even 80% lowers. Gun laws are currently in effect but they aren’t being meaningfully enforced. If anyone can buy an 80% lower, and drill it out to make themselves an AR15/10, plus buy all the other parts online then we basically have just handed every criminal the ability to buy a gun without any background checks. Why on earth would we want that?
        Fourth, it’s not the criminals or the crazies that are the problem. This is a problem with people legally obtaining firearms that have no purpose other than mass human destruction.
        Fifth, I am a hunter. I hunt with a bolt-action 30-06. I also have a 45 long colt single-action pistol that I carry when hunting in case I’m attacked by a bear. Almost every hunter I know, all the ethical ones, use bolt-action rifles because they want to kill with a single shot in order to minimize the animal’s pain. I’m in favor of bolt-action rifles and single-action pistols. That man in that tower sure wasn’t going to kill 58 people with a bolt-action 30-06.
        Sixth, for home defense your best option is probably a small pistol: shotguns are too loud and will both deafen and blind you in a home defense situation and an AR15 is completely unnecessary and would probably endanger your neighbors in a firefight.
        And there is literally no argument for civilians to have semi-automatic rifles with gatling gun, bump fire, and rapid reset triggers. That’s not for hunting, nor home defense. They are simply batshit crazy.

  2. I live in Sweden. This is a country with a lot of wild life (70 % of the country is forests), and hunting is a popular pasttime for many people. We also have tight restrictions on guns. You cannot own a gun of any kind without a license, and there are a lot of regulations how the guns should be handled (you need a lockable gun cabinet, etc).

    Most people here find the American debate on guns insane. I have never heard anyone arguing for anything close to the regulations that exist in some states (this is regulated by the states, right?).

    To be sure, Sweden and the US are different countries. Sweden is small, homogenous and quite peaceful, while the US is anything but. Yet I think this shows that there is very little to the argument that stricter gun regulations will hurt for example hunting och competitive shooting.

    Great post, by the way!

    P.S I have question. Are gun regulations a partisan issue (democrats vs. republicans) or are the parties internally divided on the issue?

    1. Generally speaking, it’s a partisan issue. Democrats want tighter gun controls while Republicans don’t. The NRA pours a lot of money into politics and they have a massive amount of funding from the gun industry.

    2. re: partisan politics around guns…

      Few politicians in the US are really in favor of gun control laws. That said, it does tend to fall along party lines and Democrats are generally more in favor of gun control while Republicans are almost all against gun laws.

      1. It is obvious that some Democrats are legal gun owners themselves. In California, they passed legislation to exempt state politicians from obeying their own gun laws.

    3. Broadly you can say it’s a partisan issue, but the truth is, it’s an “NRA backed politicians” vs “the few who resist the temptation to give in to NRA money” issue..

    4. “Sweden is small, homogenous and quite peaceful”
      Is it still? What about the We Are Sthlm sexual assaults? Bravalla? Neither peaceful nor homogeneous.

      1. You are correct in that there have been some highly publicized incidents like you mention. There has also been an increase in gang violence and right-wing extremism of recently. But on the whole Sweden is still very safe, especially compared to the U.S.

        There are political forces that are trying to make the impression that Sweden isn’t safe anymore. These are both in national politics and abroad. Russian and Trumpian propaganda has is that Sweden is on the verge of chaos. This certainly not true.

  3. That bit about 80% lowers is an eye opener. I had no idea it’s that easy to assemble your own automatic weapon.

    Personally I think there should be federal ban on personal ownership of semi-automatic and automatic weapons. I don’t have a huge issue with owning hand guns for protection or guns you can use to hunt. Not that I advocate hunting, but I can tolerate as long as it’s within reasonable limits. But anything more than that seems completely unnecessary.

  4. here in malaysia, it takes a LOT of work to get one legally, and yet my country is so corrupt, street gun killings still happen, though not at massacre rates. often gang, political or triad related assassinations.

    in smaller singapore down south, i quote the law “mandatory death penalty for anyone who discharges a firearm in the course of committing a serious offence, even if no one is injured or killed.”

    peace loving hippie me would not miss it if guns we’re removed from civilian life altogether

  5. Now I hear that you buy a “trigger crank” online for about $40 that turns your semi-auto AR-15 into something very close to an automatic weapon. It is speculated by some experts that the Vegas shooter probably had something like that.

    Although the body count is much higher here, for the most difficult thing to witness (albeit on TV) was the Sandy Hook school massacre. I still tear up at the thought of it.

    If that incident did not move the needle for Congress I don’t think anything will including what’s just happened.

    In Canada where I live, we have had 8 mass shootings in the last 20 years. The Guardian reports that there have been 1,516 mass shootings in the US in the last 5 years.

    There is a lot of violence here as well. Too much. But the huge difference even accounting for the fact that Canada’s population is only about 12% of the US is stark and depressing.

    1. Bump fire is another method for getting around the semi-auto limitations. Though that trigger crank is seriously fucked up.

  6. Couldn’t agree with you more. We need gun control laws.

    But, after Sandy Hook … I remember thinking that if Sandy Hook could not foment change, then I am not sure what it would take

    1. “I’m not sure what it would take”

      It would take Fox News.

      There are two types of people in this country, generally speaking.
      People who watch Fox News, and folks who don’t.

      Sure , there are also millions who listen to conservative radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh or even the info wars’ crank – Alex Jones, but they don’t come anywhere close to the numbers of Fox News’ market share.

      Simply put, Fox News frames the political debate in this country.

      NRA are not all powerful, and their financial contributions to Republicans in both Senate and the House aren’t insurmountable , but it is the threat of primeries against those common sense republicans ( however few there are left) by the NRA backed hard right candidates ( Alabama’ s Roy Moore latest example) that put a fear of God into them and makes them cast votes to stifle , not only any meaningful gun control debate, but even any research about gun violence which defunding CDC was a good example of.

      Personally, there’s a better chance of snowballs in hell than any meaningful gun control in this country.

  7. Wow. It’s worse than I thought. There shouldn’t even be a debate about this. It’s crazy that you can get automatic weapons, leave alone the fact that they could be unlicensed.

    But it’s not going to happen, is it? There will always be opposition from people who are more afraid of ‘tyranny’ or criminals having them outgunned. (Aren’t they already?)

    Meanwhile you’ll have more mass shootings, more police shootings and an ever increasing number of guns flooding the streets.

  8. Glad I don’t live in the States! There’s a glorification of the gun culture over there that makes me feel uncomfortable. In England and France, you wouldn’t own a gun unless you’re a cop, a hunter or a gangster. That makes a huge difference. You can still run for your life if a thug tries to attack you with a knife. But your chances are close to zero if that thug has a gun.

  9. I just read that the number of Americans killed on battlefields
    in all your wars in history is 1, 396, 733
    while killed by firearms in the US since 1968 is 1,516 ,863.

    That is one damned statistic and I’m not sure modifying the laws will do anything to alleviate the easiness of pulling a trigger.

    Tim, you wrote that you are teaching your daughter now what a weapon represents. Well, what scares me is that half of the people in your country that have firearms are buying them because of the other half that have them. And to be honest, in a state like that, I would probably as well.
    To me it’s unfathomable how easy is to obtain a weapon in the US and just goes to show the power that NRA (money) have over everything else.

  10. I’m a Canadian and a libertarian. Generally I’m against gun control laws, I hated the long-gun registry we had up here that unfairly (in my opinion) targeted hunters and at great bureaucratic cost. That said, hunting rifles are one thing… why does anyone need a semi- or automatic weapon? Protection? From what, the zombie apocalypse? I don’t get it. You can’t buy a tank or an anti-aircraft artillery gun. Why can you buy an AR-15?

    That said, my brother-in-law belonged to the high school shooting club and used to bring his rifle to school and put it in his locker, nobody ever touched it or tried to steal it, nobody blinked an eye (this was the late 70’s). Something beyond just the proliferation of guns is going on.

  11. Damnit…

    I accidentally trashed a very good comment. If you have time, could you repost?

    I apologize for the use of madman. Now you know who you are.

    1. I don’t have a copy, unfortunately. But I appreciate you taking the time to let me know. I’ve run several WordPress sites and I know how easy it can be to click the wrong button.

      Thanks again for all your very fine work.

  12. I live in Tasmania, Australia. Once upon a time we had the world’s single most deadly mass shooting in history in our small, peaceful state.

    The response to this shooting was incredible when compared to what happens in the USA. The Australian Conservative party initiated broad increases in gun control and this was taken up widely by the population with broad support. How could we possibly let something like that happen again?

    The response in the United States each time this happens is sickening. The mindset that guns are needed to protect yourself is the problem in my mind. What sort of life would you be leading if you think you need guns to defend yourself? To teach your 9 year old child how to handle firearms?

    It is an endless cycle of fear that will sadly never end, and this is a tragic feature of the modern world, but particularly the United States.

    I will never own a gun, and wouldn’t even if I lived in the US. This is because I know that it would not improve the life and happiness, or safety of myself and my family, and I could not in good conscience, provide any financial backing to the filth that is the gun industry and the NRA.

    I enjoy your writing Tim, and remember vividly your telling of the story of your father shooting your dog from its previous telling. It makes me sad, however, that even sensible citizens like yourself feel the need to own firearms, even after the experiences that you’ve had.

  13. It’s hard to know what to say looking in from outside.

    The old ‘thoughts and prayers’ is an empty joke at this stage and what can you say when so much of the country is opposed to stricter gun regulations. At what point in the future will outside sympathy start to run out for a country with a serious problem that it wants to do nothing about?

    Your gun stories are terrifying Tim. I don’t think I could live in a country where everybody has guns because nobody can trust anybody else.

      1. I see Bill O’Reilly has actually said this kind of thing is just the price Americans pay for your freedom.

        I guess for people who arm themselves out of fear, no number of dead will ever be big enough to change their mind. The bigger the tragedy, the bigger the reason to have even more ‘protection.’

        Saying all that, it seems that one of the guitarists playing at the concert has changed his mind on gun control after the shooting…

        ‘Keeter went further, describing the deadliest shooting in modern US history as a revelation. He said that members of the band’s crew have concealed handgun licenses, and legal firearms on the bus.

        “They were useless,” he said. “We couldn’t touch them for fear police might think that we were part of the massacre and shoot us. A small group (or one man) laid waste to a city with dedicated, fearless police officers desperately trying to help, because of access to an insane amount of firepower. Enough is enough.”
        (the guardian)

  14. Thanks Tim, a sane conversation. I abhor weapons having seen firsthand the destruction they cause. Having said that, I can appreciate hunters and the notion of self-protection. Neither require semi-automatic or automatic weapons. Like you said, the solutions are easy- apparently being courageous politically is not. When does enough really become enough?

    1. I think it will literally never be enough. The culture (in this respect, and many others) is broken. As a proud American, it makes me incredibly angry and sad.

  15. This feels like intruding on someone else’s tragedy, so apologies, and much sympathy and commiserations for what you’re going through.
    From this side of the pond, it seems incredible that the laws still exist that enable these horrors to continue taking place.
    The old adage that it’s not the guns that are dangerous, only the people shooting them, is pure disingenuity. Of course it’s the people who are dangerous but in an un(/der)regulated and un(der)controlled gun market, these people are given full opportunity to cause maximum damage.
    If they were more easily available in the UK, we’d have similar problems; indeed, the scale of the terrorist atrocity at the Bataclan 2 years ago was a direct result of the relatively easier access to guns on the continent.
    Have a gun amnesty, regulate, license, clamp down on the types of gun that can be bought and the people who can buy them. I realise that carrying arms has much more cultural baggage over there but it is still utterly staggering that the NRA have managed to defy the logic of, and presumably the public’s desire for, greater gun control for so long.
    The alternative to any serious response is to just wait for the next lunatic/psychopath/deluded nutcase to decide to wreak their vengeance on their fellow man. I’m sure I recall Obama saying that the last time too and yet, tragically, here we are again.

  16. Hi Tim
    Great article and really eye opening with regards to how easy it is to obtain a gun illegally.
    There used to be an assault weapon ban in place under Clinton that the Bush administration let expire. Now the current administration is allow military grade weapons to be supplied to the local police forces all in the name of safety. Unfortunately the only things it beeeds is more guns, every one wants to one a bigger one. Until the gutless politicians develop a spine, this is not going to change

  17. My last comment on today’s post is to share another remarkable statistic: with about 4.4% of the world’s population, America has almost 50% of the world’s civilian owned guns.

  18. America in 2017 is pretty much the real world test case of letting the foxes run the henhouse and there is no area where this is more acute than the discussion on guns. There’s a 10000 word essay on things like Citizen’s United, Fox News, etc and the changes in the country that have brought us to this relatively new point where we can’t even discuss gun control, let alone enact or enforce anything, but I don’t have time to write it and nobody wants to read it. But its really sad every single time we watch a bunch of innocent people die and we have nothing more to offer than empty thoughts and prayers and a vote later in the week to make it easier to acquire silencers.

    I’m personally the type of hard liberal who thinks we should round up all the guns and melt them down and I don’t really care if that means people have less fun hunting deer but even without that being a possibility in this country ever I can’t imagine any scenario in which any rational person needs the killing power of semi- or fully automatic weapons. And we don’t want irrational people having any weapons at all. Unfortunately, the citizens of this country have long since passed the point of the possibility of a rational debate on the topic, so we reap what we sow and innocent people die.

    Its pithy to constantly quote the famous Onion article on the topic, but the Onion does a better job of summing the issue than most of our real newspapers and politicians. ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens, indeed.

  19. I guess I’m the heretic then.

    Before I waste my time, is there an actual point that is open to discussion or is everyone already satisfied that there is but one truth?

    1. I don’t know man. Seems like a pretty open forum here with people willing so have a conversation. But surely there comes a point where SOMETHING has to be done?

  20. I don’t believe opinions have ever been restricted here. Though, I myself cannot understand the American obsession with guns when so many of your fellow citizens, friends, children (and pets) have been victims of gun ownership. What I can understand even less is the refusal to do something concrete about it after every single incident. Surely you have to at least try to make things better, safer, saner…?

  21. Well here in India the laws are pretty strict and a common man can’t get his hands easily on any type of guns.
    Still there are ones with the guns who run around exploiting the masses. Guns have given them huge power and they simply show that power openly these people includes businessman and politicians.
    They get away with killing people and the law takes years to put them behind the bar.

    My point mentioning this is that even if you make it strict and bring some laws some people would still have the access and one of them can go crazy and go for a shootout.

    The best chance of stopping the whole thing is to bring a total closure of the arms and ammunition business.
    Is there any gun producing factory in Syria or Afghanistan the answer is no but still people have access to all the latest stuff by means of black market or whatever and I do believe that gun manufacturers are do getting a cut out of those deals. But just imagine that there are no guns produced to buy then this would stop atleast the gun violence in coming future.

    Stop the production of guns the production should be done only by government and that too in a limited numbers for the armies and police officials no other companies should be allow to manufacture a gun, a bullet or even a simple coil of the gun.

  22. Back in the day, (late 80s and early 90s) when I spent about 6 months in total in the USA, I met many remarkable people and still have many great memories. There were two things which grated though, the main one being that otherwise sane and rational people turned into raving lunatics at the mention of gun control. It still confuses me that a generally intelligent & well educated population can end up, 20 years later in a WORSE position, especially given what’s happened in the rest of the first world. There must be some kind of herd mentality or ‘groupthink’ idiocy going on and to be honest, I’ve given up caring. If Americans want to keep on killing each other, rather than be sensible like everyone else, then all our concern is rather pointless.
    Other’s have written more eloquently than myself on most of the points I was thinking of making but there’s two things I’d like to add:
    1. Here in the UK, we have had precisely two mass shootings of the type that occur regularly in the USA. They are etched into our national consciousness, Hungerford and Dunblane. After the first, which just had it’s 30th anniversary, stronger gun controls came in (the BBC did a very thorough review – After the second, in 1996 when children in a primary school were murdered, handguns were banned completely. I know of nobody who opposed these measures which leaves us in a similar position to that described by Daniel from Sweden.
    Since then, apart from terrorist attacks, we have had precisely zero. The closest I can remember was Raoul Moat, who shot 3 people in 2010, only one of whom died (he shot his ex, her new lover and a policeman; I remember him because he spent about 2 weeks evading a huge manhunt).

    2. What the above really comes down to is having trust in your police to keep you safe. Everything I read about the US police says that they don’t do this. We probably get a very one sided view here but it feels like if you’re black you can be shot with impunity so long as the shooter is wearing a uniform. Sort that out and maybe you can start to imagine a point where people just have a hunting rifle that’s locked up securely. Sort that out and maybe people like Tim will stop training a 9 year old to use a weapon. Nobody in the Western world should have to do that.

  23. I disagree with the main thesis of this post. I come from a communist country, but am a naturalized US citizen who owns no guns (but I’m glad others do). The right to bear arms is part of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution – it far predates NRA or any other lobbyist organization. The first 10 amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights, were a prerequisite to the Constitution being passed in the first place. The 2nd Amendment, guaranteeing the right to bear arms, is arguably the most important in the Bill of Rights, as it secures all others. America has something unique there, something that other countries can only hope for – a genuine deterrent against an over-reaching government, placed in the hands of the people. This would be unthinkable in a communist society, which is why communist regimes were able to kill 10s of millions of people with impunity – because the people had no means of defense. The 2nd Amendment is about neither sports nor hunting – it is a guarantee that what happened in, for example, Eastern Europe or Cambodia, cannot happen in the U.S. without great risk to the government. I don’t expect anyone who hasn’t lived under a communist (or otherwise oppressive) government to understand this point of view, but I put it out there nevertheless.

  24. Sorry Marek but this is a typical misrepresentation of the second amendment that reads like something straight out of the NRA playbook.

    Leaving aside the overblown importance of the second amendment for a moment (most would argue that the first amendment , along with the rights to due process, speedy trial , and trial by jury are the bedrock of any modern democracy), I seriously doubt the framers ever intended for individual citizens to be able to stock pile military grade weapons capable of raining down thousands of rounds per minute, when a single shot musket was the weapon of the day in 1791.

    The second amendment was meant to maintain public order and not to empower the oppressed to take up arms against the government .

    The “well armed militias” , which is what the second amendment pertains to , were called up to fight the British( 1812), against slave uprisings, or against Native Americans over land , just to name a few.
    Coincidently only one out of those three might be considered today a just cause.

    The idea that the armed to the teeth population is what keeps the government honest is quite frankly laughable.

    As a registered gun owner myself, I know what I would favor in a case of government over reach. A good lawyer over a gun any day.

    1. Tom,

      The first 10 amendments, which include the 2nd, are not “overblown” – they are the precondition for America existing. They specify the rights which Americans have just because they are human beings. These rights belong to the people, and no government should ever try to take them away (or there will be resistance). No other country to my knowledge has this. My family came to America partially because of this “freedom” (of course, we didn’t understand the Bill of Rights back then).
      As to your other point, I can just as easily say that it is “laughable” that a lawyer is better than a gun. Should the 10,000,000 (no one is sure of the exact number, we’ll never know) kulaks who were starved to death in the Soviet Union simply have hired good lawyers? As late as 1980 the Polish government declared martial law in the country – you literally couldn’t travel from city to city without passing through military checkpoints – do you think there was a Polish ACLU taking the army to court? I actually started laughing as I typed this. I knew people back then who would try to sneak around these checkpoints to go to nearby villages to get some meat, because there was literally not enough meat available on the shelves in the city. Silly people, they should have just brought a lawyer. On the other hand, an armed populace, even if it can’t “win” against a government – it still makes the government think twice. That’s better than anywhere else in the world.

      1. You can have an armed populace and also have gun control. There are already limits to all of our freedoms. To the first amendment, you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater. To the second, you cannot own a rocket launcher or grenades, or a 50 cal automatic weapon. Each of the rights we have have restrictions.

        1. Sure, but libel or slander are illegal as well. They are just exceptions. The rule remains – the people have a right to it, unless a very-well argued exception applies. BTW, you can own a tank or a fighter airplane in America. I have never felt threatened by a tank owner.

          Did you ever watch the gun debate between Ted Nugent and Piers Morgan? Which one did you think would feel more at home in a 1984 scenario? I know my answer. Piers would be more than happy to consign a fellow human being to jail or worse for bucking the party line. Ted, although crazy, would live and let live. Do you disagree?

      2. “The first 10 amendments, which include the 2nd, are not “overblown” – they are the precondition for America existing”

        Marek, if you are going to misrepresent my position on the Bill of Rights , then perhaps any debate is pointless .

        I said the importance of the Second Amendment is overblown by people like yourself vis a vis other amendments.
        And if you were to be right about that, one would have to wonder how the rest of the world’s democracies got it so horribly wrong about the gun control.

        Except they didn’t did they.
        The US leads all other countries in guns per capita yet it is nowhere near the top ten Wolds strongest democracies , which kinda puts 50cal bullet holes in your less than neatly crafted opinion.

        Thanks for the Polish history lesson but I was there and maybe the last thing the country needed during the food shortages , was armed citizens shooting at each other in order to feed their families.

  25. I sent a letter to my senators..

    Sen. Murray,

    I am a responsible gun owner who is horrified by what is happening in our country and I want my government to make some sensible changes.

    First, I would like to see modifications that turn semi-automatic weapons into full auto (or nearly full auto) made illegal. As you know, ordinary citizens cannot legally own an automatic weapon made after 1986. Though a handful of automatic weapons are available and can be obtained they are typically very expensive and require an ATF license. But there are now a number of systems out there which allow users to skirt the law and which can be used to create a weapon that is technically a “semi-auto” weapon but which is defacto full auto.

    Stephen Paddock used a system called a “bump stock” which uses the weapon’s recoil to create rapid fire. He would not have been able to murder 58 people and wound some 500+ others without that horrifying modification to his weapon. These should be strictly illegal.

    But there are other methods out there which are being used to create rapid fire weapons: there are a number of “positive reset” triggers out there right now which for $250 brag that they can make your AR15 nearly full auto. While their claims are exaggerated they do increase rate of fire and with practice can imitate rapid fire weapons:

    There are other mods that people can do, like the “gat crank” which turn a semi-auto weapon into a weapon which shoots 600+ rounds per minute.

    All of these things should be illegal.

    And there is one more scary development out there right now: 80% lowers.

    An 80% lower is a lower receiver for a semi-automatic rifle (almost always AR-style) which can be sold over the internet to anyone for $50. The user then uses a hand drill and some jigs (which are also available) and in an afternoon can make a semi-automatic rifle. These rifles are unregistered. They are untraceable. And because they can be easily obtained without a background check these are the perfect weapons for criminals or people who want to obtain a rifle with zero government oversight.

    This is possibly the single most dangerous threat to the safety of our country. Domestic terrorists like Dylann Roof no longer need to go to a gun shop and fill out a firearm transfer form in order to buy a weapon. They simply go to a web site like and buy the whole kit for $600.

    They can also build handguns from 80% lowers. These are even easier to manufacture as they are polymer and the kits to put one together cost under $700. Again, these are completely unregistered, untraceable, weapons. People refer to these as “ghost guns”.

    We live in a country where I have to take my shoes off and be subjected to a full body x-ray to get on a plane because we are afraid of foreign and domestic terrorists like ISIS or James Alex Fields Jr. And yet those same people, those same groups, can legally purchase an untraceable rifle, install a bump-fire system, and slaughter hundreds of Americans. And don’t think that they won’t be eager to imitate Stephen Paddock.

    I am a gun owner who purchased his weapons legally and own only registered weapons. The minimum standard that I expect from my government is that all weapons will be registered, that only citizens of the USA will be able to obtain these weapons, that people will be required to submit to a background check, and that automatic weapons will be outlawed.

    That is the country I want to raise my nine year-old daughter in. That is why you must draft legislation to put an end to the sale and manufacture of 80% lowers, bump-fire systems, positive reset triggers, and gat triggers.


  26. Tim,
    Enjoy your columns and the thought and effort you put into them.

    I will not comment on your politics.

    Dems and Pubs are both culpable in the madness that now exists.
    No mental health care and facilities have existed in over 30+ years.

    Arms manufacturer’s dump millions of weapons on the streets every decade.

    Anyone with a brain can change most semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic one’s in hours.

    The only way out is to get off the oil drug, out of the Middle East and everywhere else, wind down our military industrial complex, and funnel that money into mental health programs, and real legislation the neuters the weapons manufacturer’s. Until then just don’t waste my time.

    This coming from an ex-military infantryman who owns a pistol for home self defense.

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