Journalism in the Public Interest

How the NRA Undermined Congress’ Last Push for Gun Control

We reconstruct how the NRA advanced two measures long on its agenda in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.


Last week, National Rifle Association President David Keene accused President Obama of being opportunistic by proposing reforms to gun legislation. We reconstruct how the NRA advanced two measures long on its agenda in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Last week, President Obama unveiled sweeping proposals on gun control, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, a reduction of ammunition magazine capacity and stiffer background checks on gun buyers.

National Rifle Association President David Keene quickly accused the Obama administration of being opportunistic. The president is "using our children to pursue an ideological anti-gun agenda," he said.

The NRA has already begun to lobby on Capitol Hill to counter the administration's effort.

To get a sense of what the NRA might do, it's helpful to look at how it scored a victory during the last major federal initiative to tighten gun control.

After a Virginia Tech student killed 32 students and faculty in April 2007, the Bush administration proposed legislation that would require all states to share the names of residents involuntarily committed to mental health facilities. The information would be provided to a Federal Bureau of Investigation database.

The idea, in part, was to help gun dealers get important information about whether potential customers were mentally ill.

In order to get the support of the NRA, Congress agreed to two concessions that had long been on the agenda of gun rights advocates — concessions that later proved to hamstring the database.

The NRA wanted the government to change the way it deemed someone "mentally defective," excluding people, for example, who were no longer under any psychiatric supervision or monitoring. The group also pushed for a way for the mentally ill to regain gun rights if they could prove in court that they'd been rehabilitated.

The NRA found allies on both sides of the aisle to champion the concessions.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., reportedly pushed the provisions, ultimately with the support of the bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. (McCarthy's husband was killed and her son wounded in a 1993 shooting on the Long Island Railroad.)

The NRA agreed to the support the bill, in exchange for provisions pushing states to create gun rights restoration programs.

Here's how it worked. It would cost money for states to share their data: A state agency would have to monitor the courts, collect the names of people who had been institutionalized, and then send that information to the FBI on a regular basis.

So, to help pay for data-sharing Congress created $375 million in annual federal grants and incentives. But to be eligible for the federal money, the states would have to set-up a gun restoration program approved by the Justice Department. No gun rights restoration program, no money to help pay for sharing data.

A spokesman for Dingell's office did not respond to calls for comment on this story. A McCarthy spokesman, Shams Tarek, said the congresswoman is now working on new legislation to "provide more incentives and stiffen penalties for states to put names in the database."

"We definitely think there's a lot of room for improvement," said Tarek.

The NRA supported Dingell and McCarthy's version of the bill, but the group won further concessions when the legislation reached the Senate.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who once joked he'd like to bring a gun with him to the Senate floor, blocked the legislation, citing concerns about privacy and spending.

He negotiated language that, among other things, would allow a person's application for gun restoration rights to be granted automatically if an agency didn't respond within 365 days of the application and allowed people to have their attorney's fees reimbursed if they were forced to go to court to restore their rights.

The final bill was sent to President Bush for his signature in January 2008.

The NRA praised Coburn and released a statement calling the law a victory for gun owners: "After months of careful negotiation, pro-gun legislation was passed through Congress today." (The NRA didn't respond to calls for comment.)

In an email, a Coburn spokesman told ProPublica that the senator "does not operate as an agent of the NRA when considering legislation regarding gun rights" and pointed to a recent statement on the president's gun proposals. (In the statement, Coburn said he supports improving the mental health database, but said overall, "we first must ensure our constitutional rights and individual liberties.")

Since the bill's passage, two analyses have shown that the NICS database has significant gaps, partly because of the way the NRA managed to tweak the legislation. Many states aren't sharing all of their mental health records.

A July 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that while the overall number of records increased exponentially since the law passed, the rise is largely due to cooperation from just 12 states.

The non-profit group Mayors Against Illegal Guns also released a report in 2011 showing that many states have failed to fulfill their obligations to report data on the mentally ill to the federal government. While Virginia and a few others have disclosed tens of thousands of records, 23 others and the District of Columbia reported fewer than 100 records. Seventeen states reported fewer than 10 records and four submitted no data at all.

"Millions of records identifying seriously mentally ill people and drug abusers as prohibited purchasers are missing from the federal background check database because of lax reporting by state agencies," the report said.

According to the report, the reasons for such uneven compliance vary by state. Some states don't turn over data because their privacy laws prevent them from doing so. Some states have a different interpretation on what kind of data needs to be provided, or what, exactly, constitutes "mentally ill" or "involuntarily committed."

Still others simply can't afford the expense of gleaning the data from the courts, providing it to the relevant state agency and then passing it on to the federal government.

The NRA-backed language creates problems for these states.

As a New York Times investigation found, many states haven't qualified for federal funding to share their data because they haven't established gun rights restoration programs.

In 2012, only 12 states received federal grants, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

A Coburn spokesman pointed out that some states have had trouble setting up restoration programs because gun control advocates in those states have protested them.

While mental health data has remained sparse, some states have made it easier for the mentally ill to restore their gun rights. As the Times noted, in Virginia some people have regained rights to guns by simply writing a letter to the state. Other Virginians got their rights back just weeks or months after being hospitalized for psychiatric care.

It's difficult to know just how many people in Virginia have had their gun rights restored because no agency is responsible for keeping track.

Despite the limitations of the mental health database, some gun control advocates still see it as better than nothing.

"The fact that so many states have been able to get so many records into the database does demonstrate a willingness on the part of certain groups to work on this issue and that's a good sign. The others really need to step up," said Lindsay Nichols a staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The group, then known as the Legal Community Against Violence, was one of several gun control organizations that opposed the legislation when it was first signed into law.

Nichols is optimistic that the NRA won't succeed in commandeering the gun control debate the way the group did after Virginia Tech.

"I think there's new awareness among the public and legislators that we need to take this issue seriously and it's not an issue where the public is going to accept political wrangling."

“some states have had trouble setting up restoration programs because gun control advocates in those states have protested them”
So actually the Left has to take a major share of the blame for preventing a reasonable program from being implemented. Gun owners shouldn’t have to keep making more and more concessions to make them feel safe.

See, I think the solutions to these problems are simple.  But it needs to focus less on the guns than on guns in the hands of irresponsible people.

For example, it might sound too extreme for most gun advocates, but I think that everybody in the chain of ownership should be responsible for any incidents that occur downstream.  “Know your customer.”  I don’t mean that to punish anybody or put an excessive onus on sellers, but rather to use the fact that the sale is the only chance we get to judge someone and sellers/lenders/whatever are in the best position to get a reading.  It also makes sure that gun owners are securing guns that aren’t in use—if someone stole your gun, you screwed up, plain and simple.

I’d also think that actual training—logistical and ethical—should be part of getting a license.  Anybody who ever took a driver’s education course has been scarred by the gory pictures of accident victims, so maybe that’s not such a terrible thing to show gun owners and again, use that period to get a read on whether they can be trusted.

Everything that focuses more on the gun (or the bullets) than on responsibility is worthless activity for the show of “doing something.”  Anything that focuses on a blanket idea of mental illness (as mentioned in the article) gives the DSM free reign over our lives, and potentially means that anybody we choose to label with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” (talking back to authority), say, is denied an explicitly protected civil liberty on what can be a spurious basis.  Imagine if all the shooters were, say, Latino, instead of suicidal, and now recommend a bill tracking where they live and denying them gun ownership.  Problem?  There you go.

However, we do need a better psychiatric system, too.  We do need to monitor people on drugs in an effective way, for example, even if that means keeping anybody under thirty under strict observation for a week or two.  We need to destigmatize suicidal thoughts so that people inclined to go out in a “blaze of glory” get help before they steal a gun.

The media also needs to step up.  I’m not blaming the TV news for creating mass murderers, but their behavior certainly makes it an exciting option for the kid who worries nobody pays attention to him.  Shoot a couple dozen kids and for months, your name and picture are headlines, and cable news gets your massacre a logo and Hans Zimmer-like theme music.  Everybody you’ve ever met, on national TV, is asked the question of what they could have done to prevent his alienation.

For someone who already resents the world for not giving him his over-entitled due and, hey, maybe suffering from some kind of Cotard delusion or otherwise worry that they can’t live up to what they should be, that could be a pretty good deal.

And the NRA has to go.  By reframing the gun debate as home defense and hunting, rather than defense from government overreach, they’ve already lost their fight and are stuck with cartoonish arguments like it’s probably video games.  Maybe Dungeons & Dragons and rock music contribute, too, guys.

That’s too funny. You are so right.


Perfectly put. How come it is so hard for others to see this?

“Everything that focuses more on the gun (or the bullets) than on responsibility is worthless activity for the show of “doing something.” “

Sometimes its seems people only care about being able to say they did something…whether or not it was the most effective action.

Shootings are the blood tax Americans pay for allowing the insane to have guns, accept it or leave…. John

I dont understand the tone of this article ... it makes it seem like its a ‘bad’ thing that the NRA successfully lobbied for states to have objective criteria to restore someone’s right to own a firearm after their psychiatrists affirmed that they are mentally stable.

Is Propublica actually arguing that once someone is deemed mentally ill, there should bear that stigma for the rest of their lives?

Do it the easy way. Some nuts shoot the leadership of the NRA. Then watch the NRA try to figure out how to protect *themselves* from their own kind….

josh twheatley

Jan. 24, 2013, 5:36 p.m.

Jerry, your an idiot plain and simple. Clearly most will see that. Thank god for the nra…maybe they are a bit extreme…but think about all the jerrys they have to fight through everyday. Keep fighting for us nra!

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

Jan. 24, 2013, 5:48 p.m.

I don’t know where you folks at Pro Publica live, but where I live more children are beaten to death by their Mothers’ worthless boyfriends than wind up on the wrong end of a gun. Seems to me that this discussion needs a little factual and historical perspective.

And here it is:

Mary Ann Burke

Jan. 24, 2013, 5:49 p.m.

I am told that during the weekends’ day of the gun, 5 shots were accidentally fired by gun rights people waving their guns around.  Three children were killed in Seattle a year ago, accidentally!  A gun kills instantly and ever so easily.  They certainly must be registered, so they can be tracked.  The more guns out there, the more people killed.


Thanks for the link!

I took some experts:

“How bad is our level of gun violence in the United States? Well, it’s bad. I won’t try to deny that; this is a violent country. It’s worse than most of the civilized countries of the world. But, to look at it another way, if you subtract out the murders committed with guns, our homicide rate still exceeds that of many other countries. The problem is the violence, not the tool.

We often act as if only the gun deaths are worth doing anything about, but what does that say about the thousands killed in car accidents, drownings, and fires? Why do we treat one death as a tragedy, but another as an acceptable price to pay for swimming pools and convenient motoring?

In 2011 there were 323 murders committed with rifles of all description, out of 12,664 total murders. Compare to 496 murders with blunt instruments, 728 with bare hands, and 1,694 with knives. Yes, knives were really used in more than five times (524%) as many murders as rifles. Handguns, of course, are the big killer, claiming 6,220.

If reducing crime were your goal, wouldn’t you ban the guns actually used in the most crimes?”

I could go on, great article!

@Marry Anne Burke

You are incorrect, more guns do not equal more deaths.

“the burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal
more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially
since they argue public policy ought to be based on
that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least
require showing that a large number of nations with more
guns have more death and that nations that have imposed
stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions
in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are
not observed when a large number of nations are compared
across the world.”

Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser, “WOULD BANNING FIREARMS REDUCE MURDER AND SUICIDE?” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy Vol. 30 N. 2 Spring 2007 page 693

*excerpts lol

@John: Great post! In addition to the arbitrary nature of authorities/experts deeming who is or who isn’t too dangerous to possess a weapon, I would also add that many of those who are mentally unstable enough to commit firearms murders have gone undiagnosed. Most of them kept pretty low profiles and/or seemed “perfectly normal” prior to committing their violent acts. Among the “diagnosed”, a young “impulsive” person can emerge as a “reasonable” adult. People should have recourse re-certify to rectify a wrong or if they’ve overcome the issues found in a previous diagnosis.

We’ve already given up many of our civil rights and liberties with the patriot act - fear based upper-level decisions which are turning us into what we’ve always been firmly against.

Our major focus should be on extensive required training, registration, yearly renewals, putting the teeth and funding back into the ATF (along with appointing a full-time head), shutting down gun shows, going after illegal trading/traders, buy back programs, heavy penalties to owners if something goes “wrong”, etc. Through all of these programs we could develop a responsible culture among those who choose to own guns and eventually weed out the “bad” guys.

I also favor banning assault weapons/extended clips, etc., (would leave the definition up to experts who have already placed many weapons in the banned category).

Carolyn everything you said make’s sense until the last line…when you say you support an assault rifle ban, it just sounds like you’ve been influenced by the media too much - whether you have or not. You know if anything, handguns should be banned based on the numbers. The media just doesn’t talk about that right now because AR15’s are in the crosshairs. Why do you support something that would make the least impact in gun crime and is clearly a ploy to pacify emotional citizens?

Studies have been conducted on the 94-04 assault weapons ban by the CDC, National Institute of Justice, and even the National Research Council panel noted similar results. That academic studies of the assault weapon ban “did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence” and noted “due to the fact that the relative rarity with which the banned guns were used in crime before the ban ... the maximum potential effect of the ban on gun violence outcomes would be very small….”

Firearms and Violence: A critical review, Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, Editors, National Research Council, National Academy of Science, NAP 2004, 2005, ISBN 978-0-309-09124-4

Does prohibition of anything EVER work?

Chicago has had some of the strictest laws on firearms, and they have repeatedly been proven ineffective.  Since the outset of the Chicago handgun ban, the percentage of Chicago murders committed with handguns has averaged about 40% higher than it was before the law took effect. In 2005, 96% of the firearm murder victims in Chicago were killed with handguns.(“2005 Chicago Murder Analysis Report.” Chicago Police Department. Table 6 (page 25), Table 7 (page 26), and Figure 13 (page 27).

When you read people like Jerry openly calling for NRA members to be murdered (with guns) - because Jerry cares so much about ending “gun violence” - you either see the hypocrisy and realize that gun grabbers will murder you in an instant, or your are a Communist on Government dole.

Carolyn, gun owners never call magazines “clips” - so when you use that word we see that you are TV-programmed. What a simple minded person you are. And thanks for supporting their banning something that YOU ADMIT IS UNDEFINED. Sure, let’s leave it up to the “expert” thieves as to just what exactly you support banning. And lets enforce these laws with guns also!

Carolyn is a prime example of a hypocrite. She will research anything other than guns, but uses rhetoric to disguise her misunderstandings. She likes to claim ignorance when it comes to guns instead of learning about them.  Says she cares about rights, yet wants to leave it up to these unknown “experts” to decide what she is allowed to have.

Whats ridiculous is how it doesn’t even take an expert to understand the differences in guns, they ave very simple machines of physics, easy to research and comprehend.

She is the scariest type of person in this situation. At first glance seems to be sensible, yet at closer inspection is clearly playing right into the media blasts of evil AR15’s and “clips”. No desire to actually get fully educated on the issue, just the side she wants to believe in.

@Rich and Kirk, Yes, I’ve done a pretty good job of researching everything except the myriad of different makes, models, along with their calibers, cartridges, clips, (magazines? thanks so much for the correction), etc., and which of these are automatic, semi automatic .... etc.

What I do understand is that the weapons under consideration for banning are those on the market which are designed to allow the user to cause many fatalities in a very short time span due to rapid fire and high magazine capabilities. From what I understand, machine guns are even more effective but have long been on the banned list.

So yes. I prefer those who are experts in differentiating among all the options to make the call. Rather than my being “hypocritical”, I would consider myself as being intelligent enough to defer to the experts. I wouldn’t consider myself competent enough to perform my own car maintenance for the same reason. I could learn, but time versus reward weighs in favor of me finding a good mechanic.

Whether or not we’re going to implement any of the measures we all agree upon (and disagree about) depends on our “do nothing” congress. Since Harry Reid wimped out on filibuster reform yesterday, the logjam in the House will presumably continue as usual.

Carolyn it sounds like you’ve done the minimum research possible….
You clearly don’t understand the weapons under consideration for being banned.

Did you even look at the examples of research I provided? Do you want more? If you want to listen to the “experts” why do you ignore those reports? H…y….p…o…..c…...

It is not intelligence to defer something to an “expert” when you can understand it easily yourself. It is laziness, and the excess of money. You are among the many ignorant lazy folk that get ripped off by their mechanics everyday. You don’t even care because you are too lazy to learn about what they are doing, and have excess money to throw at the problem. All because you are doing something else that must be more important, I mean who actually wants to know how something they use everyday works?

Did you know that you can run your car or truck off a fuel that is nothing more than smoke? Oh yeah the media never told you about that huh?....woodgas engine, google it!

You need to wake up.

Carolyn: “Here is my vote, you claim to be an expert, its not worth my time to figure this out on my own, you must have already done that, and will fight for my best interests, im intelligent for doing this.”

You are the exact individual mass media has been trying to mold you into.

“We often act as if only the gun deaths are worth doing anything about, but what does that say about the thousands killed in car accidents, drownings, and fires?”

Sigh. We’ve been here before. To repeat, many things like auto accidents, fires, drownings, and so on, are in fact studied and we do in fact constantly create and implement new rules and regulations and systems to ensure that fewer children and adults die in auto accidents, in fires, and in drownings.

We haven’t cured cancer after decades of research either. But the research goes on, and fewer people die each and every year.

Why? Because we choose to act, instead of sitting back and saying, “People are going to die of heart disease anyway, so why do anything at all?”

We work on curing cancer and we work on making cars safer and we work on making pools safer and so on. We can work on more than one thing at the same time.

The same applies to guns, gun safety, and gun control.

As mentioned, lots of people used to be killed by drunk drivers. But we enacted stricter blood alcohol limits, raised the drinking age, ramped up law enforcement and penalties, charged bartenders that served drunks and launched a huge public awareness campaign to stigmatize the dangerous behavior in question… and all of those things have reduced drunk driving deaths by over 2/3’s in just two decades.

In short, we did something about the problem.

As to assault weapons… I agree that the previous assault weapons ban did little, mostly because it was full of more holes than your average CT classroom.

That said, the current AWB is a mistake. A total ban on high-capacity magazines, including sale and resale, probably would have had the same net effect.

But truth be told, it’s your fault and the NRA and gun lobby’s fault.

We had Virginia Tech and the NRA said, “Now is not the time…” Columbine, “Now is the time to grieve. Later…” Arizona and Giffords, “...anything other than prayers…would be inappropriate…” Aurora, “There will be an appropriate time down the road…” Newtown, “Now is not the time to politicize this event…”

Later. Later. Later. Later. And later never comes.

Did the NRA work in good faith to enact universal checks or strengthen trafficking or safe storage laws? No. In fact, the NRA did the exact opposite, constantly working at the Federal, state, and local levels to weaken and/or eliminate gun laws and restrictions. They eliminated research funding. They enacted legislation that prevented the ATF from accomplishing its mandate.

But… what if “later” had came, and a few common-sense solutions had been passed?

No straw purchase and private sale loopholes? Then perhaps no Columbine. And if no Columbine, then perhaps no major media coverage and as such no Aurora and no Newtown? Gun safety and public awareness? Then perhaps the Lanza’s weapons might have been properly stored and secured.

And if nothing else, perhaps the anti-trafficking measures would have helped to dry up the supply of guns bought elsewhere and brought into our cities, and reduced the violent crime rate there.

Then, at least, the NRA could have pointed to those efforts and said, “Look. We’re concerned too. We’re working with you on this. Criminals shouldn’t have access to guns.”

They did not. And now everyone is facing the consequences of their stonewalling and inaction.

In the 1990s, Smith and Wesson decided they wanted to be a responsible corporate citizen — they announced that they were working with the White House to increase gun safety — for example, whenever they’d sell a gun, they’d include a gun lock. That seems like a great idea to me; after all, cars come with seat belts. But the gun lobby was incensed. They boycotted Smith and Wesson. And they forced that CEO out.

Even something as simple and straightforward as a gun lock is blocked by the NRA.

BTW, more guns, more deaths?

I’ve posted the following numbers before:

“The number of households owning guns has declined from almost 50% in 1973 to just over 32% in 2010, according to a 2011 study produced by The University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The number of gun owners has gone down almost 10% over the same period.”

But then several people here pointed me towards the skyrocketing sales figures for guns. Record gun show attendance. They point to a recent Gallup poll, where 47% of those surveyed admitted to owning a gun. PEW shows less of an increase, but an increase nonetheless.

And they’re right. Interest appears to be peaking. Ownership, which had been declining since 1973, seems to be rising once more.

Which leads us here….

The number of children killed in accidental shootings increased from 68 in 2009 to 84 in 2010, reversing a 20-year decline.

There were 851 accidental gun deaths of all ages in 2011, up from 606 the previous year.

The three states with the highest rate of gun ownership (MT, AK, WY) have a gun death rate of 17.8 per 100,000, over 4 times that of the three lowest-ownership states (HI, NJ, MA; 4.0 gun deaths per 100,000). 

The relationship is a near-perfect linear proportion: on average, as gun ownership goes up, the firearm death rate goes up. 

More guns. More deaths. QED.

And just for a change of pace, I looked up the wood gas engine and practically fell out of my chair laughing.

Yep, it’a all a big government conspiracy all right. I mean, if only people knew that could drive 60 miles or so before they needed to get out and shovel 100 pounds of wood into a bunch of stainless steel smoke-billowing cylinders attached to a trailer towed by their car.

This said it best, however, “...if we were to convert every vehicle, or even just a significant number, to wood gas, all the trees in the world would be gone and we would die of hunger because all agricultural land would be sacrificed for energy crops. Indeed, the woodmobile caused severe deforestation in France during the Second World War. Just as with many other biofuels, the technology is not scalable.”

Best laugh I’ve had today. Thanks.

According to this article above “some states have had trouble setting up restoration programs because gun control advocates in those states have protested them”

Its not just the NRA

Did you miss the first comment made by Josh?

I chose to believe a Harvard law report published in a peer review journal over your analysis, sorry dude.

More guns do not equal more deaths.

The woodgas engine can burn anything, not just wood. OH SNAP! How far do electric cars go before having to cant even move? No conspiracy at all, just the lack of need to look into such things by sheeple with excess money.

I laugh at how much money you waste then complain about how it influences decision making.

Bottom line

There will be no Assault Weapons ban, probably won’t be a magazine ban either.

It does not have the support need.

Universal background checks, probably, and for good reason

Michael Long: Thanks! Three great posts and the last one had me on the floor! It would seem now, due to the response to your third post, that a lack of understanding/concern about CO2 levels, along with weighing the pros and cons of using different energy sources is starkly evident.

What has my focus now (not losing sight of everything else) is the mental health component which seems to be the primary focus of this article. I’d love to have your input.

My knee-jerk reaction has always been to protect civil liberties, and the NRA has what I view, held a valid position in demanding the right to re-certify if a permit has been denied due to mental health issues. They have also rather successfully stonewalled the imposition of a reliable nationwide database through their implementation of separate dissenting state legislation.

(The NRA, of course, is very selective in WHICH civil rights to protect, since they definitely do NOT wish to protect our civil liberties as regards to promoting OUR safety FROM gun violence.)

I need to take the time to find out more about the criteria and methods used in the creation and maintenance of such a database and my schedule today won’t allow it.

Carolyn,  are one of those that believe we are the cause of global warming?

Both you and Mike are goofballs. this is too funny.

“Assault Weapons Ban Lacks Democratic Votes to Pass Senate”
Bloomberg article.

Your statement, “I choose to believe…” reminds me of climate change skeptics who relentlessly hunt down a single source that reinforces their preconceptions, then use it as the fundamental basis for all of their arguments henceforth.

Personally I liked this quote regarding the Harvard paper, “I would like to attempt to break down this essay for you, not because the authors are opponents to gun regulation, but because…”

What were you saying earlier about biased arguments? Or doesn’t it apply when said bias backs your own?

Regardless, the numbers I gave are not “my” analysis. But the “Firearms Death Rate per 100,000 (most recent) by state” data is out there, as are ownership percentages by state. Plot them yourself.

The problem with comparing numbers across nations lie in cultural differences and other factors. What applies here may not apply there, and vice-versa. Then there are factors that don’t appear based on numbers alone.

Switzerland, as the Harvard paper indicates, has extremely high gun ownership… however, Switzerland also has mandatory conscription into the militia of all men between 20 and 30.

The requirements for ownership of militia weapons mandates annual training and practice; laws for transportation and storage of firearms are strict and permits to carry are difficult to obtain; citizens are limited to a maximum of three firearms apiece. Weapons must be secured.

Switzerland’s gun policy requires all purchases of ammunition to be registered and recorded, and every gun legally sold to bear a serial number. Permits and background checks are required for purchase. Records must be kept and maintained.

In short, regulations that if proposed and implemented here would send the NRA leadership into a frothing apoplexy.

BTW, other fuels? Try rereading for comprehension. “Just as with many other biofuels, the technology is not scalable.” Other biofuels being “other fuels”.

And since you descended into name-calling once more, “Sheeple,” Rich? Sheeple?

Ah. I see. Sheeple. Because it’s blindingly obvious that no one could possibly look at the “facts” and come up with any other opinion other than that formed by your own preconceptions.

Why, the only possible explanation is that they’ve been brainwashed by the elitist intellectual liberal mass-media. Poor, poor, poor sheeple.

If only there were some totally unbiased organization devoted to bringing the truth to light! An organization backed by the gun industry, with gun industry executes sitting on its board. A lobbying organization whose top executives make millions a year keeping the flame alive.

And the gun industry profits flowing.


Did banning handguns in Chicago work? Did prohibition of Alcohol work? Did prohibition of Marijuana work? Does it work at all or does it cost more money and time than its worth? More guns do not equal more deaths, but banning them does for sure.

Banning the ones that are used the least crimes is plain stupidity.

Yes you can use other things, not only wood produces the right smoke.

We humans are very small part of climate change…the earth is getting HOT!!! But the entire universe is changing and the effects are felt all the way through to the smallest planets.

I called you a goofball, or do you have reason to think you would fall under the sheeple category?

Im not an NRA member, nor do I fully support or believe in everything they do. Anyone blindly following them is indeed one of the many sheeple in the USA.

How much effort have you expelled arguing with me over trivial things that you could have spent promoting your ideas to your local government officials? If I can so easily derail you, no wonder the media has such an impact. You looked up woodgas engines, hahah!

As I believe I said once before, the ideas posted here and elsewhere have been done primarily to refine them, to see what others thought of them, and to polish the arguments supporting them, and see what counter-arguments might apply and what else might need to be considered.

Basically, I’m writing a book.

Oh, and Chicago? Doesn’t do a lot of good to ban guns when traffickers simply cross over to an adjoining state. Universal checks and unshackling the ATF to detect and prosecute traffickers would in my estimation (and that of those in the CPD) do a lot to dry up the supply of handguns there.

So you haven’t contacted your reps?

traffickers crossing over to an adjoining state, you mean like the ones from mexico that bring all the banned drugs into USA?

Banning guns doesnt work.

More guns does not equal more death.
More gun restrictions do no equal less crime.

You forgot to quote the end of the Harvard article….personally I like the quote:

“Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University
of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated
study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to
determine whether Canada’s more restrictive policies had better
contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was
with the admonition:

If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did
not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” handguns,
but there it is—a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative
finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us
where not to aim public health resources.”

I suspect you’ve already done this, but I just went to Fox Nation and found a recent article on 2nd amendment rights, “Indiana County Ordinance Declares All Laws Violating 2nd Amendment Null And Void” - just to read some of the reader comments (as you’re doing here for resource material). My hair is on fire.

If I were writing a book about the attempt to enact sensible gun regulations in this country, I’d never be able to confine myself to the topic at hand - instead stray too far into the interconnected topics which lead to the incredible polarization we have here, education level and quality of education heading the list. Our lack of upper level critical thinking skills, lack of self-knowledge which leads to the inability to sort fact from emotion based opinions, which lead to data mining for “facty” opinions which support emotional positions, inflexible minds which reject adaptation to new information, regional traditions, smaller inland communities which center around church and tradition to find commonality and consensus (community pressure) versus diverse urban communities whose citizens hear more than one voice and tend to solve their problems using the tools of government.

The most chilling example that pulls it all together for me is the experience of a childhood friend. He came from a very church-centered fundamentalist family and community. Early in life he became fascinated with science, eventually became a well-known paleontologist. As a result, his family and community dis-owned him. Since his choice was to either cave in to community or follow his passion for knowledge, this “sheeple” chose to leave the flock and paid a very heavy emotional price for it.

Couldn’t have said it better…

“The final nail in the coffin of gun control was yesterday when Harry Reid backed off his threat to do away with the filibuster. It was going to be long hard slog to get to 51 votes for the reasons mention in this story. 60 votes is flat out impossible, they would have to get EVERY democrat including the ones now opposed, plus five republicans and so far not one republican has shown any interest.”

“Assault Weapons Ban Lacks Democratic Votes to Pass Senate”
By Heidi Przybyla & Julie Hirschfeld Davis - Jan 25, 2013

Just to make sure this doesn’t go through, everyone who wants to quickly voice their opinion to their reps!

Just to make sure the assault weapon ban doesn’t go through, everyone who hasn’t yet, but still wants to voice their opinion to their reps, here is a quick way.


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps withing 2 minutes or less.

While the minority libs try to collect information on guncontrol opinions to write books, we the majority of pro gun advocates voice our opinions to those who represent us, no wonder we win.

Carolyn,  are one of those that believe we are the cause of global warming?
Both you and Mike are goofballs. this is too funny.


Yep, comments from ‘round the web are interesting. But so is the history. Google: Atlantic Black Panther Gun Control.

“Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.””

“In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.” The Mulford Act, he said, “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.””

Yep, Reagan, the NRA, and even the Ku Klux Klan were all on the side of gun control. Seems the white people didn’t feel safe when all of the black people were openly carrying.

Odd. I thought more guns were supposed to make people feel safer?

Then there’s Neal Knox, who back in 1977 staged a takeover of the NRA leadership.

Knox wanted to roll back gun laws, even the ones that restricted the sale of machine guns. He believed that gun-control laws threatened basic American freedoms, that there were malign forces that sought nothing less than total disarmament.

There would come a point in time when Knox would suggest that the assassinations of the 1960s and other horrors might have been part of a gun-control plot: “Is it possible that some of those incidents could have been created for the purpose of disarming the people of the free world?”

William J. Vizzard, a retired ATF official, once said, “The NRA is a populist lobby. They get support when people are mad and stirred up. They want the attention. They’re not interested in fixing things. They want to stir things up, and the more they stir things up, the more members they get and the more money they make. What do they gain by compromising? Nothing.”

One might also mention that they more they stir things up, the more money that’s made by the gun industry backers who sit on the NRA’s board and on its nominating committee.

That’s why I found Rich’s “sheeple” comment so funny. He styles himself as a non-conformist different from all of the other “sheeple” mislead by the liberal mass media.

While he and others eagerly drink the cold and calculated marketing being served by a $12 billion dollar a year industry and its lobbying arm.

Lol what a surprise! A White supremacist group and a bunch of other white guys didn’t want black people to have guns, why on earth could that be?

“One might also mention that they more they stir things up, the more money that’s made by the gun industry backers who sit on the NRA’s board and on its nominating committee.”

This goes for both sides silly. But your side never benefits from the funding!

I admitted I’m a slave to mass media as much as you are, but I can recognize it better than some people and try to change myself. I also told you I’m not an NRA member, nor do I blindly follow them. Your comments make you sound just like what your labeling me as. Short of living off the grid, you are not escaping the control of money. Its funny how selective you are. How many people have you gotten to contact their reps?

When was the last gun ad you saw on tv? Or seen a gun add anywhere other than big box sporting good circulars ever before? their marketing is just so prevelant!! Every big industry has a massive lobbying arm. What a joke argument.

Contact your reps!


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps within 2 minutes or less.

Edward Sampras

Jan. 26, 2013, 3:29 p.m.

“Contact your reps!


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps within 2 minutes or less.”

Thanks for posting this Rich! As a Democrat, my gun rights are under attack like everyone else and I will do as much as possible to protect myself. I have posted this info on Facebook, Reddit and using word-of-mouth to my friends, family and co-workers.

You keep making that assumption that I haven’t contacted or discussed the issue with my representatives. Or my senators. Or the governor. Or Biden.

As to funding, that’s true. Hard to compete with the firearm and ammunition manufacturers who make billions selling firearms and fear to all of those people who’re told by Fox and the NRA that they’re coming for your guns.

In fact, I was in a meeting just the other day where we were considering just who you could get to weigh in on the other side of the issue. Law enforcement? Health and safety officials?

One proposal of interest lay in increasing civil liabilities for weapons used or misused in criminal acts or accidents.

And then getting the insurance companies involved to offer coverage for said liabilities, with discounts, of course, for proven safe storage, registration, firearm safety training, and so on.

As they’d stand to make millions from selling policies, they’d also spend millions on advertising and promotion.

Your welcome Edward! Spread it!

Well Mike you sure aren’t getting anyone else to.

I don’t even watch tv brother, I have no cable, I don’t listen mass media. I bought guns and ammo a long time ago and I’m not scared of loosing them because I know I’m on the winning side. You keep referring to blind followers. Every issue has some on each side.

Sure seems a lot of law enforcement are voicing their opinions agiasnt these proposed ideas, you don’t want to listen to them.

If I shoot at a bad guy, destroy property and or hit a bystander in the process. I’m going to get sued and all those issues will be covered if I have deep enough pockets, if I don’t , we’ll now I’ll have insurance to take care of that so that will be one less worry if when someone pulls the trigger.

...if im completely off the mark with that then think about this, how could it be enforced? Your basically asking people to register their guns with insurance, no one will volunteer to do that.

Contact your reps!


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps within 2 minutes or less.

Michael. Thanks for the great resource! I followed the link to the full and brilliantly written Jill Lepore New Yorker article, “Battle Ground America - One nation, under the gun” April 23, 2012. I noticed that using just those terms I would get a shortened version on the New Yorker site, so to get the full text, I added “black panthers” for the entire essay and it came up on the “Daily Steak” website. submitted 01/03/2013. Now I’m wondering why the New Yorker would post an abridged version, and why only that version comes up when the title is googled in.

“Battle Ground America - One nation, under the gun - black panthers”

It’s fact driven history, powerfully written. Anyone who reads it will more fully understand the original NRA purpose to their current position/drive to shift our previous interpretations/understanding of the 2nd amendment to the selectively literalist (revised) interpretations they’re currently trying to shove down our throats. Especially interesting is the information provided about the Reagan era hypocrisy in approving some expansion of gun regulations - driven by the fear of unregulated weapons falling into the “wrong” (people of color’s) hands… resulting in the Ku Klux Klan along with the NRA becoming short lived advocates for sensible solutions. The NRA had met the land of unintended consequences (equality under the law) and actually made some adjustments.

But again in our current increasingly polarized environment where everyone is increasingly free to dial up their preferred political agenda, free from the intrusion of accurate, balanced information, they’ve ramped up to “consequences be damned, full speed ahead!” Murdoch, safe in his NRA/corporate supported castle isn’t too worried about his negative press. He gets his audience to feed on it along with the rest of the hate, misinformation, and lies dispensed there.

It’ll be an interesting road ahead of us. As I suspected, you’re very active in joining with others who want to find solutions. I’ve also been an activist with a very long history of shared victories. At the top of the list was the achievement of civil rights, voting rights (still ongoing at the “enforcement” end). Since the last massive demonstration on gun regulations I attended was the “Million Mom March” in 2000, I’d like to see this one through: Achieving a safer, hence maybe a “nicer” country for all of us by reducing gun violence. The process is worth it since we then reflect on who we are and what drives us. Most of us already know it doesn’t have to be a fake testosterone boost through buying a Dodge Ram with a gun rack.


Haha good to know im not the only one entertained by this.

Contact your reps!


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps within 2 minutes or less.

Thomas Sowell: Do gun control laws even control guns
Jan 26,2013

The gun control controversy is only the latest of many issues to be debated almost solely in terms of fixed preconceptions, with little or no examination of hard facts.

Media discussions of gun control are dominated by two factors: the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment. But the over-riding factual question is whether gun control laws actually reduce gun crimes in general or murder rates in particular.

If, as gun control advocates claim, gun control laws really do control guns and save lives, there is nothing to prevent repealing the Second Amendment, any more than there was anything to prevent repealing the Eighteenth Amendment that created Prohibition.

But, if the hard facts show that gun control laws do not actually control guns, but instead lead to more armed robberies and higher murder rates after law-abiding citizens are disarmed, then gun control laws would be a bad idea, even if there were no Second Amendment and no National Rifle Association.

The central issue boils down to the question: What are the facts? Yet there are many zealots who seem utterly unconcerned about facts or about their own lack of knowledge of facts.

There are people who have never fired a shot in their life who do not hesitate to declare how many bullets should be the limit to put into a firearm’s clip or magazine. Some say ten bullets but New York state’s recent gun control law specifies seven.

Virtually all gun control advocates say that 30 bullets in a magazine is far too many for self-defense or hunting — even if they have never gone hunting and never had to defend themselves with a gun. This uninformed and self-righteous dogmatism is what makes the gun control debate so futile and so polarizing.

Anyone who faces three home invaders, jeopardizing himself or his family, might find 30 bullets barely adequate. After all, not every bullet hits, even at close range, and not every hit incapacitates. You can get killed by a wounded man.

These plain life-and-death realities have been ignored for years by people who go ballistic when they hear about how many shots were fired by the police in some encounter with a criminal. As someone who once taught pistol shooting in the Marine Corps, I am not the least bit surprised by the number of shots fired. I have seen people miss a stationary target at close range, even in the safety and calm of a pistol range.

We cannot expect everybody to know that. But we can expect them to know that they don’t know — and to stop spouting off about life-and-death issues when they don’t have the facts.

The central question as to whether gun control laws save lives or cost lives has generated many factual studies over the years. But these studies have been like the proverbial tree that falls in an empty forest, and has been heard by no one — certainly not by zealots who have made up their minds and don’t want to be confused by the facts.

Most factual studies show no reduction in gun crimes, including murder, under gun control laws. A significant number of studies show higher rates of murder and other gun crimes under gun control laws.

How can this be? It seems obvious to some gun control zealots that, if no one had guns, there would be fewer armed robberies and fewer people shot to death.

But nothing is easier than to disarm peaceful, law-abiding people. And nothing is harder than to disarm people who are neither — especially in a country with hundreds of millions of guns already out there, that are not going to rust away for centuries.

When it was legal to buy a shotgun in London in the middle of the 20th century, there were very few armed robberies there. But, after British gun control zealots managed over the years to disarm virtually the entire law-abiding population, armed robberies became literally a hundred times more common. And murder rates rose.

One can cherry-pick the factual studies, or cite some studies that have subsequently been discredited, but the great bulk of the studies show that gun control laws do not in fact control guns. On net balance, they do not save lives but cost lives.

Gun control laws allow some people to vent their emotions, politicians to grandstand and self-righteous people to “make a statement” — but all at the cost of other people’s lives.


Contact your reps!


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps within 2 minutes or less.


Same here. I am a democrat too, but I am strongly against this attack on the second ammendment, and lessen my ability to protect my home and my family as a law abiding citizen, and safely using a range to shoot for sport and practice. Very upset that this man I voted for is a hippocrite and a liar, telling us that this is NOT part of his agenda, yet here we are. Thanks to everyone helping to spread the truth vs the propoganda being spread by the political machine.

“Great bulk…” with no citations. “Most factual studies…” with no citations and a “No True Scotsman” to boot. “One can cherry-pick the factual studies, or cite some studies that have subsequently been discredited ” ...with no citations.

Many, most, the majority, etc., etc., all appeals based on the presumed majority. And “if” they save lives more lives than they take… yep. If. (Kleck was debunked, by the way.)

And I agree, contact your representative. But when you do so, tell him not just what you want to blindly oppose, but also tell him what you support.

Dear Congressmen,

I support the ability of criminals and the mentally disturbed to quickly and easily buy any weapon of their choice, at any time, from anyone, without any background check whatsoever.

A few gun owners that resell their weapons should face no minor inconveniences whatsoever.

I support shackling the ATF so that a few gun dealers can sell guns under the table to traffickers so they can bring them to our cities and resell them to criminals and drug dealers.

I support straw purchases, so a girlfriend or friend can buy me the guns I couldn’t get otherwise.

I don’t support CDC funding for studies regarding the causes and potential solutions to gun violence. We’re always better off making decisions without facts.

And I don’t believe in laws promoting safe storage. Anyone, including children, neighbors, contractors, thieves, and more, should quickly and easily be able to steal my pistol from my nightstand and my shotgun from my closet.

I believe that anyone, including the aforementioned convicted felons, drug dealers, the mentally disturbed, and the inept should have the free and unrestricted right to carry concealed weapons with no background checks, training, or certification whatsoever.

After all, we’re safer when *everyone* has guns.


If you don’t like the assault weapons ban, but do think we should strengthen the background check system (as do about 92% of Americans), then tell him you don’t support one, but do support the other.

One hears the phrase “responsible gun owner” tossed around quite a bit. And I full well know that there are many of them out there. I’m one of them, myself.

But if you’re a responsible gun owner, then act responsibly. Vote against measures that don’t make sense, and vote for measures that could, in fact, help keep criminals, kids, and the disturbed from obtaining weapons. And using them.

Don’t fall for the extremist rhetoric being served from BOTH sides of the debate.

Micheal Long go read what the Ruger Take Action now letter says, then realize you just wasted your time again.

Contact your reps!


“Ruger Take Action Now!”

You can contact all your reps within 2 minutes or less.

Yeah, I read it. “Do NOT pass more gun laws.”

Do nothing. Point fingers elsewhere. Misuse of facts. All straight from the NRA and gun lobby playbook.

One might even suspect you of astroturfing for Ruger, being that every other post is now a link to not to a policy or opinion or government contact web site, but to a specific gun manufacturer’s site.

Doesn’t Ruger make the SR-556? Their variant on the AR-15 platform? Yep. No conflict of interest here…

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