Journalism in the Public Interest

The Best Reporting on Guns in America

In the wake of last week’s shooting, we’ve laid out the most revealing reporting about guns.

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July 24, 2012, 8:48 p.m.



Lisa B.

July 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

@ Mike H.

People DO stop killers.  It was an unarmed and wounded woman who stopped Loughner and got his gun from him in Tuscon.  We can stop mass shootings with sensible gun laws, starting with a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles, fixing background check loopholes, and prohibiting mass purchases of ammunition online.

Trudy Chandler

July 24, 2012, 9:35 p.m.

The right to bear arms is slightly less ludicrous than the right to arm bears…....just saying


July 24, 2012, 10:53 p.m.

Perhaps someone could explain why they would NEED an assault rifle.  Do we also need grenades? And why is it that purchase of chemicals to build a bomb can be “regulated” without limiting legitimate access to those products and assault rifles/large magazines/ammunition that kill en mass cannot? Keep your handgun. Keep your shotgun. But a machine gun? What for? Are you living in a war zone?

Lee Stevens

July 24, 2012, 10:57 p.m.

Re: Mike H -“but the 2nd amendment is not about hunting.”

True.  My point was that guns have a role in our culture even without the Second Amendment.

What is the Second Amendment about?

Well, let’s look at the ENTIRE amendment, not just one phrase taken out of context:

“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

The key phrase here is “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State”.

This tells us two things.  First, the purpose of the amendment is to help assure “the security of a free State”.  Scondly, that “A well regulated Militia” is one of the necessary elements of for a secure free State.  Only after that do we find the over-emphasized phrase “to keep and bear Arms”.

So the purpose of people having the right to have guns is linked to the security of the state THROUGH a militia.

Today, the state militia is the National Guard.

Granting that militia meant something different 240 years ago, the intent of the Founding Fathers is clear.  The States have the right to have an organized militia or para-military force that is armed and made up of part-time soldiers.  Note the “well regulated” phrase.  This means that a group of individuals simply cannot call themselves a militia and start stockpiling
weapons.  They must fall under the control of the state.

Today, that covers police forces and the National Guard.

So, Mike H., are you a member of the National Guard?  A police force?  If you want to claim the right to carry any weapon of your choice, according to the Second Amendment, you should be….

Steve P.

July 24, 2012, 11:03 p.m.

The ALL CAPS POSTER is prima facie why gun control is needed.  Paranoid, offensive, and ranting—all impulse and little self control.  We’d all be safer if someone like this did not have access to firearms.

Jeff Boehlow

July 24, 2012, 11:07 p.m.

You can not buy a Massacre at the Gun shop! just as you can not buy Alcoholism at the Liquor store! these are social problems that wont end with a Constitutional Amendment, One does not Legislate “Justice” one becomes that and lives it out!

Mike H

July 24, 2012, 11:14 p.m.

@ Lee Stevens

The key phrase here is “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State”

A key phrase you clarly dont understand. In the 18th century lexicon the phrase “well-regulated” referred to an item being in proper working order. An item that was “well-regulated” was calibrated, functioning, maintained .. NOT controlled by the government.

Granting that militia meant something different 240 years ago, the intent of the Founding Fathers is clear.

Crystal clear .... thats why the 2nd amendment is in the “Bill of Rights” which are rights reserved for the individual.

So, Mike H., are you a member of the National Guard?  A police force?

And I am ... got any more red herrings because that one was DELICIOUS!

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” -George Mason

So even if I wasnt, it seems as if I still qualify.

Here’s the thing sweetie, if guns, especially those scary “assualt weapons” get you panties all up in a bunch, lobby to get the 2nd amendment repealed or amended .. stop pissing all over the constitution.

Jeff Boehlow

July 24, 2012, 11:28 p.m.

On and On and on and on

Did you read what i wrote?


July 24, 2012, 11:38 p.m.

@ Mike H
the only thing that is clear about the founding fathers intent is the right to bear arms did not apply to AK47s, grenade launchers, and all other inconceivable weapons…
Joe Public, nutballs, terrorists, or any other extremist should not have easy access to these weapons, regardless of the BS the NRA keeps shoveling you!

Steve P.

July 24, 2012, 11:46 p.m.

Ah, good old states rights, that is, pro-slavery, George Mason.  He would have first-hand knowledge about enslaving people.

Apparently the Bill of Rights was derived from the Virginia Declaration of Rights, of which Mason was the principal author.  The one mention of “arms” in that document is seems like it could be what the second amendment was to mean, since the language is similar; and it makes more sense:

XIII That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.

Seems if George Mason had gotten his whole statement into the constitution, we wouldn’t be having this argument today.  Maybe some theater-goers would still be alive.


July 25, 2012, 1:07 a.m.

Judging by stats obtained via researching Google it appears that the number one targets and victims of gun violence in white america are the white wives and their white children and their primary abusers are their white husband/fathers.
And it were the colonial white women who strenuously opposed that cowardly and murderous 2nd Amendment because they knew that the white wives and their children would be the number one targets and the number victims of those guns simply because the white man’s number one enemy has always been, and will always be, the white woman and their children.  In point of fact, the white male has attacked the white women and children for thousands of years because the women did not want to be these slaves called wives.


July 25, 2012, 1:12 a.m.

I find it amusing how both sides want to argue about what a bunch of white men were thinking 200 years ago. Like they know. Or are repeating what has been fed to them by propoganda machines to defend their position. But no one will answer a simple question. Why would it matter to anyone if weapons such as assault rifles/grenades/bombs became unavailable at your local gun shop or Walmart? How would that affect your life? I know it wouldn’t affect mine. Do you use it to feed or protect your family? Why do you need one? I don’t understand.

Brian H

July 25, 2012, 1:34 a.m.

Like it or not one reason we have gone 236 years without having a despot or self-appointed king in charge is because we’ve had the 2nd Amendment.

Europe on the other hand has been dealing with tyranny and despotism almost the whole of those 236 years.


July 25, 2012, 2:58 a.m.

Let’s wait a little longer until 2013 to see all kinds of privately owned weapons being taken from global streets not only in North-America and who is better than the brilliant Obama to convince violent minded guys all over the soon to become a more peaceful world.


July 25, 2012, 3:28 a.m.

And still, no one will tell me why they need an assault rifle. Maybe I should get one? Do I need one? Educate me on why I need an assault rifle. Maybe we should have elementary school children use that as the title of their first essay. That’ll educate them.

If we don’t ALL stop we are going to destroy ourselves.

Ed Jones

July 25, 2012, 5:57 a.m.

What a biased hatchet job.  I own several weapons of various flavors and guess what; I’m not psychotic and have never killed anything.  I resent some of the comments here implying that because I own guns I’m a simple slip away from committing homicide, that is simply absurd on it’s face.  It’s akin to sating that if you have a car and drink you are bound to go commit vehicular homicide.


July 25, 2012, 6:32 a.m.

I still don’t know what an assault rifle is used for. Mr. Jones, as a collector, perhaps you could be issued a Collector’s license.  It would probably increase the monetary value of the assault rifle if it was a “collector’s item”. But why would anyone else want one? Other than to destroy everything in their path? Someone, please tell me. I want to know. 

Lots of political rhetoric thrown around. But ask a simple question and no response.

Steve P.

July 25, 2012, 9:02 a.m.

Ececca:  “I find it amusing how both sides want to argue about what a bunch of white men were thinking 200 years ago.”

But that is the argument.  The gun-rights interpretation of this is, ‘I don’t need to need an assault rifle.  The second amendment guarantees my right to have one.’

I disagree with that interpretation, but the argument is relevant.

Alex Thomas

July 25, 2012, 9:22 a.m.

As the editor of an alternative news outlet that reaches close to a million people a month, I am absolutely appalled that ProPublica thinks so low of its readers that it puts together an ANTI gun list and calls it the best reporting on guns in America. I am now going to spend the time to expose each and every bs article they linked and then move on to expose their SOROS funding. Websites like this are working to destroy America from the inside

Peter de KAM

July 25, 2012, 9:33 a.m.

Uff da, for the people who are trying to interpret the Second Amendment - please refer to the latest Supreme Court ruling on the Amendment where they refer to it as an “INDIVIDUAL RIGHT”.  Excuse me, I just had to get that off my chest.

Call it what you want.  But, please let’s refer to it as a one of the fundamental governing precepts of our great nation—It is law, it has been subject to interpretation over the years and it does have a current interpretation that drives laws which drive regulated commerce. 

Ladies and Gentlemen - Let’s have a little bit of rational discourse.


July 25, 2012, 9:38 a.m.

Steve- People need medicines and we regulate that. People need fertilizer and other chemicals and that is regulated as well. I am not sure why people need assault rifles with or without regulation? And if it is a case of interpreting the constitution and what those men intended then give it to the courts. That is their job.


July 25, 2012, 10:11 a.m.

I’ll try (fail) to keep this brief, and I won’t be getting into a conversation here, because it’s obviously a hot-button issue.

First, I hate guns.  I think they’re horrible tools for any job.  They’re conspicuous in use (loud and smelly), difficult to use well, and you can’t know there’s something wrong with it until it’s too late, either someone’s dead that shouldn’t be or your attacker has gutted you.  I don’t own one.  I don’t want to own one.

That said, please keep in mind that the second amendment is NOT about home security, hunting, or foreign invaders.  It’s about the people protecting themselves from a corrupt and overreaching government.  It’s designed to prevent the sort of police abuse you hear every night on the news, Congress passing laws that oppress us, and so forth.

The alternative is to repeat to yourself “it will never happen here,” and rely on a police department that gets excited about a twenty minute response time and has no legal duty to save your life.  Ask the movie-goers how well-protected they felt as they died.

I’m NOT saying everybody should arm himself.  Go back to my second paragraph.  But when someone says that the country should ban weapons, they’re saying that either the government will never abuse its power or that it’s OK for them to do so.

But also consider that making guns illegal is worthless.  If you’re willing to kill everybody in a theater, are you really going to balk at buying your gun on the black market?  Killers are people who don’t care about consequences and presumably don’t care about the law.

In fact, I’d bet that not that many of US care about the law as the law, either.  I’m 90% sure that nobody has strangled me, stabbed me, or tried to ram me with a car has nothing to do with the fact that it might result in a prison term.  It has much more to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of people aren’t psychopaths and just think that killing people is bad.

Seriously, consider that a car is a multi-ton battering ram powered by the equivalent of about five sticks of dynamite.  Yet nobody suggests banning them, no matter how many bank robbers use getaway cars, families die because of a drunk driver, or some driver makes a boneheaded decision on the road that kills people.  Nobody’s even really afraid of them, even in cases where they should be.  You don’t need a license to buy one, and you don’t get more than a slap on the wrist if you’re caught driving without one.  In fact, it’s shocking when someone doesn’t precisely follow the traffic laws, even though there’s almost no enforcement (per potential violation) whatsoever.

Compare that to the damage and opportunities for damage provided by something like an assault rifle, and you’ll see that you’d be far better off worrying about your neighbor’s driving record.

(To be continued - 5000 character limit reached.  I told you I’d fail to keep it brief.)


July 25, 2012, 10:12 a.m.

Just looking at the article titles, I can see that it’s not worth reading—just the same old biased reporting we get from all of the mainstream media. There will be no insights here.


July 25, 2012, 10:12 a.m.

(Part 2, first part held in moderation, if you can’t see it)

Now, that’s “why gun control doesn’t work.”  That, and the detail that a mass murderer could also poison people, blow up a building, electrocute them, and so forth, with less work than acquiring a gun.

We still want to stop crime, and I hate the generic, “oh, don’t change things because I’m happy with the status quo” types, here’s what I’d recommend:

1.  Learn everything we can about this creep.  Back in the ‘90s, Prozac was a punchline, because every time some jerk unloaded a gun at his place of employment, turned out he was on Prozac.  We haven’t heard stories like that in a while, and I’m guessing it’s not because Prozac was reformulated to have 80% less psycho side-effects.

Of all the people who own potentially dangerous weapons, what’s different about this one guy?  If he’s been on any drugs, maybe we need to look closer at that.  If he was in a juvenile facility as a kid, maybe we need to look at how those places are run.  It reeks of eugenics, but if there’s a genetic difference, maybe we want to screen for it and watch over similar kids more carefully.

2.  Return to teaching morality.  We’ve had many years with a rejection of organized religion that I mostly support.  However, alongside this has been a deadening moral relativism in our culture.

Drugs are bad, unless you’re very rich or very poor.  Indiscriminate sex is bad unless you’re a celebrity.  Theft is bad unless you’re a bank.  Lying is bad unless you’re a politician.  We can’t argue that female mutilation in Africa is bad because we don’t understand what those backward natives live with.  Some people are bullies when they’re indiscriminately violent, some are heroes for “fighting back.”  Nothing’s right or wrong, merely legal or illegal in some jurisdictions and depending on how good your lawyer is.

All wrong, period.  We need to grow our backbones back (or something racier, if that’s your thing) and start taking moral stands and making sure that kids know that it’s unacceptable (at a bare minimum) to hurt people.  We need heroes that aren’t worse than our villains, and it’s not hard to be that person.

Basically, find the sociopaths and stop them from acting out their power fantasies before they have them.  Guaranteed, it’ll be a lot more effective than screaming that nobody will ever need a particular kind of gun or that guns should only ever be owned for hunting.

Steve P.

July 25, 2012, 10:13 a.m.

ececca:  “And if it is a case of interpreting the constitution and what those men intended then give it to the courts.”

Unfortunately (in my view), the courts have weighed in.  I don’t agree with their interpretation, but as pointed out by others here, they come down on the side of the “individual rights” ...  of people to amass arsenals, dye their hair red, and massacre innocent movie goers.

You and I have the right to arm ourselves with tactical assault weaponry, gird ourselves for battle, even though there is literally no legitimate purpose for doing so.  Under the current second amendment interpretation, no one has a right to raise any objection to people equipping themselves as commando forces.  The antidote to these crazy people is for me to arm myself similarly, and be ready always to shoot to kill. 

The kind of society envisioned by these folks is wild west movie stuff.

I’m with you—private gun ownership, if allowed at all, should be strictly regulated.  Not only that, manufacturers and sellers should bear some responsibility for the ultimate disposition of a weapon.


July 25, 2012, 10:22 a.m.

I accept that there are legal intricacies. And this debate will go on indefinitely. I just want to understand the position that we need assault rifles. Those who have posted here stating that they own guns, and believe that they NEED guns to protect themselves can’t tell me why anyone would need an assault rifle other than fear of being attacked and not being able to protect themselves and their loved ones against the enemy.  Where do they live that they need an assault rifle to protect themselves? And who is this “enemy” they refer to? I wonder if they also have fallout shelters? LOL Are they prepared for any other disastrous possibilities or is it just he fear of being attacked in their home. I say home because I assume they don’t take it everywhere they go. Sounds like a real psychological problem if you ask me.

T Gawronski

July 25, 2012, 10:33 a.m.

You left out the best summary of the history of gun ownership I ever read: Guns in America: Arms and the Man, The Economist, July 3, 1999.


July 25, 2012, 11:34 a.m.

I suspect the people at ProPublica very well knew what would happen when they hit the publish button on this one! Thanks! Fascinating comments!

Which compels me to add my own thoughts towards possible scenarios in the future - especially if our current growing economic disparity continues its present course towards the only logical outcome.

Roving bands of well-prepared, well armed NRA “militia” types will be raiding the garden plots and dwindling possessions of those of us who failed to join them in their arms race. After all, the less aggressive and defenseless are very easy pickings.

Steve P.

July 25, 2012, 12:14 p.m.

Here is the article mentioned by T. Gawronski:

This article, from The Atlantic Monthly, also has an interesting historical view of gun rights/control.

Back in the ‘60s Huey Newton and the Black Panthers decided to undertake armed resistance against the police, while Martin Luther Kind went the peace and public awareness route.  It’s quite clear in retrospect, which was the more effective way to fight an oppressive government.


July 25, 2012, 6:32 p.m.

I suspect the same people complaining about the article being biased would have been perfectly happy had it been biased in accordance with their own world view. You might have asked what the criteria was for choosing these particular articles, but no one actually did that. It was just a leap into the ‘biased!’ bs. I looked over the list again. I have not read any of the articles listed, but it seems to me these articles present undeniable FACTS. These are the statistics and the facts - like them or not, facts are not biased. Someone’s opinions or preferences or beliefs just don’t adequately outweigh the evidence.


July 25, 2012, 6:45 p.m.

Please bear with me here. This is what I believe our founders, in their efforts to write a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, were aware that there were many others in Europe and other nations who didn’t want the colonies/states to succeed in organizing/establishing a government here that wasn’t under the thumb of British or European rulers. Included in the Second Amendment was the words of a “Militia” that I believe was included so that there would be a “Civilian Militia” made up of citizens, with weapons, in any area. At that time the foundling US government had small to no armies, could least afford to support an army of any size, so then had to resort to all-volunteer civilian militia’s to protect the new republic. Only in this way could they amass an army large enough to fight off those who wished them to fail. Foreign governments sent troops from Britain, France, Spain to claim territory in the “New” world that these “Civilian Militia’s” had to convince them to leave or fight to retain the new republic’s territory.
In todays age we have armies and navies and air forces to protect our Republic from aggressors on our home lands, but large numbers of those are in foreign lands. How many are here to protect us? How fast could they respond to an attack? We have seen the results of attacks perpetrated by cowards who choose to attack the defenseless in places that are indefensible, meaning “No Guns Allowed”. IF? being the question here. If a foreign force or group of terrorists in large enough numbers chose to attack in our country, determined to do as much damage as possible to defenseless citizens, who’s going to stop them? Our military, the police, the “National Guard”? And how many minutes or hours would that take to happen? In the meantime, it could be possible that some of the “Civilian Militia” could respond quicker. There are millions of veterans, well-trained citizens, gun-collectors, making up the millions owning guns, even assault weapons, that are law-abiding, but are ready as a “Civilian Militia” to protect you and your family and our nation as needed.

Brian Brock

July 25, 2012, 6:46 p.m.

One left wing terrorist murders defenseless people in a somewhat random theater attack. Then several hundred thousand left wing terrorist demand that the government take away my right to effective self defense.

Steve P.

July 25, 2012, 7:06 p.m.

“One left wing terrorist”

With that kind of arsenal, I think he was just what the NRA is all about. 

Don’t deny your own.


July 26, 2012, 12:06 a.m.

George Beres:

This would be a good solution, but even if it were possible to do so in the US, black market guns and ammo would flood the US from gun manufacturers in other countries.  In other words, this would only work if every country outlawed gun manufacturing.


July 26, 2012, 1:05 a.m.

ececca: ” I just want to understand the position that we need assault rifles.”

You have 2 problems. First, the guns you are talking about are not assault rifles. That is a lie perpetrated by the gun control bigots. An assault rifle is a machine gun, like the military’s M-16. You squeeze the trigger, lots of bullets come out and you can spray them around. This nut in Colorado did not have an assault rifle. He had what’s called a semi-automatic or auto-reloading gun. When you squeeze the trigger, only one bullet comes out. You cannot spray bullets around in the same way. Please get your terminology right so that it looks a little like you understand the situation.

Second, who are you to question what another person needs or what another person buys? If a person is not breaking a law nor hurting anyone, leave the person alone and mind your own business. I’m sure you would be unhappy if someone questioned or tried to make you change what you do or buy, if you are not hurting anyone or breaking any laws. Please show others the same courtesy. In other words, live and let live. Millions of Americans own guns like this. Only a very few do crazy and murderous things with them. Try to keep things in perspective.

If some creep does break the law and/or hurt others, see to it that he or she is arrested and prosecuted. You cannot regulate everything into safety and perfection. All you can do is to regulate the country into a police state, and then your problems will be a lot worse. Accept the fact that others might have different views than you have and live with it. It’s called freedom and democracy. Please don’t try to make everyone else bow down to you.

j steiner

July 26, 2012, 8:25 a.m.

Re: Ececca
Why do I need an assault rifle? I don’t, I like them cuz they’re fun!  Of course, I don’t own a real assault rifle.  An assault rifle means that one pull of the trigger results in multiple bullets being discharged.  One trigger pull unloading one round is NOT an assault rifle, I don’t care if it’s packaged in an AK-47 platform, or a Daisy BB gun.  Liberals have changed the definition, because that’s what they do to get their way, logic is meaningless to them.  You oughta go to the range, rent a gun, see how good you are, try to improve, have fun, enjoy it!  I’m not going to shoot at anyone, I like target shooting.  Why do you have such a problem with that?  I won’t infringe on your right to never own a gun, don’t infringe on my right to own one.  Guns aren’t the PROBLEM, it’s evil in the hearts of men that is the problem!  And they will always figure out a way to make a weapon, if the government confiscates guns from good citizens.  Stop blaming inanimate objects of steel, it’s people that are the problem.. not all people either!  Geez, what’s so difficult to comprehend, it’s easy and plain common sense!!!!!?????

j steiner

July 26, 2012, 8:35 a.m.

Re: Steve P
Manufacturers and Distributors share some responsibility for how their products are disposed?  Are you serious?  Let’s apply that to vehicles, let’s apply it to swimming pool makers, let’s apply it to matchstick makers, etc, etc.  Somebody drowns, it’s the pool makers fault?  Somebody lights a fire that burns down a house, it’s matchstick makers fault?  Somebody shoots a child in the dark, it’s Ruger’s fault?  Get real, that’s the most ridiculous argument posted yet.  I’m sure by now you’re ready to take it back?  Kudos, thou art a reasonable man!


July 26, 2012, 9:57 a.m.

The problem is that you are trying to demonize every respectable, law-abiding gun owner in this somewhat suspect reporting of the your self stated, “Best Report.” Is is not the best, it is the worst, filled with opinion. You are living in a myopic bubble.

Eric Holder, doing Barry Setoro’s bidding,did in fact run guns into Mexico, this is a proven fact and your statement to the contrary shows your transparent round-table meeting tactics which fortunately for all lawful gun owners, is woefully skewed to more massive gun-control without a real substantial or coherent information: collect every lie into a lump, throw it against the wall and see what sticks.

In this case, nothing holds merit to the 2nd Amendment.

Steve P.

July 26, 2012, 10:17 a.m.

j steiner:

of course I will not take it back, your insults and bad analogies notwithstanding.

Steve P.

July 26, 2012, 10:21 a.m.

j steiner:  “Guns aren’t the PROBLEM, it’s evil in the hearts of men that is the problem!” 

Allowing them to arm themselves in full on battle mode doesn’t help.

Steve P.

July 26, 2012, 10:33 a.m.

yank:  “First, the guns you are talking about are not assault rifles. That is a lie perpetrated by the gun control bigots. An assault rifle is a machine gun, like the military’s M-16.”

You are allowed to make up your definitions.  And so we are talking about “assault weapons” and not “assault rifles”.  Fair point.

You can find a wikipedia article explaining the so called assault weapons ban of 1994, which I have excerpted below. 

The kind of rifle used in the Aurora massacre was an assault weapon by the definition of that law.  That law should be re-enacted.

“The federal assault weapons ban specifically prohibited 19 guns considered to be assault weapons. These were all semi-automatic firearms, meaning that they can eject spent shell casings and chamber the next bullet without human action, but (as opposed to automatic firearms) only one round is fired per pull of the trigger.  In addition to the 19 weapons specifically prohibited, the federal assault weapons ban also defined as a prohibited assault weapon any semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine and at least two of the following five items: a folding or telescopic stock, a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, a bayonet mount, and a flash suppressor or threaded barrel (a barrel that can accommodate a flash suppressor); or a grenade launcher. The act also defined as a prohibited assault weapon semi-automatic pistols that weighed more than 50 ounces when unloaded or included a barrel shroud, and barred the manufacture of magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds.”

Lee Stevens

July 26, 2012, 10:45 a.m.

Re: Mike H. & all other 2nd Amendment Hypersensitives

Sorry, I was away from my PC most of yesterday.

1)  On your being in the National Guard or a Police Force. - Awesome!  Thank you for your service and sacrifice.  Someone in your position has a reason for possesing military-style weapons and (presumably) the training to know how and when to use them, and the discipline to stick to your training.

2)  Your definition of well-regulated - As a historian, I am curious about that interpretation.  Could you please cite authoritative sources and examples?

3)  The right of the individual to posses firearms - True, but only in the context of the “well regulated militia” and it’s purpose of protecting a “free State.”  This directly implies that when such posession is NOT part of such a militia or that the militia is NOT protecting a “free State” that the right is no longer to be enjoyed.  This is why, for example, the Supreme Court, backed by gun rights enthusiasts have SUPPORTED denying convicted felons from owning firearms, even after having served their sentence.  The basis for this ability is that the State had determined that a felon’s possession of a firearm is NOT likely to protect it, but rather be harmful of it, hence it can be suspended.

Or do you support 2nd Amendment rights for convicted felons?

If you do, then we are finished with this conversation.  Your view is not one of thought and consideration, but rather of a religious-type fervor.  You cannot argue religious-type beliefs, and I do not try.

If you think that convicted felons should NOT be able to own guns, then you agree that the right to bear arms is a CONDITIONAL right, subordinate to the safety and security of the State.  Once that is conceded, then the State has the ability to restrict that right to those times, places, and persons who are not likely to threaten it (such as convicted felons).

4)  With all the temper tantrum noises the 2nd Amendment Absolutists are making about “You’re trying to take my guns away!”, I have not heard a single serious, well thought-out suggestion from any of them on how the tragedy in Aurora (and similar ones elsewhere) could have been prevented.

Please do not trot out the fantasy of “if more of the audience had been armed, he would have been gunned down right away!”  Ridiculous! 

So, what IS your solution?

One final note:  I do not wear panties.  I tend to wear boxer shorts, I find them more comfortable.  But please feel free to wear panties, if you choose.

Also while I appreciate the compliment of “sweetie”, I would prefer not to become that intimate with you.  I have many gay friends, but I do not swing that way.  You should be happy to hear that I did support the removal of all restrictions for gays and lesbians serving our county.  If you are a member of the Guard, I hope this has helped you feel more at ease in your service.  :-)

I have been enjoying our debate, but I think we should keep our comments on topic and not devolve down to attempts at the lower end of the humor scale.  It demeans what is otherwise an important and vital public discussion into a school-yard “Are to!  Are not!” squable.

Lee Stevens

July 26, 2012, 10:49 a.m.

I did not have enough room in my comment above to explain why I think having more people armed in the theater would have stopped the gunman.  Here is my reasoning:

Let’s say four people in the theater had been carrying a concealed weapon - a pistol of some sort.  They are scattered throughout the stadium seating in the theater.  It is dark, with a bright-lit screen down at the bottom.  Ominous music is playing and the audience
is anticipating explosions, surprises, and loud, sudden noises from the screen any moment.  Suddenly a series of flashes and loud POPs start coming from down in front, highlighting a dark figure in an almost ancient movie style.  Quick!  How long before you determine what is happening?  Two-three seconds?  Now you decide it is real gunfire. 

Do you know that without extensive training, the majority of a platoon caught in a night-time fire-fight NEVER EVEN FIRE THEIR WEAPONS?

But let’s say you, despite never having had training, much less constant training, have the presence of mind to begin to pull out your weapon.  Wait!  Did you fall on the floor first?  What about the people with you?  Are you going to get them down, hopefully out of the way of the shots, first?

But let’s pretend for a moment that you went to the movie by yourself, so you do not have to worry about friends and loved ones.  Do you crouch behind the seat in front of you, to present a lower target? 
Maybe, but then your sight will probably be blocked by running people.  Do you stand, presenting a better target, but maybe being able to see better?  Let’s say you do that.  You draw out your weapon…oh - if you are a woman, it was probably in your purse - which has probably been knocked down and kicked away by everyone panicking, but we will pretend you have found it.  If you are a man, we will assume that you have practiced unsnapping or pulling off the velcro strap that secures your weapon to it’s holster - you do keep it strapped in, don’t you?  Otherwise you risk it falling out.

Now you raise your weapon.  In the meantime, three other people have done the same…and started firing.  You are at the back top of the theater.  You have four sets of gun flashes going off, the gunshots echoing all around the room, the music from the movie is still playing, people are screaming.  Quick!  Which is your target?  Do you risk hitting an innocent person who is simply trying to get out of the way or is panicking and trying to run out of the theater?

What DO you do?

This is a nightmare scenario for the best SpecOps or HRT-type trained operative.  It is an unimagined hell for the poor people who went out expecting to have a good time, and have never served a day in the police or military in their lives.  Maybe they have the weapon because…I don’t know.  It makes them feel powerful?  Someone deluded them that it makes them safer?

What I think would happen is that even more people would be hit, a lot of them “blue-on-blue”, and there would be a good chance that the original gunman would get away.  But that would not stop the shooting.  The armed “defenders” would continue shooting - at each other.

So do not tell me that more people carrying weapons would have stopped this.

So, anti-gun-control advocates, what IS your solution?

Steve P.

July 26, 2012, 12:31 p.m.

Lee Stevens:  “...why I think having more people armed in the theater would have stopped the gunman.”

Unless I’m missing something, I think you meant, “... would NOT have…”

Excellent analysis nevertheless.  I thought the same thing:  once the shooting started, the ensuing chaos would have made getting off a clean shot at the attacker nearly impossible.

Maybe if every person in the audience had a concealed weapon, and each was trained to use it in such a situation, fewer people would have been shot by the attacker.  Squeezing off a bullet every second, though, he still would have done considerable damage.

Lee Stevens

July 26, 2012, 2:21 p.m.

Steve P.  - You are right.  I did mean “would NOT have stopped the gunman.”

Thanks for catching the error!

And I agree with your corollary -  even if most of the people were armed AND trained, he still would have been able to shoot an awful lot of people.

One reasonable constraint could simply be restricting the size of clips to five rounds.  For hunting and self-defense, you really do NOT need more.  And the time it would have taken for the gunman to change clips (something REALLY hard to do in the dark with people screaming and running, much less when wearing a gas mask…unless you are extensively TRAINED) would allow people to escape or even overwhelm the attacker.


July 26, 2012, 2:39 p.m.


The reserve militia or unorganized militia, also created by the Militia Act of 1903 which presently consist of every able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who are not members of the National Guard or Naval Militia.(that is, anyone who would be eligible for a draft). Former members of the armed forces up to age 65 are also considered part of the “unorganized militia” per Sec 313 Title 32 of the US Code.

This means we are all militia and therefore get assault weapons.

Steve P.

July 26, 2012, 3:57 p.m.

Seth:  This means we are all militia and therefore get assault weapons.

I think your conclusion is not quite accurate. 

The militia referred to in that Act is the National Guard.  It authorized the US government to call you to service. 

USC Title 32 is “National Guard”.  Section 313 describes age criteria for eligibility for enlistment to the Guard.

Your assault weapon will be issued to you by the government, and you will only use it under direct supervision.  Have fun in the desert.

Mike H

July 26, 2012, 4:24 p.m.

1.  The beauty is, even if I wasn’t an LEO or military, its my right to own a weapon … any weapon I want. That’s the law. You don’t like that, I get it, but tough beans.

2.  UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh as well as dozens of other legal and historical scholars have made this point. Do your own homework. Its preposterous to think that of all the amendments in the bill of rights, only one of them is a collective right and not an individual right.

3.  Nearly every right, like voting, is conditional, that’s a very poor argument.

As for your red-herring of an armed patron not being able to stop the shooter, the liability in that situation is on the CCW holder to use his judgment because the legal and civil responsibility is on him/her. If you don’t think you can respond in that situation, then don’t, just because you have a CCW doesn’t obligate you to act defensively. Maybe a CCW holder could have stopped Holmes with one well placed shot, maybe he would have made the situation worse. It all depends on training and the judgment of the CCW holder to act within the limits of his/her capabilities. There are 100,000’s of CCW holders and as a group they are a very responsible demographic.

An ban on “assault weapons”, whatever those may be, would have done nothing to stop this shooting. Holmes was also armed with a shotgun and could have a similar amount of damage with it then his AR.

Rampages like the one in Aurora are the tradeoff for the right to keep and bear arms. If the population feels like the cost for having this right is too high, then they should lobby to amend the 2nd Amendment, not, as you are advocating for, piss all over the Constitution because is easier.

And just a side note, you referred to “clip” I don’t know a single Marine who uses the term “clip” and “magazine” interchangeably (do I smell a Moby?). Anyone with even the most rudimentary training as well as repetition should be able to change a “magazine”, or clear a misfeed for that matter, blindfolded.

Steve P.

July 26, 2012, 5:17 p.m.

Mike H:  “Rampages like the one in Aurora are the tradeoff for the right to keep and bear arms.”

Exactly.  You’re OK with slaughter and I am not.  I appreciate your candor.

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