Last week, a reader named Amy left a comment on the Protecting Your Family post that said:
“I used to think the same way as you with regard to this thought: “I definitely want you to be able to keep your guns, but….”
But you know what, now I do want to take your guns away. Why do you need them? I want to take them all away. I live each day with a pit in my stomach as I send my young children to school. Why do we have to live like this? Maybe we should start having an honest conversation about wanting to take ALL THE GUNS AWAY!!!!!!!”
And I replied with this comment:
“Maybe it’s just in the air right now, but I’ve been hearing a lot of that. One thought that occurred to me yesterday is this: A majority of American citizens have been asking, demanding, begging for improvements to our gun safety laws for a long time. The asks have been reasonable and accommodating. The asks have been small changes and simple fixes — like closing the gun show loopholes, or universal background checks. That same majority of Americans who want better gun regulations have listened to opposing views and acknowledged how unique and important our constitutional amendments are. But still, despite the patience, and small asks, and focus on common sense, and wide bi-partisan support for change, no action has been taken.
Have people reached the point where the majority of Americans are no longer willing to be accommodating about this? Are people feeling like: Hey, we tried to do this in small ways that wouldn’t freak you out, but you wouldn’t compromise even an inch. And now we’re done talking about small ways. We want all guns gone. Our patience is officially exhausted. You had your chance, but you weren’t willing to work with us, and now you’re going to lose your gun privileges.
I don’t know if that’s really how people are feeling right now, but if it is, I get it. And like I said, I’ve been seeing lots of comments similar to yours in the last few days.”
Turns out “seeing lots of comments like that” was understating it.
My social feeds were absolutely overflowing with calls for outright gun bans. And the biggest shock is that the calls were coming from lifelong gun-rights supporters.
I was honestly a bit stunned at the bold demands and am so curious to know if you were seeing the same thing. I’m becoming convinced some sort of tipping point has been reached on the gun situation in our country. This is a quote I read from a friend in Michigan. He’s a middle-aged white man; a lawyer who I’ve always known to be pro-gun rights, and who lives in a county where there are a lot of hunters, so he’s surrounded by gun-owning friends, co-workers and family members:
“Until now, we were never coming for your guns. Those of us who have no real interest in guns simply wanted commonsense regulations. But now, we are coming for your guns. And we’re going to use our vote to take them.”
And I read a ton of conversations over the weekend from friends who have had a similar change in stance. I confess, I didn’t really participate in the conversations. I just read. As I said, I was surprised by all the bold calls for gun bans I was seeing, and wanted to read what gun owners said in response. There was a lot of good stuff. I collected bits and pieces from several of these conversations, and edited them together to create one conversation, and I’m presenting it here so we can discuss.
As I said, these are not my words. So as you read, picture someone else. Picture one of your friends who doesn’t own guns, but grew up around guns and isn’t bothered by them. Picture someone who has always defended the rights of their friends to own guns, but who is no longer willing to do that.
You want a full ban on guns? That’s impossible. It could never happen here.
I have never thought it was possible either. Do you remember the 90’s? At that time, no one could imagine we would have openly gay teachers in our schools. Or that gay marriage would be legal. People predicted it would take several generations for anything like that to happen. But that wasn’t the case (thankfully!).
So many times, the things we thought could never happen did. If gun advocates continue to respond to these tragedies with the answer, “do nothing,” then I would not be surprised if in a very short time, guns are seen differently than they are today, and making them all illegal becomes a possibility. The NRA is strong, but even the NRA can not spin these massacres and buy-off enough politicians, when we’re dealing with an endless pile of dead children.
People think guns will never be taken away. But there is a tipping point and I think we’ve reached it. The time for half measures is long gone. And now guns will be banned.
Making heroin and meth illegal hasn’t worked, why would it work with guns?
That feels like a silly talking point. Are guns addictive? Can high-speed, high capacity assault rifles be grown in backyards and fields like drugs? With no high level machining, manufacturing knowledge, and capital?
Comparing guns and drugs doesn’t work. It seems like this kind of “logic” is why gun owners have lost the high ground. We know that guns can be eradicated, because it’s been done before. Many countries have drastically reduced the amount of guns in the possession of both citizens and criminals, bringing death rates from gun violence to almost nothing.
But it would take strict laws and time. Perhaps five to ten years. And then we would rarely if ever see piles of dead kids. So for me, even though I’ve always been pro-gun rights, I would support a full ban at this point. Personally, I believe it is actually inevitable.
It’s a question of time and a few more thousand children being killed, because gun owners refuse to step up and do the simplest things.
If there was a gun ban, only law-abiding citizens would obey. Criminals would hoard guns and ammunition.
I agree it will take some time to get the illegal guns out of play. But that is just a question of time. In the meantime, gun deaths will be drastically reduced. And only a national ban would have an impact in a country like this one, where everyone can travel anywhere.
Why would we deny the rights of 99% of law-abiding gun owners because 1% are bad guys? I am a responsible gun owner.
Is it the 1% who are the bad guys? Gun owners in this country refuse to allow, or fight for, even the simplest most obvious regulations. Just because someone doesn’t pull the trigger doesn’t make them blameless.
And I think we have to ask: What is a responsible gun owner? It’s a term gun owners like to throw around, but it’s ultimately meaningless. I wish we would define it and then legally make that definition the minimum.
Is the father of two who keeps a gun under the driver’s seat a responsible gun owner? Is the grandmother who sleeps with a gun under her pillow, and also gets unexpected visits from the grandkids from time to time, a responsible gun owner? If your guns are stored with the ammunition, are you a responsible gun owner? If their kids know the code to the gun safe, are they responsible gun owners? If he’s never had gun training is he a responsible gun owner? If your kid shoots a neighbor kid with your gun, then should you as the “responsible gun owner” go to jail? If your gun is stolen because you didn’t store it safely, are you as the “responsible gun owner” at fault for any crimes committed with the stolen gun?
It’s not useful to claim you’re a responsible gun owner unless that term is defined and people are required to conform to it.
If small regulations haven’t passed, why would a full ban pass?
Good question. Gun owners have had their chance — over and over again for many, many years — to embrace simple regulations that would curb gun violence and protect our children. Instead they’ve elected officials — both democrats and republicans — who are bought by the NRA. Politicians like Trump who eliminate regulations designed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
No one thinks mentally ill people and criminals should be able to have a gun. But right now, there is literally nothing in place to stop it because of the gun show and private sale loophole, and the lack of any resources to make the national database useful.
Instead of embracing real change, gun owners have proposed ridiculous ideas like minimum wage armed guards at every school entrance, and laws to force teachers to be armed.
It is up to responsible gun owners to stand up to the NRA and get the most obvious stuff accomplished. But they haven’t done it. Unless gun owners start taking solutions seriously then people like me are simply going to say fine, it’s over, no more guns. So while I have always supported the right to own guns even though I have no interest in them, my support is hereby withdrawn.
The time for half measures has passed. A full ban is inevitable. There are other ways to interpret the second amendment. It can be argued that activist courts tortured the plain ‘militia’ language of the amendment into some basic human right. That interpretation could be trumped by a constitutional amendment banning guns.
You keep talking about simple regulations. Like what? What are you talking about? What laws would prevent gun violence?
No solution will be perfect, and one idea does not necessarily preclude another. We can try many different things. Here are 12 smart regulations I’ve seen suggested. None have been taken seriously or advocated for by gun owners. (There are dozens and dozens more on this thread.)
– A true national background check for all gun sales with a fully funded complete database.
– Taking a harder look at who has the ‘right’ to own a gun.
– Defining what responsible gun ownership looks like. Are there mandates there?
– Making gun owners responsible for whatever happens with their gun.
– Making high-capacity weapons illegal.
– Requiring a mandatory 2-month waiting period.
– Requiring fire arm insurance.
– Requiring firearm registration.
– Requiring annual mental health checkups for gun owners.
– Banning bump stocks.
– A lifetime ban from any gun ownership for domestic violence convictions (which funding to enforce). If you are being investigated for any domestic violence crime you lose all guns until it has been settled.
– Allow the CDC to study firearms as a matter of public health.
Gun owners need to step up and more vigorously support the debate and the solutions. Gun owners are in the best position to separate themselves from the NRA baloney. And should be leading the front line of solutions, rather than repeating the old clichés and baseless statistics.
Gun owners, after all, have the most to lose — excepting victims, all the families of those killed, and the communities trampled by these events of course.
More laws won’t work. There are already gun laws.
Where are you going with this? I mean, since laws are totally ineffective, we might as well pass one, right? The reality is there are no meaningful gun laws. It’s a charade. There are no meaningful background checks. You don’t have to have any background checks to buy from private sellers or from gun shows. The loopholes completely undermine the gun laws that exist. There is no funding to keep the databases complete. There is no process which allows checks to occur.
That’s all on gun owners. There is no such thing as a responsible gun owner, because it is undefined. And there are no laws mandating it.
The NRA and gun manufacturers would never let a ban happen.
Surely you can see the NRA is the worst advocate of gun owners. These kids who are seeing their classmates being slaughtered are going to grow up and vote and push much, much stronger gun laws than the modest changes that have been suggested for years. Modest changes which the NRA refuses to agree to in any way.
Gun manufacturers love these shootings. As does the NRA. They make tens of millions more every time massacres occur.
The truth is no one was ever coming for your guns. But that is probably changing now that gun owners have offered up nothing but bullsh*t in the face of dead children. It’s just a question of time before voters (including many gun owners) do come for your guns. But you can believe otherwise. Support the NRA. Oppose all gun regulations of any kind. The more people defend the current framework, the quicker we get to the tipping point which I believe is coming (or has already arrived). And sooner than you think.
I have lots of friends who hunt. But I figure they lost their chance to be responsible, to define responsible and to regulate responsible. The NRA sold your rights down the drain with a lot of propaganda and fear mongering that any regulation was going to result in taking all the guns. You should have stepped up much earlier.
Now, the days of gun ownership are numbered. We are going to vote to take your guns. All of them. Gun owners just don’t know it yet because they are swimming in the cesspool of NRA bullsh*t.
And since gun owners and the NRA have literally no other solutions that don’t sound idiotic to normal people (like armed minimum wage security guards at every door at every school), then I have no sympathy for what is coming some day soon, and probably sooner than those in the NRA bubble expect.
The NRA is not defending your gun rights. They are undermining them.
Guns aren’t the problem. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
It is pure fantasy and utterly baseless to argue that the prevalence of ever-cheaper, ever-faster and more effective high capacity weapons don’t play a big role in the gun problem. Just like if we allowed flame-throwers and chemical weapons to be widely sold to the public for a relatively low price, we’d have more problems with burning and gassing killings. (Duh.)
But what about other bad/hard things happening in our country? Last year, we had more than 63,000 deaths from opioid overdoses in the U.S.. More people die from automobiles, alcohol, drugs, cancer, non gun violent crimes, etc.. I don’t see you trying to ban all of those.
I always love these circular arguments of “what about ..” This is exactly why I support a ban. Of course we can’t solve this when there is no logic or intellectual component to the debate. So there is only one possible solution: take all the guns. I’m pretty much done listening to endless excuses for “sh*t happens.”
But what about a corrupt government? As soon as you remove guns, you remove every single protection we have from a corrupt government taking everything from us.
Sorry. Your gun isn’t big enough, even combined with all the other ones, to protect yourself from our military. Plus, it is a silly argument pushed by NRA bumper stickers. You have your vote. If you don’t like the way our democracy works, then that’s unfortunate. But rising up against the government, like is proposed by so many marginalized crack-pot militia groups and white supremacist groups, is an illusion. Of all the different really thoughtless arguments, this one always makes me laugh the hardest. And it’s time we stopped pretending it’s a legitimate argument.
Attempting to acknowledge “both sides” when one side has a crackpot argument is dangerous to our country.
It’s not guns. Our society is totally immoral. In the last twenty or so years a lot has changed. But guns have not. So the only variable that has changed is our culture and societal views/norms. We no longer value human life, there is violence in music and movies…
I’m old enough to remember when switchblade knives, zipguns and 6 shooters were the dangerous weapons of choice. Tools matter. And we’ve allowed ever-cheaper, ever-better, ever-faster, ever-higher capacity guns to be readily available.
It is a complete fiction to argue that “nothing has changed except society.” Actually, the widespread availability of cheap, effective, high speed, high capacity weapons mass marketed to the general public is a new thing since the mid-1980’s. Neither criminals nor the police had these high-capacity weapons readily available in the 1970’s-1980’s. And as you would expect, the rise of these mass shootings correlates with the mass marketing phenomena.
Meanwhile, society and culture has improved with dramatically less violence. Except for mass shootings, which are the direct result of mass marketing the tools for that type of crime.
Obviously, evil, hate, insanity and other bad things are factors too. Of course they are. But those things exist in every country inhabited by people. The variable is that we have quite recently (in the last 25-30 years) allowed a mass marketing of tools that essentially every other country has outlawed. We bear the consequences of that mass marketing decision.
And by the way our movies and music are all consumed voraciously in other countries that do not have mass shootings.
Guns have always been available. Machine guns have been available since before the 1950s. But mass shootings are increasing. That’s proof society is more evil now.
Every country with humans in it has anger, hate, evil and crazy people. The reason we have wildly higher levels of gun violence is our widespread gun culture and wide availability of assault weapons. Not because Americans are uniquely evil, angry, hateful or mentally ill. Those problems exist everywhere.
You’re being insincere if you argue that because machine guns “existed” by the first half of the 20th century that their “existence” is the same thing as “cheap and readily available to a mass market.”
Cheap, high speed, high capacity weaponry marketed to the general populace is a new thing in my lifetime,. Neither the police or general populace were carrying these types of weapons in the 1970’s and 1980’s; that trend really started in the 1990’s and took off thereafter.
The mass shooting trend in the U.S, absolutely tracks the trend of the mass marketing of these gun products.
New gun laws won’t really help. Criminals will still get their hands on guns. We need to arm more people. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
Let’s stop pretending that things are great and no changes are needed or possible! And that a separate “criminal or insane” class of people (who somehow don’t exist in other countries, for some reason) commit all these terrible crimes in the U.S.!
I think the day of gun owners saying nothing will completely fix the problems, so let’s simply allow the slaughter of our children, is over. We’re done listening to gun owners repeat bumper sticker slogans propagated by the NRA instead of demanding common sense action.
My belief is that it is just a question of time before there are enough votes for a constitutional amendment eliminating guns. I think gun owners are too blind to see it coming.
We were not coming for your guns. But at this point many of us are. And we are going to take them with our votes.
Maybe as a gun owner you can get your act together fast, ditch the NRA, and make all gun sales go through a background check, fully fund all government agencies to ensure the database is complete, enact laws which make gun owners 100% responsible for what happens with their gun, and other obvious things most gun owners support. But I think it’s too late for these smaller reforms.
How would a gun ban even work?
As a lawyer, my take is there are at least two possible routes. Neither of them easy. Constitutional Amendment, or Court Ruling acknowledging that the word ‘militia’ is limiting and does not grant the broad rights now claimed.
I think the amendment is not as out of reach as many think, if enough pieces fall in place such as:
– Endless continued massacres — especially of children, when ‘do nothing’ is the only thing offered by the gun lobby, and gun owners don’t work to make those regulations that are supported by a majority of Americans happen.
– A reversal legislatively or otherwise of Citizens United, and legislation largely neutering all lobbyists such as the NRA, who buy off politicians of both parties.
– A backlash of bumper sticker level response to all American’s problems, and movement towards a ‘we can’ from current ‘do nothing’ approach to policy.
– The inevitable pendulum swing.
– The continued technological advances in security and crime prevention.
– A big bang event.
It’s amazing to look at the absolutely unbelievable things that have happened in the last 20 years, things no one could have predicted or expected. Civil rights. Gay rights. New technology. A black president. Innovation. The thought that giving things away for free would somehow become the function of much of capitalism (as occurred and continues to occur on the internet, including on this blog), would have seemed stupid and socialistic.
I think people assume that guns are here to stay forever. And they will wake up one day and freak out and wonder what happened.
What happened is gun owners failed to take any responsibility for safety and reason. Instead, they wrapped themselves in stupid slogans and a ‘do nothing’ approach. Once you start slaughtering what will eventually be thousands of kids, which is inevitable given the current lack of any reasonable regulations over guns, rational people realize that the impossible is indeed likely.
I could be wrong. But I predict America will simply remove guns from society like so many other civilized countries have successfully done. And gun owners will have no one to blame but themselves. They have followed the NRA right off the cliff.
Here’s the thing. Those of us without a horse in the race are pretty fed up with the weak excuses against the most basic regulations. And we are growing in number. And we know one solution that will absolutely reduce gun violence: A complete gun ban.
So if gun owners can’t come up with something, and they continue to legitimize the NRA, then don’t be surprised when the right to bear arms is lost all together. Stranger things have happened in my lifetime, and yours.
And those of us who don’t have any use for guns will have no sympathy when you lose them. (We’ll be sure to send thoughts and prayers.)
I hope that wasn’t too confusing to read — because I edited these together from several different conversations, I know it may feel choppy.
Like I mentioned, I was surprised by the bold calls for outright gun bans. But I admit, I found the conversations really resonated with me. I suppose I’m going through the same viewpoint switch. Though I’ve never seriously considered a ban — perhaps because I spent my childhood and teen years around hunters who I respect. Or perhaps I just didn’t think a ban was possible in our country. But after thinking about it for a few days, I’ve come to agree a ban is likely. As dramatic as it sounds, I don’t know if a ban can be stopped at this point.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you see any conversations like these in the last few days? Have you felt a change in your viewpoint on guns since the long discussion we had in October? If you’re a gun owner, does this conversation stress you out? Or are you sort of “meh” about the guns you own and could easily give them up? What do you think of the idea of responsible gun ownership? How would you define it? And would you be supportive if it was made a law?
P.S. — Though I took pieces from several conversations, most came from the comment thread on this Facebook post.