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Lawmakers sabotage a bipartisan push to improve gun safety

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Tom Meadowcroft

Many commenters seem to believe that the gun rights movement is largely driven by gun manufacturers or the NRA. The truth of the matter is that gun owners are a large, visible minority who vote and care a great deal about gun legislation. The NRA and gun manufacturers are small fry compared to the big lobbying organizations in Washington with respect to donations to campaign funds. Legislators avoid gun laws because they are afraid of gun owners voting against them. The resistance to gun laws reflects the democratic political force of gun owners, not some Big Gun conspiracy or political corruption. I know many individuals who are strongly opposed to more gun regulation.

Eldred Knowles

I cannot believe what I am reading (assuming the information is accurate). Who in their right minds can believe that increasing the number of tools designed to injure/kill will reduce the number of traumatic incidents related to said tools?


In Baltimore City alone, there have been over 1000 shootings, and over 300 deaths this year so far. A unique case, but troubling nonetheless.


Quite absolutely, violence leads to more violence. And those who wish to arrive at ends of a society embodying the ideal postulates of freedom, peace, and rationally responsible adults, needs to employ means which do not compromise those tenets. We must employ peaceful, non-violent means to arrive at a future with fewer violent acts.






I often think the Economist goes too far off into the cloud cuckoo land, this time I think you’re just not being clear.

Try this.

A handgun is designed, built and made for the express purpose of killing people. There is no other use. It is a human to human weapon. There is no legitimate reason for private citizens to own a handgun. None.

Assault rifles. The AR-15 (M16) and various derivates are the best selling assault rifle in the United States. There is a universe of other makes readily available. The number and various types of assault rifle available to Americans is huge.
These weapons are designed, built and manufactured for the express purpose of killing people. They are not designed and built for hunting animals. They are designed to kill people in a human to human conflict situation. There is no legitimate reason for private citizens to own one of these assault weapons. None.

There is no excuse. There is no justification.

The carnage in Vegas and the steady trickle of people shooting each other by accident (all too often small children) and intent is a direct consequence of the conscious decision taken by the majority of American citizens to allow this. Every vote by an NRA member, every membership of the NRA taken and paid for contributes to this slaughter of innocent and not-so-innocent life.

You can get into arguments around semi-automatic shotguns (eg., the Remington 1100) used for skeet and duck hunting and semi-automatic rifles (eg., Browning Automatic Rifle, the BAR range) but an AR-15 with combat sights, a combat stock, combat 30 round magazine is built for an entirely different purpose.

Continuing to allow the sale of these weapons to private citizens means the death of large numbers of people.

Banning the sale of these weapons and collection of those outstanding will stop the slaughter and save thousands of lives in the course of the next ten years.

guest-aaiemaea in reply to martin8888

The Economist is practical. It's interested in laws that might, just might, possibly get passed. It's not, on the whole, interested in pipe dreams that are nowhere near reality.
This article discusses one law that did have a reasonable chance of being passed on its merits, and describes how it's been effectively sabotaged.
Calling for another law, one that hasn't even been proposed because everybody knows it would go nowhere - might make some people feel better, but it's not really constructive because it's not within the bounds of things that might actually happen. It's like calling for universal (i.e. worldwide) free food for everyone: sounds like a nice idea, but without a roadmap of how to get from here to there, it's meaningless.


Alas for the days when the National Rifle Association was a group of hunters (i.e. people who use rifles). And staunchly pro-gun control.
Yes, there was a time before it became strictly a gun manufacturers' lobbying organization, devoted entirely to keeping sales up.

Stan the man

Apologies for the vagueness of the insult. I did not mean to insult red states specifically with regard to their gun laws.
I meant to insult their general level of education and culture which leads to this need to own a gun and carry it with them, unlike any developed world culture elsewhere on the planet.
The best lesson for the deplorables to look at once they figure out where it is on a map, is Australia.


This article has serious errors, the bill does not allow someone to drive from a State where permits are not required to a State where permits are required - they would still need a permit which is why 11 of those 12 States issue them voluntarily. Also it's completely false to say that those States have no power to deny permits to dangerous people, typically the State checks III and NCIC before issuing a permit and there are legal bars.


There are three ways to think of guns as an American:
1) guns are bad
2) guns are a tool
3) Those NRA ads are scary!


I live in Texas. Cases of self defense with a gun are very common. They are not always reported by the media, particularly the national media. A few days ago, a gunman entered a nearby restaurant and threatened the patrons with a gun, including one patron's daughters. The father pulled his legal concealed carry pistol and killed the deranged nitwit with one shot. End of story. Justice served.
When I applied for my concealed carry permit, they completed an exhaustive FBI background check. So, I'm not sure what TE is referring to, but concealed carry permit holders receive not only a background check, but, in Texas, a range test where they must demonstrate proficiency in the use of their firearm. I would rather be sitting in a restaurant where all the patrons were legally armed than in a San Francisco bistro where nobody is armed and it is a sanctuary city for criminal illegals.
The reality is that the real danger to our civilization is not from gun owners anymore than it is for car owners or knife owners. The real danger is from left wing idiots who want some ethereal big government to come save them. Left wing, liberal sociopathic, morons want Mommy and Daddy to protect them for the rest of their lives. They do not want to take responsibility for anything: Not their education, not their medical care, not their safety, not their job, not their immorality. Everything wrong is someones else's fault. Everything that goes well is because of their unique genius and superiority. This is why psychiatrist, Dr. Lyle Rossiter, classifies liberalism as a mental disorder. Any similarity between liberal thinking and logical analysis is an illusion.
So why indulge these deranged leftists with laws that do no good? Why even try? It's like my Dad always said, "You can't teach a pig to sing, you only waste your time and frustrate the pig."

guest-aaiemaea in reply to guest-ajalease

That particular story is well reported in the media, so it doesn't exactly support your claim that the stories are not well covered. See here for national (and international) coverage. And the great thing about America is that you Texans can decide for yourselves how your restaurants should be regulated, while allowing San Franciscans to decide the same for themselves.
Meanwhile, the murder rates in Texas and California are - about the same. Which doesn't lend much help to either side in this debate.
The reality is that the real danger to our civilization is from idiots who believe that their political opponents are insane or wicked, and incapable of reasoning or arguing in good faith. Anyone who believes that should just recuse themselves from politics entirely, because they are incapable of doing anything constructive or good.

Noijmiw in reply to guest-ajalease

Just adding a warning comment (to the readers) whenever I see you spew you're so-many-times debunked bullshit again: the Dr. Lyle Rossiter he refers to is not at all recognized or supported by the scientific community (is anyone really surprised?) and guest-ajalease has the well-

Noijmiw in reply to guest-ajalease

Just a warning comment to the scientifically minded reader about guest-ajalease's so-many-times debunked bullshit: the Dr. Lyle Rossiter he refers too is not at all recognized by the scientific community and his theories have been debunked quite a lot of times on here when this commenter brings him up (anyone really surprised?). Furthermore, as you can easily see from his posts, guest-ajalease isn't the brightest lad around and can't comprehend how anyone can have ideas different from his own without it being a disease. To debate at your own risk: do NOT expect guest-ajalease to ensure his arguments respect the scientific method or logic laws, or to base his arguments on objective verifiable sources. Even with insistence. Science, objectivity and rationality just aren't in this guy's book.

humbleopinion in reply to guest-ajalease

Unions, medicare, medicaid, unemployment insurance are/were "deranged leftist" concepts, according to their critics when they were first proposed. As for taking responsibility for one's actions, there is a deranged orange monster in the White House who provides a great example of someone who cannot.

Robert Lepp

Hey, Economist, let me ask a simple question.
You say that "between 2000 and 2013 armed civilians stopped only 3% of active shooting incidents."
So, what's the percentage of lawful concealed carry permit holders who led active shooting incidents?
Because if you want to take a look down in Texas, sweet Texas, legal gun owners have a murder rate less than half of that of the famously gun-controlled UK.
And concealed carry permit owners, from a study from the Crime Research Prevention Center, are not only more law-abiding than the general public by a vast margin, but more law abiding than actual police officers.
So, remembering that 98% of mass shootings happen in gun free zones, and noting your own statistic that 3% of mass shooters are stopped by an armed, law-abiding citizen, despite the fact that only 4.8% of Americans own a concealed carry permit and not all of those are going to be carrying at any even time, please do explain how making it easier for extremely law-abiding citizens, with well under half the crime rate of the United Kingdom, who stop a percentage of mass shootings over two-thirds of their own percentage, to more easily carry to defend themselves and others is somehow a travesty.

guest-lmjsmij in reply to Robert Lepp

Because there would be less mass shootings to defend themselves from if there were less guns...?

Where didi you get that statistic from? Also be careful when you use statistics - it's better to go into more detail because of question such as what counts as what type of offence (ie. civil vs. criminal) or how well recorded are crimes...

evidencematters in reply to Robert Lepp

Your sources of stats don't make any sense. Your argument thus seems to be based on only about 1 million "(legal) gun owners in the whole of Texas (clearly seriously wrong) and ignores gun owners (or carriers) who do not have legal permits. Your stats also only refer to hand guns.

"law abiding citizens" don't normally break they law so comparing crime rates among them with the population at large makes no sense.


Yes, we Republicans stand for a smaller federal government that doesn't interfere with the states' ability to govern themselves, except for gun laws, abortion, and the regulation of health insurance. Stop telling the states what to do!!

Hunter56 in reply to nannite

Yes, in my town there is a small factory that produces exactly one drive gear for the M-1 tank. Employs like 7 people. But every time a defense budget comes up, they threaten to move this production elsewhere.


According to Bloomberg , Economist and democrats more guns = more crime. What about " shall issue" Czech Republic having less crime ( and no terrorist attacks ) than 'gun free " Britain, France, Germany ....?

guest-ljasjjm in reply to p6868

You're presumably joking, p6868?! If so (..and in case you're actually being serious) I confess I'm rising to your fly: even if the (Wikipedia) statistics are a year or two out of date, it is ludicrous to compare gun-related deaths on any other basis than per head of population (or, actually, per 100,000 of a country's population). Do that, and the Czech Republic scores just over 2 per 100K, France 2.83/100K, Ireland 0.8/100K, Mexico 7.64/100K, S Africa 8.3/100K, Argentina 6.36/100K, UK 0.23/100K (..that IS a zero ahead of the decimal point, by the way), and the USA...wait for it, folks...comes in at a magnificent 10.54/100K.
As for the point about terrorist attacks...there, too, the unfortunate murder of innocent bystanders, horrific as each such death undoubtedly is, has to be compared against a total population of +/- 70M and, in the UK anyway, basically has nothing at all to do with the gun-ownership rate: explosives, stolen vans, and/or knives are regrettably more likely causes.

Langosta in reply to p6868

Guns are safe as teddy bears. Out of the 33,000 Americans who died with guns last year, 22,000 were suicides, or DIY euthanasia. Liberals like euthanasia. So they should think of guns as a type of hypodermic needle that injects bullets into the human body instead of poison. Of the other 11,000 gun deaths, 10,700 were criminals shooting each other, which is what we want. The other 300 were people shooting each other by accident or domestic violence. It's about the same number of people who are struck by lightning each year.

Langosta in reply to jouris

I'm glad you asked that question!
Teddy Bear Killed More People Than Grizzly Bears.
You might be shocked to know that our daily life common things or activities are more likely to be dangerous than the accidents we hear about in daily news.People are much more likely to use caution when they are in a situation they perceive as being dangerous than they are when doing normal activities.
Now you must be thinking and looking for answers how could teddy bear kill more people than Grizzly Bears.
Let me show you some facts:
In the last eighty nine years, 82 Americans have been killed in bear attacks.
Teddy bears and other toys account for 22 deaths each year, and nearly 1500 injuries and Most of these deaths and injuries happen to children.
The most common teddy bear hazard is the small parts that can fall off and become choking hazards, like their glass eyes.Teddy bears are also tripping hazards.Tripping and falling can cause no harm at all or can result in death, if the child trips and falls down a flight of stairs or hits his or her head on the sharp corner of a coffee table.
We must ban those Teddy Bears. BEFORE THEY KILL AGAIN!

jouris in reply to Langosta

Always glad to oblige. ;-)
What your report shows is that there is no way to achieve absolute safety; and anyone who demands that is delusional. But we knew that. Which is why I oppose banning all guns. Specifically, I see no justification for banning hunting rifles, for all that they can be (and occasionally are) used to kill people rather than game.
I would note, however, that it appears that the number of homicides via teddy bear appears to be zero. And even accidental deaths from teddy bears look to be way lower that accidental gun deaths. Just sayin'....

jouris in reply to guest-lmjsmij

As noted, there is no absolute safety. There's "a couple of people" who get killed with any number of everyday objects, of the kind found in homes across the nation. We don't worry about banning, or even regulating, them because they are useful objects for other purposes. Purposes unrelated to killing people.

guest-lmjsmij in reply to jouris

Precisely. What there is though, is risk management: reducing the probability of unwanted things happening. Just because a probability remains that these will happen anyway, does not mean that you ignore all possible mitigation measures.

It's the same with climate change: even if you're a right wing American, the fact that nearly everyone else is convinced shows that there is high probability of climate change being real and caused by humans. Now even if that might not be the case, the pruduent thing to do is to take mitigation measures since the alternative is a high risk of something unwanted happening.

Get it?


California is a "may issue" CCW state and the police normally do not issue CCW to anyone who is not politically connected. Diane Feinstein is a well known anti-gun advocate but when she was mayor of San Francisco, she got a CCW even though as mayor she had a 24 hour police bodyguard. A friend got a CCW because he lent his hunting cabin to the local sheriff to use when he was not using it. The reality is in "may issue" states, giving out CCWs is a perk that politicians use to reward supporters. So people who need CCWs do not get them while those who do not need them get them. My friend got his CCW just to show he could do it. He had no need for it and never carried a conceal weapon at all.
The link between CCWs and higher gun homicide may well be due to this fact, that CCWs are often issued to people whose only reason to have one is to show they are politically connected. It is an abuse of power and people who do that are prone to abuse their power knowing their political connections will get them off.

Genghis Keynes in reply to Kenneth711

Except that the higher gun homicide is found in the states with looser concealed-carry rules, the ones where you don't have to be politically connected to get a permit. So the moral seems to be that if only politicians' friends get to carry concealed weapons, the homicide rate stays down nice and low.

Kenneth711 in reply to Genghis Keynes

"Except that the higher gun homicide is found in the states with looser concealed-carry rules"
If you had ever taken a course in statistical analysis, you would know that correlations says nothing about cause and effect. A correlation can exist if both A and B are effects of a third event C. Even when A and B have a casual relationship, the correlation tells you nothing about which is the cause and which is the effect.
The fallacy of your position is it is ASSUMES all the increased homicide rates are unjustified. It allows people with a prejudicial view to make the prejudicial assumptions they want to make regardless of the facts. One can make the equally valid assumption that the higher homicide rates are people with CCWs being able to defend themselves when they would otherwise not be able. Hence the higher but justified homicide rate and a safer society.
The only certainty is when someone quotes the higher homicide rates and NO OTHER information as to the nature of the homicides, is that they are lying to you with a half truth and trying to fool you into making an assumption that is not justified by any facts, Just as you have done with your posting.

Genghis Keynes in reply to Kenneth711

First, do NOT make presumptions about my education. Yes, I have taken courses in statistical analysis. I also TEACH them.
Second, US law distinguishes justifiable and unjustifiable homicide. So if your argument had any basis in fact, in places with lots of concealed weapons you would have a higher rate of justifiable homicides and a lower rate of unjustifiable homicides. Except that this does not happen--what you have is a higher rate of unjustifiable homicides. Your claim, despite being presented in such a hostile and aggressive way, is pure fantasy.


Remarkable how Republicans abandon policies for politics. Deficit? Old hat. States’ Rights? The NRA is a state.

guest-omnnmei in reply to Kenneth711

Yep, "rational" gun policies. So "rational" the the NRA's violent American gun paradise is the perfect NEGATIVE example for the rest of the world. There's a reason every OECD country rejects the NRA's "rational" gun policy crap.
The NRA is living rent free in your gun worshiping, gun pimping skull.

CaptainRon in reply to Kenneth711

Consistent maybe, but not rational. This law is essentially asking every state to accept the legislation from the least controlled states even if those states are lax in even checking for a felony record. Ignoring gun violence is a long standing policy of the GOP, especially if the NRA money keeps rolling in.


Gun culture is a major part of the USA doing its best to achieve third-world status.
American gun death rates are exceptional, is that the kind of exceptionalism we aspire to?
Will greater number Make America Great Again?
Will this inspire more foreign tourists to visit?

Kenneth711 in reply to roddalitz

UN statistics put the homicide rate in the USA as average among all nations. By contrast, Mexico is now the second deadliest nation in the world after Syria. Syria has the excuse that it is in the midst of long running civil war and is a center of ISIS activity. Mexico is supposedly a nation at peace and with very strict gun control laws. In both Syria and Mexico people are constantly finding mass graves. There are no such mass graves in the USA. Yet in the southwestern USA, Mexican Spanish is spoken more often in many places than English.
The idea that the USA has a gun culture is false and it is false ideas like this that are one reason why the gun control movement is so ineffectual. The American NRA is modeled after the Swiss NRA and the "gun culture" in the USA is modeled after that of Switzerland which has more people killed with knives than guns despite the presence of full automatic assault weapons in most households.

Stan the man in reply to Kenneth711

Swiss and US laws are similar except for the CONCEALED CARRY LAWS. Swiss people are also far better educated than Americans, which is why crime is vastly lower. The US is a cesspool compared to Switzerland. i am an American who lived extensively there. most European are horrified by what Americans call civilisation outside the blue states...

CaptainRon in reply to Kenneth711

Perhaps Mexico might be explained by the fact they in the middle of the drug wars. Its been in the news. What does the language spoken in the southwest US have to do with any point you made.

This misinformation about the Swiss system is also pulled up every time the argument about guns comes up. The weapons for Swiss Army service are very regulated.

Kenneth711 in reply to Stan the man

"European are horrified by what Americans call civilisation outside the blue states..."
The highest murder rates and total number of murders in the USA are all in blue state cities such as Chicago and Baltimore. These are also states with the strictest gun control laws. All you have stated is Europeans are very ignorant about gun law and gun violence in the USA and have swallowed the anti-gun propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Kenneth711 in reply to CaptainRon

Culturally the southwestern USA is more like Mexico than Canada. That is the point of the language spoken. If you do not get that point, you are very ignorant of that part of America. That means that the drug war in Mexico has spilled over into the USA. The California DOJ released its most recent statistics on who gets murdered in California. In the rest of the country, blacks are usually the most often murdered group of people. In California, it is Hispanics and usually Mexican and El Salvadorans. Both countries have exported large number of their gangsters to the USA, usually illegally.
"The weapons for Swiss Army service are very regulated."...And the regulations says that households MUST have assault weapons and ammo for them. There are far more households with assault weapons in Switzerland than in the USA. Basically every household in Switzerland with a male of military age has to have a weapon and ammo in it for militia service. OTOH only 1/3 of US household have a gun in it. So Switzerland shows that the dogma that more guns mean more gun homicide is wrong.

NickyGoodtimes in reply to Kenneth711

"The highest murder rates and total number of murders in the USA are all in blue state cities such as Chicago and Baltimore."
Once again, for the mouthbreathers immune to facts like Kenneth here:
The surrounding suburbs and Indiana. 60 percent of the guns confiscated on the streets of Chicago come from Indiana, Wisconsin and Mississippi. The other 40 percent come from suburban Cook County and nearby suburbs. There are places where one can LITERALLY cross the street from the western-most border of Chicago and can be in a gun shop's front door within 50 paces.
Here is a good story by the not-exactly-liberal Chicago Trib:

msteiner in reply to Kenneth711

@Kenneth711, what you say about Switzerland has little ground in reality. there is no swiss equivalent to (modern day) NRA and there is no regulation about swiss households having to have assault weapons and ammo. its only active military service members who have their service riffle at home (and even that is not necessarily true nowadays) and the ammo is a meagre 24 bullets. swiss gun culture definitely does not compare to US one ...


I love The Economist but their stance on gun safety and regulation has always seemed out of touch in my opinion. It's easy for a European magazine to spout off the dangers of firearms and to dismiss 2nd amendment advocates as dangerous or misguided. Europeans have never had a large gun culture, and governments in Europe have actively restricted ownership for centuries, while Americans have been fortunate to enjoy liberal rights in this regard.

I agree that there are measures to be taken to improve the background check system to try and stop those who likely should not have access to firearms, but attacking the reciprocity bill is wrong. The 2nd amendment is clear in its intention to protect ownership and use of firearms for all Americans, whether they're from Utah or Los Angeles. The current regime of state-by-state regulation does not and should not supersede the 2nd amendment.

The bill got 6 Democratic votes in the House, so while it may be unlikely that Senate Democrats sign on, it is not impossible.

Kenneth711 in reply to RaptorNXT

Misuse of the right to bear arms is the norm when it comes to CCWs in "may issue" states where the issuance of the permits is mostly a perk given out by politicians to their supporters. In "may issue" California, the two people I know who got CCW got them through their political connections and neither had any need for them. They just wanted to show off their connections. Once in a while a sheriff gets elected who issues CCWs to people based on actual need for one and it always generate stories about how CCWs are normally issued based on political connections.

Noijmiw in reply to Cthurman

As an European I can kinda explain why we're so against US gun rights: in today's world there is no legitimate reason to have a "right to have a gun" and it does way more harm than good. You c
Again here in your argumentation, your "reason" is basically "because the constitution says so"... So what if your constitution says so? Is your constitution some holy text that cannot be modified and that when it was written was automatically magically adapted for
to have this right

Noijmiw in reply to Cthurman

As an European I can kinda explain to you why we're so against US gun rights: in our opinion, the right to have guns in the US exists ONLY because some people WANT guns, not because it makes sense to make gun-ownership a fundamental right (in today's world it totally doesn't). Since the upkeep of your pro-gun laws leads to tens of thousands of preventable deaths annually, we interpret is as follows: just to satisfy the selfish desire of a minuscule minority, the US sacrifices tens of thousands of people a year... So yeah, we see your pro-gun folks as selfish assholes letting people die by the tens of thousands to indulge in their hobby.
Furthermore the pro-gun arguments that are usually given seem so intentionally dishonest to us (as in "you're using the argument but you very well know yourself it's bullshit and are just using it to build your case through lies"). Some examples:
- More guns leads to more safety! No it doesn't, and unless you're an idiot that can't read statistics, you know that yourself too. The statistics are quite clear on this and the scientific consensus too: more guns leads to more violence and preventable gun-deaths, no matter the political, sociological, cultural or historical background of the considered country. There is no credible "US exceptionalism" explaining why only in the US more guns would lead to less deaths while the opposite is true in the entire rest of the world. The "but the US is already saturated in guns!" isn't a credible exceptionalism argument and isn't supported by research.
- We should be allowed to have guns because the constitution says so! So what if your constitution says so? Is your constitution some holy text that cannot be modified and that when it was written was automatically magically adapted for eternity for the US? Of course not. Your founding fathers could never have foreseen how the world turned out, and a lot of laws that made sense back then don't make any sense today, like your second amendment. Stop confusing politics with religion and just review your constitution.
- We must protect the basic "intrinsic right of every human being to use lethal force"! You very well know the second amendment was crafted for protection against British/European invasion and not at all for some "intrinsic right to us lethal force". Besides, only US citizens seem to overwhelmingly recognize an "intrinsic right to use lethal force", while this just seems weird to the rest of the world. I can understand a intrinsic right to protection, but protection of an individual can be achieved much more effectively by gun-control than by giving everyone an intrinsic right to use lethal force...
- ...
When someone uses these arguments on here, we assume they know that they are bulshitting, and thus in effect are trying to manipulate you towards their views by using lies. And they're trying to manipulate you not for some greater good cause, but for the selfish and unnecessary desire to own guns...