What a Sane Country Would Do

Orlando was the worst, but it was only a matter of degree.

You all know the statistics:

  • More than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year in this country
  • More than 30 people are shot and murdered each day
  • 1/2  of them are between the ages of 18 and 35

And our lawmakers do absolutely nothing to prevent these deaths. Quite the contrary–they facilitate them.

Rational laws that would save lives don’t have to violate anyone’s sacred Second Amendment rights. (I do wish some of those Second Amendment purists were half as vigilant about other provisions of the Bill of Rights…). We simply have to stop electing people too timid and/or self-serving to stand up to the NRA–lawmakers willing to enact rational measures that overwhelming majorities of Americans–and majorities of its own members– support.

Just for starters:

The day after the San Bernardino massacre, Senate Republicans defeated a measure that would have prevented terrorists from buying guns.

The GOP-controlled Senate refusal to pass new gun control measures came weeks after the Washington Post reported that suspected terrorists had successfully purchased more than 2,000 guns from American dealers between 2004 and 2014, even though law enforcement is notified whenever someone on the FBI’s watchlist attempts to purchase a firearm.

You might think that allowing people we deem too dangerous to be allowed on a plane should be prevented from buying lethal arms, but according to the NRA, that would violate their rights.

And learning anything about the nature and extent of gun violence would also evidently imperil the Second Amendment. President Obama lifted the ban on such research, but Congress has adamantly refused to fund it. It’s anyone’s guess what the NRA is afraid such research would uncover…

The invention of a gun that can only be fired by its owner would seem to be a no-brainer–a boon to all those “good guys with guns” the NRA keeps talking about. If stealing that good guy’s gun becomes futile because only he can use it, that would certainly seem to be a good thing. But the introduction of guns with that feature was met with death threats (click through if you don’t believe me), intimidating retailers who might otherwise sell them, and a fear that laws might be passed requiring all guns sold to have the feature. That, of course, would reduce gun sales…

NO “good guy” needs an assault weapon. (I love the argument that citizens need these armaments in order to defy an overreaching government. Anyone who thinks the possession of an assault rifle would allow him to prevail over government drones, tanks and other sophisticated arms in the event our government suddenly went on the offensive is simply insane.)

None of these measures would interfere with legitimate ownership and use of a gun. All of them would make us safer.

The NRA doesn’t care. Their constituency is the gun manufacturers.

The question is: why do we continue to elect lawmakers in thrall to an organization that isn’t even responsive to its own membership?


  1. The Declaration of Independence lists “unalienable” rights that come from the Creator: LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of something or other blabbedy blah.

    Why are those so concerned with a man-made “right” to bear arms completely oblivious to others’ unalienable right to live? (Oddly, many of the same folks refer to themselves as “PRO-LIFE”!!!!!!)

  2. From what I’ve been reading this morning, this monster was gay. He had attended this night club many times in the past and was, I can surmise, conflicted with his homosexuality. He was living a dual life with a wife and child. He had anger issues. There have been 998 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. Every last one of these were carried out by males. We don’t have a terrorism problem, we have a male anger problem.

    I support everything you wrote today.

  3. The gun enthusiasts were on facebook first thing Sunday morning shouting that Obama is not going to take away their guns. How many years has that “threat” been going on? Several years and they still own their guns and no one has gone to their house to attempt to take them away.

    I would like to know how the NRA actually became so powerful. Of course, money and buying members of Congress are involved, but their level of power just amazes me. The threat of terrorism seems to have given the NRA even more power to encourage people to buy guns for their own safety.

    Until we demand that our congressional representatives pass the laws that you have mentioned, it seems that the gun manufacturers will continue to smile all the way to the bank.

    Today I am going to find out which members of the Senate voted against the sane gun laws and then plan to contact them. I do wonder if those laws failed because someone threw in something completely unrelated just to cause the measure to fail. I will be looking into that too.

  4. After Sandy Hook, we did nothing. Someone walked into a grade school and mowed down first graders and their teachers. We did nothing. There is a special place in hell for each and every one of us just for that. I looked at the list of people killed in Orlando and realized that most were just kids too. Kids out having fun. More young people dead. I doubt it will even matter in the long run.

  5. In March of this year, the true power of the NRA was revealed when the Senate Majority Leader, Mr. McConnell, publicly announced that the next SCOTUS member would not be chosen without the approval of the NRA. This kind of blatant acknowledgement of the NRA’s control of this country should give pause for serious reflection to all those gun owners who are afraid of the very same government of which they are a part .
    We have heard ad nauseam for the last 8 years (since the President was elected) that the “government” was going to take away guns. It hasn’t happened. It was a lie told by powerful and wealthy men to incite hate and fear in the ignorant and racists who are all too willing to be led around by their collective nose in complete subservience to their handlers.
    To further underscore the success of those self-interested oligarchs, we have the spectacle of hundreds of AR-15 rifles and other firearms being purchased in gun stores across the country just days after a slaughter by one shooter with intent to kill as many as possible. Stock prices for Smith & Wesson skyrocketed overnight and that for only one manufacturer.
    Instead of meaningless “moments of silence” in the halls of government and the posturing of our ideologically rigid politicians who spend the rest of their time in office trying to legislate hate and fear into the lives of us all, let’s finally, at long last, DO something to end this madness. How much more innocent blood must be shed? How many more lives must be lost? How much more pain must we all suffer for the “rights” of the gun lobby to facilitate their own agenda and further their wealth and power?

    To show how

  6. This is sad but true; this country was temporarily upset by the massacre of 20 small children and 6 teachers within the “safety” of their school by a mentally unstable young man whose mother (her mental stability was questionable) legally collected many weapons and taught her son to use them proficiently. He killed her before heading for the school to massacre the children and teachers. Sandy Hook is still mentioned by the media but no action was, is or will be taken regarding gun control because of these terrible losses…a sane country would resolve this problem. In a sane country the problem would NOT have existed.

    If 20 children, 6 teachers, 9 worshipers in a church and (I think) 12-15 movie goers can be murdered with no action; do not delude yourselves that action will be taken due to the deaths and injuries in Orlando of 103 LGBTQs celebrating their Pride weekend. We are still battling to get laws to protect them, allowing them to love one another and live their lives without government interference; laws protecting their lives will be at the bottom of the “to-do” list of state and federal lawmakers. A sane country would have already resolved these problems even though the Bill of Rights doesn’t include them specifically any more than it protects marriage meaning one man and one woman.

    The misinterpretation of both the 1st and 2nd Amendments lies at the root of all of these problems. Our founding fathers could not imagine what this country, and the world, has become since they so diligently worked to create our Constitution of the United States and it’s Amendments. They were sane, if not psychic, today insanity rules. Keep track of Donald Trump’s continuing insanity regarding Orlando; never forgetting his earlier idiocy or that of his followers and the entire GOP. Their insanity lies in their support of Donald Trump but distancing themselves from his speeches and rants. They cannot have it both ways and we need to stop them on November 8th from continuing. When our elected officials do not act or react in a sane manner, the country cannot act or react sanely on it’s own.

  7. I am so grateful to have found your blog. Thank you. I believe this guy was conflicted about his own sexuality and used the name of Isis in his attack. Isis didn’t know this man. Will they denounce him when they learn he was actually gay?

  8. I don’t agree 100% with these premises. Would there be a device where the original purchaser could transfer (legally) a firearm? Perhaps as part of an estate? And would someone convicted of a non-violent crime be able to legally own a firearm? And some better care needs to be exercised when putting people on a “Watch ” list.

  9. I have a rather naive question for all those with legal expertise who follow Sheila’s blog:
    Is there a creative way to sue the NRA for being complicit in the thousands of gun deaths each year? A class-action suit; a RICO corruption charge? Bribery and coercion?

    I can remember learning about Al Capone’s deadly grasp on the American political system; his control over judges and elected officials. He was finally brought down on tax evasion charges.

    Can we get creative in dealing with the iron-fisted grasp enjoyed by the NRA?

  10. I support what you suggest. Maybe even require training for permit-holders. Scott Keller, Certified Instructor: Rifle, Shotgun and Pistol, National Rifle Association. And Republican.

  11. Some thoughts:

    1) The so-called price of “freedom” is not what most people think. It actually is that stupid people impose their stupidity on the rest of us more easily. The peasants needed the heavy hand of a king for real, you know.

    2) Americans are embarrassingly fearful. I would suggest that this has two major causes:
    a) Our system of government is extremely complex and difficult to understand, thus anxiety-producing and easily manipulated by professional dividers of people,
    b) Our economic system leaves millions desperate for their next meals and millions more desperate to fight to save their next meals, and
    c) racism (tribalism) has always been the driving force behind virtually all of American culture.

    3) Religion teaches people to believe in irrationality, then we are surprised when they behave irrationally.

    None of this will change until we change our flawed, outdated form of government, so stop whining, pack heat, and enjoy the show.

  12. Neal smith; Indiana Congress vetoed a gun control bill which would require registering ALL gun sales with the state. It included the requirement of sales between private citizens also be registered. As I said, Indiana Congress changing any requirements in our current laws. Not a sane state!

    In 2015, Indianapolis, Indiana, had the highest murder rate, primarily by guns, in the history of this city. 2016 has a good start on equaling the 2015 murder rate. Not a sane city or state!

  13. oops, I omitted the word “vetoed” regarding “…Indiana Congress — changing any requirements.”

  14. Scott Keller,

    We need people like you to get the laws changed. NRA members and gun enthusiasts will listen to you. Have you tried to educate fellow NRA members to demand changes in our gun laws?

  15. The “strict constructionists” who blather about their 2nd Amendment rights have determined that the first part of that amendment doesn’t matter. In fact the first part, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,” references Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and is therefore essential in understanding the intent of that Amendment.

    All that aside, we have set limits on every other right in the “Bill of Rights”. It is incomprehensible that we cannot do that with the most dangerous right we have.

    Why do we keep electing people who won’t do something about gun violence? We have forgotten that the rights of citizens impose duties upon those citizens and we have become too lazy to assume those dutues.

  16. My 12 gauge has a waterfowl plug that reduces the magazine capacity. 3 cartridges is the maximum that can be fired without reloading. Over the last fifty years I’ve never found a reason to remove the plug and increase the capacity to 5. My 30-06 is bolt action with a five cartridge magazine and has been perfectly adequate for any legitimate purpose.
    I think we can devise rational gun control legislation. Assault weapons have no place in civilian society. Laws restricting felons and the mentally ill access to firearms are already on the books and should be enforced and strengthened.
    And don’t give me that crap about not being able to protect your home without an assault weapon. A shotgun is much better for that purpose.
    We license drivers and suspend their license if they prove irresponsible. We restrict certain age groups from purchasing tobacco and alcohol. We control access to prescription narcotics. We have plenty of examples of applying controls to products and privileges in our society. We can and should limit the types of firearms available on the market and who should be able to purchase them.
    This is a no brainer!

  17. I like your list Sheila and would add three others.

    1. Those on restraining orders due to domestic violence or who have been convicted of domesic violence should not be able to purchase guns.

    2. The government should outlaw and buy back semi-automatic weapons except for use by the military and law enforcement.

    3. Any sale or transfer of guns from one owner to another must be registered just like we do with automobiles.

  18. Like a lot of paranoids, the NRA and all those who consider their messages as delicacies, refuse to take their medications. They feel so much euphoria when they are embroiled in anxiety.

  19. @Neal smith: If rational gun laws are not 100% effective, should they not be passed? Auto safety laws are not 100% effective, but they save many, many lives. And to anyone (everyone) questioning the 30,000 statistic or any other number that seems to large to believe — rational gun laws will save SOME lives. Is that not enough?

    I’d like to see another bullet-point (oh, the irony) added to Sheila’s list: No “poison pill” amendments or provisions in future gun control bills. Put a 100% clean bill in front of the legislature and watch them squirm.

  20. After a battle, when inquiring as to the casualties, Gen. Grant used to ask, “Well, what’s the butcher’s bill?” Indeed, what IS the butcher’s bill? And when will we finally tire of paying it?

  21. JoAnn, you asked me yesterday about my friendly fire casualties comment. I was referring to combat. When I was stateside in training the only time we had access to weapons was when we went out to the ranges to practice or train. The drill sergeants made sure your weapons were pointed down range.

    The Orlando and other mass shootings receives the press. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/oct/02/mass-shootings-america-gun-violence. http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

    We do have everyday homicides in the USA, which go virtually unreported or quickly disappear. The collection of data into one national data base is absent. For instance in Roswell, NM recently, 5 people were found shot to death. A New Mexico man has been accused of killing his wife and 4 daughters.

    Our McMega-Media press and politicians dance around the issue. Why does the entire country of Denmark have less homicides per year than the city of Indianapolis????

  22. As I gather, Indiana has extremely lax gun laws especially in obtaining a permit to carry (or concealed carry, whatever it’s called). Absolutely no instruction concerning firearm handling/safety is required. Occasionally, my Hoosier friends poke good-natured fun at my being born in Kentucky; however, the Bluegrass state can boast of having far stricter gun laws.

    Attached is a link to Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS). Pay particular attention to KRS 237.110 which outlines Kentucky law for carrying a concealed weapon. Even folks who are behind in child support payments are denied a license along with the expected controlled substance violations including DUI’s, domestic abuse charges.

  23. The NRA and the GOP aficionados are going to blah, blah, blah about how many are killed annually in auto tragedies compared with the few in gun violence. Tell them there is a difference between murder, accident and the so-called “will of God”.
    Let’s get a bill drafted and introduced into Congress. Then organize a March on Washington. Let’s form a citizen’s committee (Sheila might chair it) to meet with Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind). Forget Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind). He could make it bipartisan but he won’t. The proposed law could include dollars to buy back and destroy assault weapons and make it illegal to own, sell, buy and manufacture them and ammunition for them.

  24. “The Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent, non-federal task force, examined an assortment of firearms laws, including the AWB, and found “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”[25] A 2004 critical review of firearms research by a National Research Council committee said that an academic study of the assault weapon ban “did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence outcomes.” The committee noted that the study’s authors said the guns were used criminally with relative rarity before the ban and that its maximum potential effect on gun violence outcomes would be very small.[26]

    In 2004, a research report submitted to the United States Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice found that should the ban be renewed, its effects on gun violence would likely be small, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement, because rifles in general, including rifles referred to as “assault rifles” or “assault weapons”, are rarely used in gun crimes.[27] That study by Christopher S. Koper, Daniel J. Woods, and Jeffrey A. Roth of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania found no statistically significant evidence that either the assault weapons ban or the ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds had reduced gun murders. However, they concluded that it was “premature to make definitive assessments of the ban’s impact on gun crime,” and argue that if the ban had been in effect for more than nine years, benefits might have begun to appear.[27] A 2002 study by Koper and Roth found that around the time when the ban became law, assault weapon prices increased significantly, but this increase was reversed in the several months afterward due to a surge in assault weapons production that occurred just before the ban took effect.[28] A study conducted by Dube in 2013, showed that the passing of the FAWB in 1994 had an insignificant impact on violent crime in Mexico, while the expiration of the FAWB in 2004 combined with political instability was correlated with an increase in gun-related homicides among Mexican municipalities near the border.[29]

    Research by John Lott found no impact of these bans on violent crime rates,[30] but provided evidence that the bans may have reduced the number of gun shows by over 20 percent.[31] Koper, Woods, and Roth studies focus on gun murders, while Lott’s look at murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults. Unlike their work, Lott’s research accounted for state assault weapon bans and 12 other different types of gun control laws.

    The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence examined the impact of the Assault Weapons Ban in its 2004 report, On Target: The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Act. Examining 1.4 million guns involved in crime, “in the five-year period before enactment of the Federal Assault Weapons Act (1990-1994), assault weapons named in the Act constituted 4.82% of the crime gun traces ATF conducted nationwide. Since the law’s enactment, however, these assault weapons have made up only 1.61% of the guns ATF has traced to crime. Page 10 of the Brady report, however, adds that “an evaluation of copycat weapons is necessary”. Including “copycat weapons”, the report concluded that “in the post-ban period, the same group of guns has constituted 3.1% of ATF traces, a decline of 45%.”[32] A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) stated that he “can in no way vouch for the validity” of the report.[33]”

    -And yes, its from a Wikipedia article, but the citations are there and you can google the named studies to verify this data yourself.


  25. Disappointed Joe –

    The studies that you refer to go back to 2004 as the most recent. That is twelve years ago.

    I imagine if they were to do a current study the results would certainly determine that banning automatic assault weapons would be beneficial to our society.

  26. BSH; between mid-to-late 1980’s I had a handgun and permit to carry. I had to pay for my handgun then wait 7 days to return to pick it up; during that time I was required to go to police headquarters to be fingerprinted and my information entered in local and NCIC to check for criminal history. Prior to picking up my handgun I asked Don’s Guns (my uncle) about the permit to carry; had to return to headquarters for separate record with fingerprints and name again entered into local and NCIC for criminal history. Then came the only laughable event that week; I had earlier applied to be rehired by the City of Indianapolis after living out of state one year. Received the call I got the job and told to go to police headquarters to be fingerprinted and my name again entered in local and NCIC to check for criminal history. Knowing many of the police officers for years; they cracked up when I walked through the door that 3rd time in one week for the same process. Because I was unfamiliar with all guns; Don’s Guns policy required training in use, care and cleaning of my weapon and target practice. This took a little over an hour and I felt much more comfortable when I walked out armed.

    I had a “Protective Order” on which the judge entered permanent status due to three separate life-threatening events during my marriage; my ex-husband had been stalking me for months. A Protective Order gives you no protection because police do not honor it unless and until you are seriously injured. They tell you that the charge is a misdemeanor, the arrestee will be released within hours and be angrier than before the arrest, raising your chance of being seriously attacked.

    While still carrying my handgun, a situation arose at work in the City-County Building that I had to tell the Director I did have a handgun and permit to carry. He argued I could not bring it into the building; was to lock in in the glove compartment of my car. Explaining – and repeated arguing – that it was dark when I walked to work from the parking lot and getting dark when I left work, the times that I most needed my weapon. He finally agreed with me but…how many places of employment make the same demand, refusing to let an authorized person carry the handgun they are licensed to carry. In recent years; how many job-site killings have there been? I sold my gun prior to moving out of state but the current situation regarding guns throughout this country makes me wonder about those who need protection and get proper permits to carry are prevented doing so due to rules in places of employment. This is a no-win situation as well as being a dangerous and frightening world to live in. There is NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER.

  27. Doing some personal brainstorming here. Because it’s believed the lobbyists for the gun manufacturers and the NRA are providing enormous sums of financial support (big money) to a set of lawmakers, why not curry the favor of an equally deep-pocketed lobbying group, the insurance lobbyists, by working toward titling those firearms such as AR-15’s. Along with titled ownership of such a weapon, there naturally would follow liability insurance covering the owner of the weapon in the event the firearm was involved in causing an injury or a death.

    The insurance lobby surely must be as greedy as the gun manufacturing and the NRA lobbyists.
    Let the best lobbyist win. Pit one lobbying group against another lobbying group since lobbyists appear to hold more sway with our lawmakers than the electorate.

    My family enjoys our inground swimming pool, great sporting recreation for all ages; however, we are aware there are dangers involved with our backyard pool and as a result, our homeowner’s insurance premium is increased to protect us from those dreadful accidents which might occur.

  28. I can only imagine the NRA discussions being held behind closed doors regarding how much more money they will have to donate to politicians to keep them in their pockets.

  29. Nancy: Btw, Obama and Washington ARE to blame for this latest shooting (if anyone other than the shooter is anyway). The US government funded, supplied, and trained members of the Taliban, then Al Qaeda, and our policies and weapons “lost” overseas helped give rise to ISIS. We have regularly propped up religious zealots only to turn around and bomb them. We regularly bomb civilians without a thought and actively fund Zionists which are at war with Islamic peoples.

    This has made us hated by many in the middle east, especially ISIS.

    Then, the FBI has this guy on their radar for weeks and does nothing.

    But sure, blame the guns.

  30. The issue is that Americans need to choose between living in fear or living in freedom. The conspiracy that forces us to to make that choice is based on the fact that fearful people are controllable and controllable people will readily give up their freedom and surrender to power.

    It really is that simple.

    In the absence of fear and the celebration of freedom Donald would be seen just as he is; a Brooklyn thug celebrity. He’s a rapper thug without the talent. The NRA would be seen for what they are; an advertising agency. The fossil fuel industry would be seen for what they are; the mafia selling protection; pay allegiance to us or will put the big hurt on you. The Tea Party for what they are; a white supremacy cult. Big banks or what they are; slavers employing debt instead of chains.

    The big screen and all of the little screens have taken once proud accomplished people and reduced us to ignorant sniveling cowards.

    We didn’t let it happen we encouraged it. After all isn’t watching trash TV worth cashing in our freedom for?

  31. Just moved from Indiana to Tennessee where a state representative, Andy Holt, has announced that he plans on giving away two AR-15’s at a fundraiser. I guess there will be a background check on the ‘winners’. I made the mistake of reading the comment sections from some of the media websites regarding this give-away gift.


    My husband and I have talked over most of all the above statements….we are actually irritated by all the media and politicians and all their talk…just meaningless words as they are backed up by inaction…their speeches have all said the same thing after every mass shooting.

    Why not also tax the hell out of ammunitions like cigarettes and alcohol? One person suggested this and the money can be used to help these families bury their loved ones….my husband also asked about suing the NRA.

    I have read many articles in the past where most citizens want some form of sensible gun legislation…someone educate me on the issues behind background checks. I keep hearing that they are on the books and not enforced…is it not the gun store owners not enforcing? what organizations are responsible to putting names on to the ‘no-no’ list and what criteria has to be met? I am assuming some of this varies by states.

  32. Trying to reason with gun owners is useless. Like religious zealots, their beliefs are not based upon reason or fact or science. Gun owner rights like religious zealot rights must be limited for the good of everyone else.

  33. So the Center for DISEASE Control should study guns?

    Now we are denying constitutional rights to citizens on a watch list? What other constitutional rights can we take from people on watch lists? Not disagreeing with sentiment, but how do we do that?

    Define ‘assault’ weapon.

    Don’t you teach future lawyers?

  34. William. Many other countries have solved this problem just like many other countries have affordable health care for others. Why do conservatives insist that we are not smart enough to solve either problem?

  35. On his show last night devoted to the Orlando murders Steven Colbert demonstrated that Bill O’Reilly is barely smart enough to even be a conservative.


    For example O’Reilly’s solution to ISIS? Send in the military and “annihilate” them.

    Bill, incoming. They don’t wear uniforms and they don’t have a country. Your idea would be like bombing Chicago to reduce crime. Many Muslims are right now solving their problems with extremism just like we have here. They waited until guns were the only answer. We should benefit from their experience and win our war with votes.

    It’s people like Bill and the Donald who should be in the Neanderthal Party. They hope that instilling fear will make us all as stupid but as their cult grows we have to continuously remind ourselves that we are Americans. We are free because we respect and support each other. We live by our wits and our hearts not by our media.

    We can defeat extremism here with moderation.

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