9 Reasons More Guns In Schools Is An Idiotic Idea

Connecticut School Shooting NRAYesterday, President Obama announced his hopes and dreams regarding gun control, measures for which he intends to rally public support and hopes to convince a “reluctant Congress” to endorse. These measures include banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, expanding background checks and toughening gun-trafficking laws. “I will put everything I’ve got into this,” Obama told the press, “and so will Joe.”

This comes after the NRA’s announcement last month that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” and therefore the best way to curtail homicide in public schools is to arm teachers or place more armed guards in schools. Specifically, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre called on Congress to “act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.” A Republican congressman lamented that the principal at Sandy Hook was unarmed: “I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”

Even Obama has called for hiring as many as 1,000 more school-based law enforcement officers, and a CBS/NBC Poll found 74 percent of Americans think more armed security guards in public places would reduce mass shootings. I don’t.

9 Reasons We Don’t Need More Guns In Schools

1. Columbine High School and Virginia Tech Had Armed Guards

Over one-third of public schools in America already have armed guards, including Columbine High School. There were armed guards present at Virginia Tech as well, and one of the massacre’s first victims was, in fact, an armed campus guard. Nevertheless, after the Virginia Tech shooting, Gun Owners of America called for an end to gun-free zones which “leave the Nation’s schools at the mercy of madmen.”

2. The only thing we know for sure about how the presence of armed guards affects a school is that it leads to more arrests.

In schools with their own security force, conduct that used to be handled by school administrators and counselors who specialize in child development and psychology are often handled by school police. This is problematic on several levels, including the fact that inevitably, the color of your skin is likely to have more bearing on if and how you’re punished than the actual severity of your misdeed. From a report on a pending lawsuit in a Mississippi school district over abuse by  armed guards:

The report, which is to be released Thursday, found that in one Mississippi school district, 33 of every 1,000 children were arrested or referred to juvenile detention centers; that in another, such referrals included second and third graders; and that in yet another, only 4 percent of the law enforcement referrals were for felony-level behavior, the most often cited offense being “disorderly conduct.”[…] In addition to statistics, the report described episodes in which a child was taken home by the police for wearing shoes that violated the dress code, and a school where misbehaving students were handcuffed for infractions as minor as not wearing a belt.

3. No more than 1.6% percent of mass shootings were ended by armed civilians

It’s true that sometimes shootings are halted by armed civilians, but it’s unclear what role firearms actually played in many of those instances and those instances are unfortunately quite rare. Mother Jones analyzed 62 mass shootings that took place in the United States over the last 30 years and found “in not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. And in other recent (but less lethal) rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, those civilians not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.”

4. The more guns Americans own, the more shootings America has

From that same analysis, Mother Jones determined that “the rate of mass shootings has increased in recent years—at a time when America has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of new laws has made it easier than ever to carry them in public places, including bars, parks, and schools.”

5. Tighter gun control works in other countries

After implementing strict gun control measures, gun violence decreased markedly in Australia. Homicides by firearms went down 59 percent between 1995 and 2006. Ditto in the Columbian capital of Bogotá, where deaths by firearm went down 58 percent after public possession of guns were banned by the mayor, bringing its murder rate down to its lowest point in 27 years. As far as I can tell, “arming teachers and putting more guards in school” was not a factor in those reductions.

6. This PSA is totally idiotic

7. Not just anybody can shoot a gun

Effectively using firearms requires training and practice, and there are a variety of circumstances that make it physically impossible for some people to fire a gun. Steven Strauss in The EconoMonitor notes that “Armed custodians, teachers and volunteers will have less vetting and training than a professional security force, and would likely increase the risk of deadly incidents. America has about 7 million teachers. If even a small percentage arm themselves, it wouldn’t take many incidents to exceed the current death toll from mass school shootings.” Nor should “willingness to fire a gun and kill somebody” be a pre-req for anybody interesting in teaching second-graders how to do long division. When armed civillians have been able to impair the progress of a mass shooting, it’s usually an off-duty or retired police officer, not a random civilian.

8. Mass shootings are rare, gun violence is not

Steven Strauss, in the article quoted above, did the math to determine that adding 150,000 guards — to monitor all our public schools — would cost about $15 billion a year, and if said guards are completely effective and never screw up, “based on past trends we’ll save about 10 young lives per year, at a cost of $1.5 billion/life.” It sounds crass, I know, but he’s correct that “it doesn’t take a major leap of faith  to believe that investing $15 billion in comprehensive youth suicide, murder and neglect prevention programs (instead of armed guards) would save hundreds of young lives instead of about 10 lives per year.”

Consider that about 4,600 young people (between the ages of 10 and 24) commit suicide in the U.S. each year, and about 2,000 of these suicides involve firearms. Another 5,000 young people (again, between the ages of 10 and 24) are murdered, and (as noted above) very few of these murders happen in schools. And don’t forget the 1,700 young people (between the ages of 0 and 17) who die each year from neglect or abuse (80 percent of these are under 4 years of age).

9. Schools are already the safest place for students to be, let’s keep it that way

The gun lobby doesn’t just want armed guards in schools, they also want ordinary citizens to be allowed to carry concealed weapons on school campuses. But a U.S Justice department study conducted between 1995 and 2002 found that 93% of the violence against college students happen off campus, including 85% of the violent crimes against students who live on campus. In the 2008 paper No Gun Left Behind: The Gun Lobby’s Campaign To Push Guns Into Colleges and Schools, it’s noted that “elementary and secondary schools are also safer than society at large, as fewer than 1% of school-age homicide victims are killed on or around school grounds or on the way to and from school.” Certainly those numbers have changed since Newton, but not dramatically, and the paper determines: “The discrepancy in violence rates on and off school grounds is no doubt due, in part, to the fact that nearly every academic institution has adopted a policy that either tightly controls possession and use of student firearms or bands guns altogether.”

Those are just some of the reasons I think more guns in schools is a stupid idea. What do you think?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3213 articles for us.


  1. Good points. I also think it’s about the ideology behind ‘arming’ schools. One of the main points of ‘Bowling for Columbine’, if I recall correctly, is that America is a country that was built and grew in a culture of fear and suspicion. Americans continue to arm themselves because of this belief that there is a dangerous threat out there and they must protect themselves with guns. As new threats and dangers emerge, gun culture and militarization continue as a perceived ‘answer’ to the fear. However, the country never looks at the systemic issues themselves, at the fact that war and fighting and fear are now ingrained in the culture and therefore perpetuate the violence. Putting armed guards OUTSIDE SCHOOLS is just perpetuating this ‘hide behind more guns and soldiers’ mentality that will do nothing.

    • yes, i totally agree with you. the idea of armed guards at elementary schools is too police-statey to me and just nurtures a culture of violence and fear. Staceyann chin tweeted yesterday, “the NRA says we need guns ‘in case the government collapses & we need to defend ourselves.’ Really? Is that a fucking serious position?” and I was like PREACH.

    • I just copy&pasted/quoted you on a similar discussion somewhere else on the interwebs. hope that was ok

  2. The thing that’s stuck with me since that awful NRA press conference was the morally simplistic framing of “good guys with guns” v. “bad guys with guns.” It’s like a toddler’s understanding of how the world works. The world can’t be divided up into such black and white categories.

    Also, when the NRA says “good guy,” they mean a very specific profile of a person. That person is a white male who holds some position of power and/or respect within the community.
    That person very often isn’t actually a “good guy” when it comes to treating people from marginalized communities (e.g. women, people of color, queer people) with basic human dignity. That person is George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin because he’s nervous around black people, or it’s Kenneth Moreno, the NYC cop who escorted a drunk woman from her cab to her apartment, and then later the same night, re-entered her apartment to rape her while she was passed out drunk, or it’s the police officers in my town who raided a house in the middle of the night last week, and reportedly beat a 13 year old boy while he was asleep in his bed, and handcuffed a 77 year old woman and held her at gun point. (link).

    I don’t want that kind of “good guy” to be in a building full of children with a gun.

  3. It’s weird, but in the UK we had one mass school shooting (Dunblane), and instead of putting armed guards in schools we tightened our gun control laws. There have been none since.

    America’s perspective on a lot of things seems weird to outsiders, but on this one 74% of the population appear to have genuinely lost their damn minds. How could putting more guns in schools POSSIBLY reduce school shootings?

    • I think there is a significant portion of that 74% who picture themselves as heroes from action movies – you know the kind of thing where the mild-mannered family man is suddenly threatened in his home or is just out at the park when some random stranger pulls a gun and starts shooting. Suddenly he springs into action, saving the day with improbably good aim, acrobatic leaps, ninja moves, and a well-timed explosion.

      Of course, more likely is that the more bullets fired and the more guns present will only result in more injuries and deaths among the innocent by-standers.

      I think to get any significant legislation passed on gun control, politicians and officials will have to find a way to re-assure Americans that it won’t be just the law-abiding types (you know, the Good Guy with a Gun) turning in their weapons. I lived in the UK (post Dunblane) and LOVED not ever having to think about getting shot, but I do wonder how getting illegal guns off the streets was handled. If they aren’t already registered and they’re owned by someone who is involved with organized crime or gangs, how do get people to give them up? Did the police have to find and confiscate all the guns?

      • Here is the problem, toomanybooks.

        You can’t legislate guns out of the hands of criminals; that’s what by definition makes them criminals. We have 20,000 gun laws in this country already and still gun crime is at an all time high, PARTICULARLY in the cities where the gun laws are the most restrictive. Have you ever taken a look at Chicago?

        Guns are outright banned in the UK, and yet have you checked the violent crime statistics there? I’m not talking about mass murders (because as it has been truthfully pointed out, those are a statistical anomaly) I’m talking about street crime; armed robbery, larceny, home invasion, cold blooded murder.

        The problem is, there will NEVER be a way to reassure Americans that they won’t be putting law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage. And whether you love or hate firearms you have to accept the fact that this country (and the UK, and Australia) is and always will be full of them.

        So what do you do? If you don’t trust guns in the hands of legally permitted civilians, and you can’t take the guns away from the criminals who can and will use them, what is the alternative?

        It’s easy to demand legislation to support restrictive policies when it’s being imposed on a culture you don’t understand and that you only hear about from the media, but I promise if you even just understood the mechanics of a gun, you’d probably be less afraid of it.

        Look, I’m not pushing for anyone to change their perspective on guns, you can love them or leave them, but I am and always have been extraordinarily uncomfortable with the idea that you can legislate your way out of any problem. If you can name even one thing the government has ever been able to successfully control (prohibition? illegal drugs?) without there being blood in the streets, I’m open to changing my mind.

        • England has fewer murders, but more physical assaults. A lot of which is because there are a lot of young guys who like getting into fights. Walking around Leicester on a Saturday night was comparatively a lot scarier than New York when I moved to the US. But in some ways that illustrates the point, because England doesn’t have fewer murders because the England is not a violent society, it’s actually a culture where having a go is very much part of it, but they don’t have the same access to guns. England with American gun access would have much higher murder rates. By the same token, America with English gun laws would I suspect have more punch ups, but fewer people getting shot dead.

        • I object to the idea that Australia being grouped i with the US and UK being ‘full of guns’
          It’s really quite hard to get your hands on one here, and you have to be a reasonably committed criminal to have the contacts to get your hands on one. (some amateur can’t just get hooked one one on a street corner so easily)
          People rarely get shot in home invasions. Bikies and gang members shoot each other, but rarely the general public.

        • It’s simply not true that a country will always be full of guns, any more than it’s true that gentlemen will always carry swords.

          We don’t have that same relationship with weapons here.
          And part of the difference is who holds the firearms, what type of weapons are in circulation and what they’re kept for.
          My uncle in Wales legally owns a gun for hunting, but it would be extremely unusual to find someone who owned a gun for protection.

          Our ‘cold-blooded murder’ is also significantly lower than yours, although rates of other crimes – like burglary – might be higher.

          But I feel safer knowing that if someone did break into the house they would be extremely unlikely to be armed, than I would feel assuming that they were armed but thinking I might have a chance to get my shot in first.

          First of all, I’d be a terrible shot. Especially in the dark, especially scared and sleepy and looking for my glasses.
          Also, I might kill them.

          If you can legally get your hands almost weapon you like, including assault-style riffles, then those who legally can’t will get their hands on them illegally.
          In this country, in the rare cases criminals carry guns, they’re often using adapted starter pistols and that sort of thing. It’s a world of difference.

          A few years ago, stranded during the riots, I walked through Peckham where I lived at the time. And for the first time since I’d moved there I thought I heard gunshots. But it was only fireworks!
          Even in Peckham- which has disgraceful rates of knife crime and an illegal gun trade- during a riot, I felt reasonably safe.

          If someone wanted to do me harm personally, they could find a way. But I’ll never be caught in the crossfire.

        • I should have clarified in my original comment, I am American, but I have spent several years living in countries with much stricter gun laws than the US, and I know which option I like better. I grew up in a semi-rural area where hunting was a way of life, although I never had any interest in participating myself.

          England, and maybe London (where I was based) in particular is far from a violence-free paradise, and there were definitely situations and areas that made me look over my shoulder. Fulton’s comments about fighting in British culture are important, and it was something I watched with particular interest and anxiety. However, it results in fewer fatalities than equivalent conflicts involving firearms, and significantly, it is much harder for innocent bystanders to be injured or killed from a fist fight than a stray bullet.

          I apologize if my comments about the action hero fantasy seems flippant. It’s just my frustration with comments like the one Riese quoted from the congressman about the school principal is reaching a boiling point. His is only the more public version of thoughts I have heard from friends and family alike.

          My question really is, as gun prohibition in England has largely worked, how was it implemented, particularly with regard to illegal weapons?

          • This, of course, is theoretical and ignores the 2nd amendment, which Britain didn’t have to deal with.

  4. My thoughts? An emphatic “duh” to all of this. What the fuck is wrong with people. Also, it terrifies me that teachers would be encouraged to carry guns. Do you know how stressed teachers are? A teacher had a psychotic break in the middle of my Grade 2 class after he picked up and shook a kid while reprimanding him in the corner. What would have happened if that teacher had a gun on him? I remember having classmates with severe anger problems that would throw desk a and chairs at other students and teachers. Would that justify a teacher to shoot? Would that student overpower the teacher, take the gun, and start shooting? Teachers aren’t immune from the same trigger-reflexes under stress as anyone else, nor are students only bringing their anger problems from home.

    • absolutely; human beings are not categorically good or bad guys, criminals or upstanding citizens. People change, or break down, or meet a situation that brings something new or hidden out in them, and then the person who’s supposed to be protecting people is the one committing violence.

  5. As a teacher, the thought of someone telling me to keep a gun in my classroom makes me physically ill. What the hell am I going to do with a gun? I’d just be worried that one of my kids would get to it and do something dumb. I teach middle school – they’ve been known to do stupid things at that age. I had to stop a kid from breathing into a plastic bag this week; he doesn’t even need to be near a gun to make unwittingly dangerous decisions.

    I am not any more comforted by suggestions that someone with training to use a gun be installed on campus. The fact is, mass shootings are rare. I value an environment that feels safe every day over one that reminds me of the incredibly unlikely but horrific possibility of mass violence.

    This whole line of thinking is just so upsetting.

    • I was waiting for teachers to weigh in on the debate. It seems like nobody has asked them what they believe would make their kids safer. Unfortunately this debate has turned ugly, and it isnt about making kids safer; its about people asking for laxer gun laws.

      I think as an elementary school student I would have been horrified to know that my kind, gentle, perfect teachers had ever held a gun (call me a sheltered 7 year old.) The reason children trust their teachers is because the teachers exude a feeling of complete peace and harmlessness, which is comforting. They may raise their voice or punish students for being bad, but they never harm anyone. Even if it’s an illusion for the childrens’ sake, it’s important to maintain the image of teachers as the safest people for children to be around (after the children’s own guardians). A gun in the classroom would shatter that image.

      • The one teacher I saw on the news who was asked about it was really pro-gun and wanted to bring guns to schools. (She was given as the “teacher POV” on MSNBC, of all places.) Okay, but I’d say at the very least from witnessing this conversation with my mother – a teacher – and her friends who are also teachers, the vast majority don’t want to have to learn how to use a gun in order to keep their jobs. Some of them are strongly anti-gun, for reasons that are just as deeply-felt – more, in some cases, I’d say – than the pro-gun feelings, and yet it’s always treated as though pro-gun arguments are more profound moral stances than anti-gun ones are, when these sorts of things come up.

        And if the NRA had their way – they more or less stated exactly this in a press conference – my mom and her friends’ reluctance to take guns to school mean they shouldn’t teach.

        Because yeah – we don’t have enough with problems in US schools with who gets/keeps teaching jobs being about things other than how well you teach. Let’s add another irrelevant factor into the mix.

  6. After the news of Atlanta’s arrest quotas (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/ex-officers-apd-had-arrest-quotas/nTwtX/) earlier this week, the idea of having MORE armed guards/police on school grounds makes me feel very nauseated. I went to a school where the armed guards were actual police officers.

    I’d be super interested in seeing studies on whether or not students attending schools w/armed guards actually feel more or less safe (with an emphasis on minority students). Similarly, I’d like to see which demographics of students stand the highest chance of being arrested.

  7. Here’s the thing, and this is what bothers me about the debate as it has been going on. I could give you a million reasons why ANY of this is an idiotic idea… but I ask you, what is the alternative that’s not going to lead to more expensive and unenforceable government regulation? No matter which side you stand on with regard to firearms, it’s a question that begs attention.

    Also Item 7 on this list is spot on in its thesis and is extremely important. Not every joe can or should carry a gun. But just as a point of clarification, no one is insisting that teachers be forced to carry weapons into school. It’s simply a matter of lifting the restriction on teachers being allowed to carry in schools. So therefore if you are a teacher with a CCW permit you can carry at work, or if you would like to receive proper training and get a CCW permit, you may. And if you’re not interested, not ready or not willing, then you have no obligation to do so.

    With that being the case you may have a school in which all teachers are carrying or no teachers are carrying, but I guarantee the knowledge that anywhere between 0 and 100% of the school’s teachers may or may not have a firearm on them, your garden variety psychopath might think twice about entering a school with murderous intent. This is what I understand to be the thought process behind the proposal, anyway.

    And for the record, no. A teacher would not be justified in shooting a student who throws a desk.

    • Yes!!! This is exactly the reasoning. Not that evey single teacher should carry a gun even if they are afraid of them; it is that people with their CCW permit can legally bring their weapons to work. In order to obtain such a liscence one must go through classes and take tests. It is in no way forcing people operate equipment they don’t understand or don’t agree with or are afraid of.

      As for the rest of it, maybe It’s just me but the thought of more law abiding people carrying guns most definitely makes me feel safer and not more threatened in the least.

      • “Not that evey single teacher should carry a gun even if they are afraid of them; it is that people with their CCW permit can legally bring their weapons to work. ”

        Actually, the NRA said in a press conference that teachers who don’t want to bring guns to school, shouldn’t teach. No one’s extrapolating here. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THEY SAID.

    • With that logic, no “lunatic” would ever risk bringing a gun anywhere because of the potential that someone would have a concealed weapon for self-defense. We all know how full of shit that argument is because, hello, reality.

      • As it stands, we have things called Federal Gun Free Zones. These places have signs posted at the entrance saying no citizen is legally allowed to carry their weapon on these premises. In most states it is illegal to even drive your car onto the property if there is a gun in the vehicle. Gun Free Zones include hospitals, schools, movie theaters. In recent memory, can you think of any mass shootings that have occurred in these places?

        In fact, over the last fifty years, with only one single exception (Gabby Giffords), every single mass shooting event with more than four casualties has taken place in a place where guns were supposedly not allowed.

        You’re right, it isn’t going to stop every lunatic from taking a gun somewhere with harmful intent. But the idea of being met with armed resistance would GREATLY REDUCE the Dylan Klebolds, the Adam Lanzas of the world making their statements in such a way, shooting up a school and instantly going from disaffected loser to most famous person in the world (thanks, media.)

        Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people. Period.

        • I think you’re being naive in thinking that people who commit mass shootings would be deterred by anything. There was that horrific shooting at an army base a few years ago; Riese has pointed out that some of the schools that were the locations for mass shootings had armed guards. Your filter of reality is skewed by the fantastical notion that there even is a notion of Good Guys vs Bad Guys. I’m pretty sure every mass shooter was originally considered a Good Guy until he pulled out his guns and mowed people down.

          • First of all; what is it about your world experience that leads you to believe that there is no good vs. evil? If there is no good or bad, then what is there?

            And just FYI, army bases are also Gun Free Zones. You are not allowed to carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, on Federal property. The place he shot, the Soldier Support Center, an administrative processing building, has a sign posted out front that says no weapons allowed. None of the people inside were armed, and there is little to no security there. None of the soldiers were carrying a weapon, nor are they allowed to, which this guy KNEW because he WORKED there.

            So how do we deter mass shooters, then, based on your current worldview? If you think nothing is going to stop a mass shooter, then why are we even talking about gun control?
            There is no federal legislation that will ever keep guns out of the hands of killers, any more than they have been able to keep illegal drugs out of the hands of addicts, no more than they were able to ban alcohol in the 20’s.

            So tell me your alternative? What is your reality?

          • I don’t believe anything about people can be lumped into a binary of Good/Evil, period. People are complex. People are emotional. People are stressed. People undergo problems and troubled periods in their life. The reasons that mass shooters exist is not simply because they’re evil; it’s because a culmination of factors brewed into someone who deluded themselves into a horrifically dangerous action. My experience in the world has taught me that nothing can be broken down into two categories, ever.

            My alternative? I’m not even thinking about “how do we stop criminals from accessing guns”, it’s “how do we reduce the fatalities of innocent people from guns”. And gun control does just that. It limits the exposure of people caught in the crossfire of a semiautomatic gun that doesn’t stop after one trigger-pull. It limits the exposure of toddlers stumbling upon loaded pistols in their own homes and playing with them. It limits the toxic trigger-happy mentality that so many Americans have in order to solve their problems. Someone outside prowling? Get a loud alarm system to deter them since you don’t need that machine gun tucked under your pillow because ultimately any life that is snuffed out by a gun is a preventable death, regardless of the justifications of the shooter.

          • Beautifully put, particularly the part about the ‘toxic trigger-happy mentality.’ I’d +1 it if I could login to my account.

          • The binary thinking here and dangers of it are precisely why I find it troubling that so many gun owners want to propose mental health fixes as the ONLY fix to the mass shooting problem. Not that we shouldn’t have a better mental health system, and more access to screenings and such wouldn’t help to keep some people from purchasing weapons, or get them the help they need before they go off the deep end into deciding violence is the answer. But there’s a problem with assuming that mental illness is the only reason one would go on a rampage, and the dividing of everyone into binary of “the sane” and “the mentally ill” that a lot of these arguments have at their core.

            First of all, it’s simply not true. There are many cases of violent acts committed by people with clean bills of mental health who were under the sway of religious or political extremism, or in love with someone who wanted them to commit violence. Being “sane” doesn’t mean you are immune to brainwashing, especially when it’s done under the sway of love or of religious ecstasy (both of which have been shown in some studies to have effects on the brain similar to certain drugs).

            Second of all, people with mental health issues or disabilities are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. And “mental illness” is a wide spectrum – ranging from mild anxiety or depression to severe schizophrenia – where most have nothing to do with violence. But seeing “mental health” as the reason behind mass killings and perpetuating an us vs. them mentality against people with certain mental illnesses could do a lot to undermine so much of the progress we’ve made in the past century with disability rights – with protecting the most fundamental human rights of people who have mental differences or disabilities, far more fundamental than the “right” to own any gun you want.

            Maybe I’m a bit touchy because I have Aspergers, the thing that Adam Lanza supposed has, and there are idiots on TV news shows theorizing that that might have contributed to the killing because it means you “lack empathy.” That’s not true, by the way; the misconception is because Aspies aren’t always the great at expressing it or understanding socially-appropriate emotional responses, but they still feel it. But when you say a group of people lacks something considered as fundamentally human as “empathy,” it’s not that far of a leap for people to stop thinking of them as human at all, especially if they think restricting their human rights is necessary to keep their children safe. But there’s no connection between Aspergers and a greater proclivity for violence whatsoever.

          • And I realize that that comment probably seemed like a bit of a non-sequitur. My point is, the binary thinking that causes people to divide humanity into “good” and “bad” categories is precisely what causes them to turn on an entire group of people because of one member of that group.

            No one’s saying that morality is completely relative, but rather that, save the Hitlers of the world, most people are complex. And most killers have a motive. This isn’t a superhero movie where we have card-carrying villains who just like to fuck shit up for no reason.

            As the Vlogbrothers taught me, imagining people complexly is usually the solution to these situations.

          • I see what you’re saying, and you do have a point. There’s always room for error, always room for someone to do something they would never have thought themselves capable of.

            I guess the meat of my issue is that this whole gun control push as it is right now, eschews logic and reason. Obama’s current policy prescriptions are grounded in what’s politically popular rather than what would effectively address the problem of gun violence. Obama repeatedly called for a ban on “military-style assault weapons.” This is not actual class of weapons — this a catch all term for any gun which sounds scary.

            The 1994 assault weapons ban didn’t have a real definition of assault weapon. The law listed a bunch of guns that would be illegal and then laid out a bunhc of arbitrary criteria for what could make a gun an “assault weapon.” The qualifications were mostly cosmetic: A rifle could become illegal if you added a flash suppressor; it could become legal if you removed a barrel shroud. Most of the criteria were so silly that they became a huge joke to gun owners, except of course, for that part where many law abiding citizens accidentally became instant felons because one of their guns had some cosmetic feature which was now illegal. Not to mention the fact that none of these features actually made the gun functionally any different or somehow more lethal or better from any other run of the mill firearm. Plus this ban did absolutely NOTHING to curb gun violence.

            Semi-automatic handguns (for the record, what you referred to as ‘not stopping after one trigger pull’ is a fully automatic weapon, which is already illegal) are not under fire by the government here, because they don’t look as scary. The ban being proposed today would not solve the problem of gun violence in the streets, of pedestrians caught in the crossfire, of children accidentally discharging a loaded pistol in their home (there are other ways to prevent that, but this is another argument entirely.)

            The president, surrounded by a gaggle of cute children to drive his point home, Seeks a policy – a ban on so-called assault weapons (none of which, as it turns out, were actually used at Sandy Hook) which has near zero correlation to the problem he claims to be addressing. It is instead a rhetorical ploy based on aspersions and popular fears. In other words, it’s politics as usual. So why would Obama, if he were honestly invested in saving “only one life,” be so vehemently in favor of a tired proposal that his been time and again proven ineffective? I have an idea, but what do you think?

          • “I guess the meat of my issue is that this whole gun control push as it is right now, eschews logic and reason. ”

            It’s based on what HAS worked in other countries. Logic and reason would, in fact, dictate that it might at least reduce it here.

            What isn’t based on logic and reason? The continued assertion from gun advocates that more people having guns would make us safer, in spite of the fact that statistics show that having a gun at home is more likely to result in an accidental death or suicide than in stopping a burglar. (And it’s also based on a version of “us” that excludes a lot of people – namely, poor people and people of color.)

            Just because someone uses emotional appeals like little kids doesn’t mean their facts are wrong. And I’d say nothing in the gun debate falls more under the definition of “empty emotional appeals” than the pro-gun lobby playing into people’s vigilante fantasies…

    • I work in a school, and if anyone at that school had a weapon, I would feel less safe. No ifs, ands or buts. And as the commenter sasha pointed out,

      “when the NRA says “good guy,” they mean a very specific profile of a person…
      That person is George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin because he’s nervous around black people, or it’s Kenneth Moreno, the NYC cop who escorted a drunk woman from her cab to her apartment, and then later the same night, re-entered her apartment to rape her…”

      Working at a school does not make you a good guy, and being responsible for the well-being of young people does not make you a good guy. [I don’t agree with police officers being armed, for the same reason.] I would honestly probably leave my job rather than work in a place where people could be carrying guns. How many teachers and other support staff would feel the same way?

      I live in Britain but I lived in Florida for 8 years. I went to a school where no-one would dream of ever seeing a gun on campus and one where there were at least 4 uniformed sheriff officers stationed on campus. I never checked whether they had guns because I never got that close, and I’m not sure what the rules are surrounding that, but they certainly didn’t give me any positive feelings. I heard many stories of them harassing students, and zero stories of them helping students or dealing with unauthorised visitors. I would not have worked in a school with that sort of law enforcement presence.

      • Another reason I don’t always trust law enforcement, nor idiots like George Zimmerman with the vigilante mentality. Those guys do exist, though their numbers are a lot smaller than the television would have you believe. We don’t live in a perfect society and we can’t create one. However don’t you think the majority of people can be trusted? Or do you think that we are idiots all, only to be taken care of by the hand of the government? And then I ask you.. those people in power, did they not come from the same society as we? What grants them such knowledge of what’s good for all of us? And if, as you imply, law enforcement is corrupt, then to whom would you grant the power of protection?

      • My school’s campus guards were pretty incompetent as well; I wonder if that’s just where the worst police officers go? They’d let every schmuck on campus in through the main entrance, and we’d have someone who didn’t belong there litter the library computers with porn or steal a student’s musical instrument, and then they’d blame students for not knowing who every single person who might belong on campus was when we used the card entrance. Meanwhile, according to some of my friends, they looked at every Black or Hispanic student with automatic suspicion.

        They also were totally incompetent with picking students up with the campus van at night, making us wait 30 minutes to an hour or more. In downtown Baltimore.

        Yeah, my campus police officers were definitely not making students safer. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  8. I won’t say I’m anti-gun because I’m not, and I’m more or less fine with how we handle guns here in Canada. That is to say, I’m cool with people owning long guns like rifles and such… though if I had my way I’d probably make it more difficult for those living in cities to own them; the rest of this country is still untamed wilderness, though.

    I really don’t understand the position taken by the NRA etc, though… what on earth does one need a fully automatic assault rifle for, for example? If you were to take that hunting… what would be left of the bag, half an antler, a few feathers?

    Re point 5: sure, the gun violence rates have gone down… but the rates of knife and other violence have gone up since?

    • People are going to be violent, regardless of the weapons available. The difference is that it’s much harder to fend off and survive multiple gun shots versus a knife attack or fisticuffs. It’s the immediate fatality offered by a gun that’s the issue, not the violent tendencies.

    • Just to correct you on one thing…fully automatic assault rifles are banned. Semi-automatic rifles are when you fire a bullet, another round automatically gets cycled into the chamber, eliminating the need for manual reload and so that you can easily fire another bullet before the deer gets away. I know plenty of people who take them hunting. Plus they are fun to shoot.

      But beyond that, the 2nd amendment is not about hunting. It’s a constitutional right to self-defense and that being the case the government should have no more say in that than what I choose to post on my facebook wall, or what religion I want to be, so long as I am a legally permitted, law abiding citizen. No, you don’t NEED an AR-15, but you also don’t need a ferrari, you don’t need a Ford F-350 with a 10-inch lift and monster truck tires, but the bedrock of the issue is that if the government came for your vehicle, you’d probably have something to say about it. Right?

      • You may well be right. Not sure what else I can say to that…

        For my part, though, for all its issues, I think I feel better about, and safer with, having a Royal Canadian Mounted Police than a 2nd Amendment.

        • I’ve never been to Canada, but I’m glad you are able to feel that way. People should feel safe in whatever way they can. But cops can’t be everywhere. There are at best only a couple hundred thousand on duty at any given time patrolling the entire country (It may be different in Canada.) And any honest cop will tell you that when seconds count, they are only minutes away. I hope to God I never have to discharge my weapon but my sense of safety comes from knowing that it’s there.

      • but a ferrari isn’t more likely to kill people than a taurus, and a ferrari gets you from one place to another. it has a purpose that it fulfills, and it’s the same purpose other cars fulfill. there’s no reason for anybody to own a semi-automatic assault rifle (which can be easily modified into an automatic) that sprays bullets into groups of people and is actually really poor for any other purpose besides trying to kill a lot of people at the same time, as it’s impossible to accurately aim at a target

        • Yeah, I doubt this claim of “I know people who use them for hunting” because just about everyone I know IRL who is into guns – and I know a lot, since I’m from Michigan, after all – has told me the exact opposite. The gun owners I’ve known who own semi-automatics own them because a) they believe it will aid them in self-defense, b) they are gun hobbyists or c) they were in the police/military or inherited the guns from a relative who was.

          And every one of them who wasn’t completely stupid kept their gun unloaded and their ammo far, FAR away from the gun even if their kids were trained in gun safety, because they knew how unpredictable those things were. Definitely NOT the sort of thing you take on a routine hunting trip.

          • Yeah, I don’t buy that either. Nobody seems to need such guns in Canada for hunting… mind, we have plenty of people here who go hunting with bows instead of guns, too, so.

            My father did his national service in the Hungarian army before escaping in 1975, and he told me a story about an attempt one time at hunting with an AK. tl;dr form of the story was “well… that didn’t work.”

        • btw I’m replying to you riese because I’m agreeing with you, the claim I’m doubting is the one from TK.

          just in case that wasn’t clear.

    • And hey Xenia, if I came off as aggressive in that last post I didn’t mean to. But the media and people are promoting this patently untrue idea that the 2nd amendment exists to protect hunters. It doesn’t, it exists to protect you.

      Paper0Flowers is right, people with violent tendencies are going to be violent regardless of the means; all the more reason not to strip the law abiding citizens of their right to self defense. It is the instant-ness of the firearm that makes it such a great self-defense tool. If you’re going to stop a rapist, for example, do you want to wait for him with a knife or stop him before he has a chance to lay his hands on you? I tell you if he is close enough for you to penetrate him with a blade… well, you get the idea.

      • It honestly terrifies me how casually you talk about killing people, even if it’s in self-defense.

        • I think this is part of the problem. When you start devaluing life to this extent, having a gun and being prepared to kill someone don’t seem like such a big deal. Movies and TV shows glamorise “heroes” who kill “the baddies” and face no consequences; rap and other music cultures celebrate violence as a way to prove one’s masculinity and frequent references to injuring or killing enemies or competitors desensitise people to the effects that violent crime has on the friends and family of the victim. Guns require so little emotional commitment to kill, and it’s so easy for things to go wrong.

          I’m so sick of guns (and violence in general) being seen as “tough” or “cool” or synonymous with manliness or dominance. In my mind, they are synonymous with brute force and ignorance.

          • Oh, listen, make no mistake. Just because you have a gun does NOT give you the right to kill someone. Carrying a weapon is a tremendous responsibility that should not be taken lightly by anyone, and if you’re going to parade around with your bravado showing off your weapon then you should not be carrying one. It is exactly as you say: it is easy for things to go wrong. Gun safety is of utmost importance. ALWAYS treat a gun as if it is loaded, even if you unloaded it yourself. NEVER point the muzzle of a gun at anyone, even if the magazine is out, the slide is back, and there are no bullets in sight. NEVER place your finger on the trigger of a gun unless you are pointed at a target and ready to shoot. Every lawful gun owner knows this. No lawful gun owner *wants* to kill anyone, and no reasonable, lawful gun owner would EVER treat a gun as a toy.

            You don’t carry a gun to “look cool.” You are not Wyatt Earp. In reality if you carry concealed, no one should ever know you have a gun. That’s why they call it concealed. In North Carolina at least, where I live, even brandishing your weapon is a felony unless you are within your legal right to fire it. You guys think gun owners just go waving their guns around and hollering because they can. That is how people get killed. That’s how that idiot kid in Florida or wherever ended up getting shot in the head by his sister; because they were playing around taking photos of themselves pointing the gun at each other. It’s utterly moronic.

            The idea that having a gun means you like to shoot people…. that’s a ridiculous notion, and it comes from cinema. Not real life.

          • Thanks for the gun safety lesson. If I ever reach the state of fear, paranoia, or low self-esteem that I need to get a gun, I’ll remember all that.

          • Message received, UL. But you know, before your outright dismissal of an alternate worldview being somehow morally or intellectually inferior, I would think you might at least try to gain some more nuanced understanding. As a queer person or ally you might have some familiarity with this concept. I think if you actually had a conversation with a gun owner you may realize that the items you listed are crass generalizations none of which have anything to do with their rationale, but again. Thanks for your opinion.

          • Message received, UL. But you know, before your outright dismissal of an alternate worldview as being somehow morally or intellectually inferior, I would think you might at least try to gain some more nuanced understanding. As a queer person or ally you might have some familiarity with this concept. I think if you actually had a conversation with a gun owner you may realize that the items you listed are crass generalizations none of which have anything to do with their rationale, but again. Thanks for your opinion.

          • From my own perspective, those are the only reasons that I would ever get a gun. From the way that you are reacting to the discussion on this topic, I would guess that firearms play a vital part in your identity and sense of self, and a threat to your right to own firearms is a threat to your very being. You have my sympathy.

          • TK, you see the world as divided into Good People and Evil People, and you’re really going to lecture other people about “nuance”?

          • Rose, I never said I saw the world as divided into Good People and Evil People, I have simply acknowledged that evil exists. We don’t live in a utopia. I don’t see what’s so difficult about this.

          • The way you’re talking about “evil existing” is as though we need guns to protect us from Bad Guys. That would suggest you think there are good and evil people. The point is that there isn’t, and that simply taking guns out of the hands of “evil people” won’t work because it’s based on a summation of people’s characters that doesn’t have any reflection in real life – or in the reasons why people go on gun massacres.

        • It honestly terrifies me how the mild-mannered Lanzas of the world can walk into an Elementary school and kill children. It’s called evil, and it exists.

      • Uh… I’m not sure I’m understanding this right, TK.

        “If you’re going to stop a rapist, for example, do you want to wait for him with a knife or stop him before he has a chance to lay his hands on you? I tell you if he is close enough for you to penetrate him with a blade… well, you get the idea.”

        If he’s at a range that you need to be shooting, how can you be 10000% certain what his intent is? For all you know, he might well just be a bit tipsy and wanting a light…

        Me personally? Yeah, I’d rather have a knife, and avoid being charged with murder.

        • perhaps I relied too much on hyperbole to further my point in that last comment. You’re absolutely right, Xenia, and I am of course not advocating wantonly shooting anyone you deem a threat. If I came across that way I admit fault.

    • The second amendment has been bastardized over the years. How it originally read vs how its touted today differ greatly. The key point in the second amendment reads: “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.” In 1783-9 ‘Militia’ meant a well regulated body of men under the leadership of such as Geo. Washington who succeeded in defeating the English whose Officers surrendered to him at York. Victory was won by patriots with firearms meant to provide food for their families; they are the men to whom “the right of the People is given to keep and bear arms; a right that shall not be infringed.” Individuals do not constitute a well regulated body, and so-called “militias” of today exist and operate subversively with the object of attacking, rather than protecting our free State. Those who originally framed and drafted the Constitution were using muzzle loaded rifles and could never have conceived of a semi automatic weapons with 30, 90 or even 100 round clips. The Constitution was framed as a living breathing document. The founders knew that it would grow and change as our Country did. They understood that things would need to be revisited and amended periodically. Other amendments have been added. No one is looking to void anyone’s second amendment rights. But the time for more controls has come.

      • Control is problematic. It’s a panacea; a comforting thought that I could outsource my responsibility to someone else and then I can get mad at them when they fail to protect me. It’s easy to support some implementation of control – sure, it SOUNDS reasonable that we shouldn’t need 30 round magazines – but it always SOUNDS reasonable. Where is the line, and how can we trust elected officials to know that line and know when to stop?

        There is an Arab proverb that says, “Don’t let the camel stick his nose into the tent, because soon the entire camel will be inside the tent.” One thing after another “sounds reasonable,” then suddenly you are living in a society with an enormous government that controls every aspect of your life.

        The bottom line is our right to bear arms is a constitutional right, and the MINUTE we give government the power to overturn any one constitutional right, then the levee breaks. Regardless of its effectiveness in practice, I will always believe in the 2nd Amendment as a principle – the principle that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is an extension of our natural right to self-defense, one of many natural rights which are innate are not subject to the will of those in government. I will also always believe in the 2nd Amendment for what it implies about the relationship between the government and the governed – that the government has no inherent sovereignty, and the people who give the government its power have the right to take away that power should it become abusive. At the end of the day, I believe the 2nd Amendment’s most important purpose is to remind us that government exists to safeguard our individual liberties, not to control them.

        • Ah yes, the “slippery slope” argument. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy into that. Fact is, The argument that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to own and carry a gun for self-defense, rather than the people’s right to form militias for the common defense, first became an issue in the wake of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and only gained prominence in the nineteen-seventies. Prior to that, the Second Amendment was largely ignored both legally and politically. Then in the 80’s, Orrin Hatch commissioned a history of the Second Amendment, resulting in a 1982 report, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” which concluded, “What the Subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.” (See Dad, I was listening!)

          Further, An important statement of what is generally referred to as the collective-rights interpretation—the idea that what the Second Amendment protects is the people’s collective right to keep and bear arms to form militias for the common defense—is an amicus curiae submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller, signed by fifteen eminent university professors of early American history, including Pauline Maier, Fred Anderson, and Pulitzer Prizes winners Jack Rakove and Alan Taylor. It concludes:

          Historians are often asked what the Founders would think about various aspects of contemporary life. Such questions can be tricky to answer. But as historians of the Revolutionary era we are confident at least of this: that the authors of the Second Amendment would be flabbergasted to learn that in endorsing the republican principle of a well-regulated militia, they were also precluding restrictions on such potentially dangerous property as firearms, which governments had always regulated when there was “real danger of public injury from individuals.”

          I’m going to have to side with the historians and the Pulitzer winners on this one.

          • You’re basically saying here the 2nd amendment is somehow outdated, correct? Look up District of Columbia v. Heller.

            “‘The prefatory clause “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” merely announces a purpose. It does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

            Here’s the full case summary. http://www.lawnix.com/cases/dc-heller.html

          • It doesn’t matter, Rose. Supreme Court decisions are timeless, that is the point. Roe v. Wade is from 1973; does that mean judicial review is in order to make sure all of America’s abortion clinics are still legally operable? Was Brown v. the Board of Education invalidated in 1955 because its findings were too “modern?”

          • I understand how the Supreme Court works, yes.

            But a Supreme Court decision from 2008 doesn’t dispute Digger’s point that this particular interpretation of the Second Amendment has only been around since the 1980s.

          • In other words, you can’t take a strict-constructionist, “what the Founders intended” argument and then, when someone shows you that your arguments don’t hold up under the parameters YOU SET UP, tell them they’re only saying that because they don’t get how judicial review works.

            You have to pick one: either modern interpretations are just as valid (which is how I tend to think, anyway), or it’s all about what the Founders supposedly intended. You can’t talk out of two sides of your mouth.

        • But which interpretation of the Second Amendment is it that you consider important? The paranoid, hysterical version peddled by the NRA et al., where every man and woman needs to arm themselves for the inevitable day when the US government turns on the people and becomes a totalitarian regime? Given how slowly legislative reform progresses, it seems extremely unlikely to me that the US government would be able to pass the kinds of laws required unless there was a political coup. Given the availability of weapons, I’d say it’s more likely that a group of armed political extremists staged a military coup and took over the White House.

          IMHO, the Second Amendment is like the Bible: a document of its time, with little to no relevance in today’s society.

          • Ah ha! I’m excited, the philosophical part is my favorite. I don’t disagree at all in principle with anything you’re saying, and I hope that, from my pro-gun pedestal, I haven’t painted myself as a doomsday prepper. I have to ask, with which of my points do you not agree? With the contention that the right to bear arms is an extension of our right to self-defense, or the contention that the right to bear arms keeps (symbolically, if not functionally) government power in check? Perhaps I oversold the latter as the meat of my argument. I apologize. I do think the historical association of firearms with resistance to tyranny and oppression is worth noting, and cannot be casually dismissed in an argument on the 2nd amendment, regardless of how effective said firearms might be today. But I’m also in favor of the idea that democratic institutions and a society that believes in classical liberal principles is the ideal defense against tyranny, and I absolutely believe that the strength and distribution of ideas is the most important agent of lasting change. However I don’t see that and owning firearms as being mutually exclusive.

            Out of curiosity, why do you think the 2nd amendment was included in the Constitution if not for self-defense? Perhaps our different opinions stem from differing ideas of what constitutes the self, in this case, and of what we might need to defend against.

          • Uh, the 2nd Amendment was included because contextually, it dealt with having an unofficial army of new Americans defend themselves against invaders. It had nothing to do with carrying a gun just in case some asshole steals your parking spot.

          • Yeah, this… I’ve always had the impression that was all about a sort of paranoia that the Empire would try to reclaim the lost territories…

          • If that’s what you really think about why people carry guns, we’ve reached an impasse. Be sure to go back and thank your school teacher for a job well done.

          • I’m interested to know why you have guns and why you think that people should be allowed to carry them. I’m not interested in your interpretation of the Second Amendment, because having the right to do something doesn’t mean that you *should* do it.

          • As more states joined the union, “militias” were often called “slave patrols”. Lest we forget, the second amendment was added years after the initial drafting of the Constitution, and there is evidence to support the suggestion that it was enacted in part to prevent a slave uprising.

          • I just think it’s a bit delusional to imagine that owning any kind of gun would allow an individual, or even an individual and his band of armed friends, to be able to stand up to an american-government-turned-tyrannical at this historical juncture. Even if an armed citizenry were able to somehow beat the US military, armed revolutions are always in danger of becoming a new form of authoritarian rule. Look at the extremists who are taking over the revolution in Syria today, since it has become about men with guns, rather than mass protest; I sympathize with the Syrians’ turn to armed conflict because of Assad’s unrelenting brutality, but I don’t think it’s going to end well. Compare and contrast Mandela and Mugabe. Collective organizing, courageous journalism, international solidarity, and large-scale protest strategies that change minds and move hearts are what fight tyranny best. Meanwhile, we aren’t facing that kind of authoritarianism here, despite what the nutters on the right say about Obama; what genuinely threatens our democracy is the power of corporations and billionaires to influence politics, and the undermining of the rule of law in the name of the war on terror. We can’t fight those things with guns, but we can get to work fighting them in other ways.

          • Wait… please tell me you’re not saying Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe are comparable, the Robert Mugabe who said “let me be a Hitler tenfold” and who thinks queers are “worse than dogs”?

          • I think b was inviting people to compare Mandela to Mugabe, not saying that the two were similar in any way.

  9. i see it as being analogous to a nuclear arms race. if both sides amp up and a single stupid decision is made, everybody loses.

  10. I suppose the proposed armed guards will come from private companies. Chances are that regular training will not be a part of the equation, because costs. Also they won’t be paid a whole lot, because profit. Chances are also likely that guards will have all sorts of crazy deductions from their salaries like uniforms, and weapons leaving them with very little money to survive on. So, why not use the weapons to make money some other way, like say, armed robberies? It may not happen every time, and some companies are better than others, but this is how I came to be held up for an hour and a half by the armed guards at the place I used to work at, and I learned these things while I was tied up and beaten up, but luckily not shot. It was a decidedly unfun experience, but if I had a weapon of my own in that situation I would most certainly not have survived it.

  11. I knew the gun control debate was going to start a shitstorm. (Let me be clear. I am not anti-gun. I own them. As in plural. I’d say “Don’t tell my Mom”, but it was her suggestion that Dad give me his before they moved all those years ago.) I knew several key components of the gun control proposals would be hotly debated, but really, we can’t agree on background checks? Doesn’t everybody want to know that we aren’t handing a gun to any Tom, Dick or Charlie Manson that shows up at a gun show with a wallet and a penchant for mass murder? That would actually make me feel a wee bit safer than my Iver Johnson hammerless or my 20 gauge. (yes 20, I’m a girl ok!) And how about that whole 10 round max in a clip? Who, outside of military or law enforcement, needs a 30 clip? If you need 30 bullets to hit your mark, you really shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. (Just sayin’) 
    It’s completely ridiculous for advocates of unrestricted gun sales to suggest that arming teachers and security guards, and posting law enforcement personnel in every public setting, is the answer. The fact is that it saddens me that such suggestions have gained traction among the gun lobby and its supporters.
    Don’t give me that “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” shit. Or tell me how criminals will always find a way. Background checks will help. Limiting ammo clips will help. 
    Americans need to feel safe again. We need to know that we can send our children to school safely without fearing random acts of violence that could bring about their death or injury. We should be able to attend a movie in a public theater complex without the risk that some disturbed individual is going to shoot up the place with no particular target in mind. 

    This concludes this mornings rant

    • Magazine, not clip. Clips are used to load magazines, magazines go in the weapon. And the 30 rounds is because one shot rarely stops someone, despite what movies show. And in a shooting situation, you want more ammo before a reload, not less. You don’t want to be reloading when you are being shot at.

      Also, you can miss when the adrenaline is pumping. You would be amazed how fast 30 rounds goes. My first firefight it went pretty quick, and that was semi auto. You might have multiple attackers, a large musclebound ex con trying to rape your wife that needs several rounds to stop, might need rounds for suppression effects, the list goes on.

      The reason it’s 30 and not more is high capacity magazines exist, but they are heavy, bulky, and make the weapon slow to aim and respond quickly, also, you don’t want to carry the thing on a 20 mile march when it has 3 boxes of ammo in one magazine.

      And I agree with the 20 gauge. It has a lot less recoil and still plenty of power. It’s my personal choice if anyone asks for a home defense shotgun, and I have 25 years of shooting experience, a tour overseas, and about 30k of my own money spent on private firearms training courses.

      I’m also a tall, slim femboy that doesn’t like 12 gauge recoil, I can handle it with buckshot, but I don’t like the slow followup from the recoil unless it is out of a good semi auto defense shotgun like a Remington Versamax, which tames recoil somewhat. You don’t want excessive recoil when 3 crackheads are trying to kick your door in.

  12. I’m not very good at maths, but for me, the equation here seems to be:

    More guns = more bullets = more chance of a bullet missing your target = more chance of innocent bystanders getting hit = more deaths.

  13. You know, the more I think about this, the more I start to realise something.

    There are countries with fairly high rates of gun ownership that don’t have near as much gun violence. Finland and Switzerland are the immediately obvious examples, but Canadians have plenty of guns, too, and things aren’t as bad here as south of the 49th.

    So what I’m starting to realise is that it’s a cultural thing. The US is culturally much more violent than Canada is (probably due to the US having a ‘wild west’, whereas we didn’t, because first we sent the Mounties in, and /then/ we sent the colonists in…).

    So maybe until there’s some fundamental change in American society, I’m not sure laws will be *that* effective…

    • You are absolutely right. Do you know what, I can point to a single entity for the out-of-control culture of gun violence in this country: The Media. I’ll say it again. THE MEDIA.

      It is so easy to become famous in this country for doing absolutely nothing. YouTube stars, reality shows centered solely around the lives of people who live in excess (but why do you NEED three Escalades?) etc. etc. etc.

      So then put yourselves in the shoes of one of these killers. Statistically speaking you are probably on some form of psychotropic drug and have been for many years, probably during your formative years so your decision making abilities are flawed. You are disaffected, have been bullied, and have a lot of emotional problems. You are delusional. You see yourself as a victim and want to strike back at your peer group. You want to make a statement and show the world you aren’t a loser. You want to make us understand your pain. You want to make us realize you are powerful. The solution is easy.

      If you can kill enough people at one time, you’ll be on the news, 24/7, round the clock coverage. You will become the most famous person in the world. Everyone will know your name. You become a celebrity. Experts will try to understand what you were thinking. The President of the United States, the most important man in the world, will drop whatever he is doing and hold a press conference to talk about your actions, and he might even shed a tear over it.

      You are a star.

      Every time there is a mass shooting event, the vultures launch. It’s the same thing every time, and it’s fascinating. A bunch of people get murdered, and the usual suspects show up with the same tired proposals that we’ve either tried before or logic tells us simply will not work. And everyone goes home at night knowing the name of the new most famous man in America. Dylan Klebold. Eric Harris. James Holmes. Adam Lanza. The list goes on.

      So until there is THAT fundamental change in America, nothing will change with regard to gun violence, and people will look to the government to legislate away their problems, and meanwhile the next disaffected lonely loser sits in the shadows taking notes. And if he can’t get his hands on a gun, he’ll be studying explosives.

    • Cultural problems are a lot harder to fix. And just because it’s a cultural issue doesn’t mean it can’t be alleviated somewhat by gun restrictions.

      Yeah, sure, there are other countries with comparable rates of gun ownership that don’t have mass shootings. But can you provide examples of countries that DO have comparable levels of gun restrictions that have as many gun deaths as the U.S.?


      Most of our violent cultural products, like films and video games, get exported around the world. Hell, a huge chunk of popular video games don’t come form the U.S., they come from Japan. And Japan has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. Do the violent video games “undo” the effects of those restrictions? Nope, they have about two gun deaths per year.

      Gun control works.

      • It’s also worth noting that fixing “cultural problems” like violent movies and video games would probably involve a massive weakening of the First Amendment – much more fundamental and wide-reaching than anything that Obama’s proposed restrictions would do to the Second Amendment.

      • Also by “DO have comparable levels of gun restrictions” I meant “DO have HIGHER levels of gun restrictions” – comparable to the UK or Australia or other countries mentioned here, not the United States.

        Can you tell I wrote all these late at night last night?

  14. The thing that possibly makes me the most angry in all of this is that the only reason this shooting got so much media attention is because it took place against middle class white kids. School shooting that take dozens of lives happen all the time in poor neighborhoods, but they don’t get the same media attention. So basically the message is that middle class white kids have a right to be safe, but poor kids of color dont?

    I used to be a teacher in a low income school outside DC and had to face the possibility that a shooter would walk in with a gun. I had to decide what I would do in that situation. We did have a lot of violence at my school, and in the area. I had students die, I had students go to prison. Where was the media then?

    • Sarah you make such an excellent point, and this is something I was talking about with a friend just the other day. Do you want to know why the media is all over Connecticut and nowhere near DC? Besides the fact that mass murder is a sensational news story. The reason is this: the Liberal media has no interest in urban gun violence.

      Look at Chicago. The teenage death rate by virtue of guns in Chicago is dwarfing what happened at Newtown. Like 500 kids a year, minimum. Where is the media? Where are the cute children writing letters from Chicago? Does anybody care if it does not happen somewhere in the Northeast? Does nobody care if it’s black-on-black crime? If white people were shooting the black kids in Chicago, would the media be there? I have no doubt that the media’s not focusing on Chicago because it’s the birthright of the Democrat party, and bad things that happen in Democrat strongholds just don’t get reported. Detroit would be another example. DC, another example. Oakland, California.

      Obama’s showboating on gun control has nothing to do with protecting the American people from gun violence and everything to do with power. The media is in the Democrat’s pocket. Think about it. Also, black-on-black crime is not a news story. It’s doesn’t advance anybody’s agenda. It doesn’t advance anybody’s narrative. It’s not that those lives are not worth as much. It’s just you can’t blame conservatives or the NRA for it.

      Do you get it? It’s all politics, it’s all power. I’ll be the first to say I hate the government, I think partisan politics is so totally off the rails that we are more concerned with blaming and dismissing the other, with legislating either our wombs or our guns, what have you, that we have NO CLUE how to protect the people, but this is the world we are living in today. This is the country we are living in. Does this not bother anyone else?

    • Can you provide links to examples of other school shootings that take 10+ lives that don’t receive national press coverage?

      • This. The problem is that generally the school shootings that happen in poor urban areas are one or two people of the time, while the stuff that’s getting reported are massacres of a bunch of people at once.

        Not that racism isn’t a part of why the former don’t get reported (certainly, when a white kid gets killed at school it’s usually all over the news even if it was only one person), but the reason that Sandy Hook isn’t JUST because most (not all) of the people killed were white. The fact that it was a large massacre, and of young children, probably were bigger factors.

  15. That PSA just wasted 30 seconds of my life and made my migraine worse. I hhhhhate them. And I’m a Texan. Every neighbor on my street growing up had a gun collection. Scary stuff

  16. Hey there,

    I totally agree with you there, these are some very good points on why it will not help to arm the teachers.

    I am studying to become a teacher right now and I would never ever want to have a weapon in my classroom and even if I had one I would not be trained to use it in care there was a shooter. Just imagine what would happen if one of the teachers accidentally shot a student trying to protect everybody. Unbelievable.

    One way to reduce school shootings would be to stop people from copycating these shooting. Studies show that when media reports of a suicide, the number of suicides following close to the newsreport goes up dramatically. That’s why media is not allowed to publish reports about suicides in Germany anymore.
    In my opinion the same probably goes for these shootings and the increased number of them in recent time goes to the high public awareness. So maybe a media ban, although that would not be easy, as these shootings cannot really be hidden from the public. But maybe there is a way to limit media coverage…

    Anyway, just some thoughts that I had about this topic.

  17. There’s also, well, everything in this article, as another reason for why bringing guns into schools is bad:

    People talk about the influence of violent movies on our gun culture, but do people ever really watch those movies and think about what a society like that would look like? Where every wrong word or look might mean you have a gun aimed at you? A society where everyone is armed is not a truly free society, because the fact that anything you do or say that might offend somebody could be met with a bullet to your face undermines freedom of speech.

    (Which could mean it’s not a coincide that people who are overly zealous about the Second Amendment don’t understand the First one.)

    So yeah, the NRA is right when they say “an armed society is a polite society.” TOO polite. And politeness shouldn’t be more important than freedom of speech.

  18. Also, along with race being a HUGE factor in which students, in schools with police presence, get arrested, disability is also a factor. Students who have things like Aspergers syndrome that cause them difficulty with understanding social cues (and don’t understand that they shouldn’t sass a police officer, for example) are liable to get arrested by jumpy, power-mad school policemen when they would have just been given detention otherwise. That’s exactly what happened to an 11th-grader in the Bronx who had Asperger’s syndrome: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/opinion/sunday/take-police-officers-off-the-school-discipline-beat.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 Now he has a criminal record – simply because he SWORE and made crude jokes, i.e., not crimes – pretty much destroying any chance he had at getting into college.

    This is why I get frustrated when I see people talk about “put police officers in schools” with “it may not be the most effective, but what if it’s the best solution?”

    A solution that gives teenagers a criminal record for something that is not a crime is not, in any way, shape or form, the “best” solution. Especially when that lapse in judgment is the result of a disability.

  19. Yes, I agree that having armed guards or teachers in schools is a moronic proposal, but why the fuck is this a topic you are choosing to cover here?
    It’s got nothing at all to do with gay women and their lives or anything else even remotely lgbt (unless you want to discuss pink pistols).

    But ok, you’re choosing to bring this subject up here so I guess I’ll just have to register an account to point out all the inaccuracies in this piece.

    First off, there’s no such thing as a “military style assault weapon”, it’s a made up term that’s only used to influence people emotionally to oppose something they are ignorant of.

    Similairly, “high capacity magazines” is a term used almost exclusively in reference to STANDARD capacity magazines.

    The NRA and the GOP are both run by a bunch of fucking clowns but please, remain factual and make well reasoned arguments instead of empty appeals to emotion. To anyone with knowledge of these subjects you are just putting your ignorance on public display.

    Your fourth point for example is fucking bullshit, mass shootings have no correlation with gun ownership or firearms legislation. Why mass shootings occur is a deeply complex issue that you shouldn’t be drawing conclusions on based on pitifully small sample sizes. If you want to read a proper analysis on the phenomenon of mass shootings I suggest the book Going Postal by Mark Ames.

    You make the same mistake again right in your next bullet point. Correlation is not the same as causation.
    In Switzerland, all males of military age keep rifles and pistols at home (including automatic/semi automatic). When they get out of the military they have the option of keeping this, but they remove the automatic fire functionality of any weapon they opt to keep.
    Switzerland has an extremely low murder rate in spite of having one of the highest concentrations of gun ownership among the people in the entire world.
    Conversely, the UK has some of the strictest gun laws in the world (effectively, a ban), and has around the same rate of gun homicides as Switzerland.
    Switzerland requires everyone to have a gun and there is the same amount of gun murder as in a nation that bans almost everyone from having a gun.

    Violent crime in the UK by the way is a lot more common than in the US, but for whatever reason we get the spree killings.

    • Ever hear of École Polytechnique in Montreal?

      Just one example of how, yes, this question is relevant to women.

      • Also from this Slate article:

        “Polling also suggests that women are more open to gun control measures than men. The NRA, by close association, risks further defining the Republican Party as the party of angry, white Southern men. ”

        It’s relevant because this is an important, national conversation on an issue of pressing concern to everyone where, once again, the voices of straight white men are being elevated above everyone else’s. As a queer women’s website we’re trying to get the voices of queer women on this issue heard.

    • “First off, there’s no such thing as a ‘military style assault weapon,’ it’s a made up term that’s only used to influence people emotionally to oppose something they are ignorant of.”

      Actually I’ve had people who were in the military tell me that the guns we’re talking about restricting are exactly the same ones they used when they were in the military, and that’s why they think civilians have no business owning them. It may not be the TECHNICAL term for it but, if it’s the style they use in the military, it is, in fact, an accurate term.

      “In Switzerland, all males of military age keep rifles and pistols at home (including automatic/semi automatic). When they get out of the military they have the option of keeping this, but they remove the automatic fire functionality of any weapon they opt to keep.
      Switzerland has an extremely low murder rate in spite of having one of the highest concentrations of gun ownership among the people in the entire world.”

      Nothing about that says that gun restrictions don’t work. It’s saying Switzerland doesn’t need them. There are cultural differences between the US and Switzerland that you’re not taking into account here.

      “Violent crime in the UK by the way is a lot more common than in the US, but for whatever reason we get the spree killings.”

      First of all, source for that? Because I’m pretty sure the US actually has way more gun deaths than the UK. Second of all, the UK had “spree killings” until they enacted tougher gun laws in response to one. Since then, they haven’t had any.

      Hmmm. Looks like that kind of disproves your notion that gun control doesn’t work…

      • Would you consider the Remington 700 to be a military style weapon?


        Because it’s currently in service in the US military under the m24 and m40 designations.

        Just because something LOOKS like something else does not mean they FUNCTION the same. By your reasoning all airsoft guns should be outlawed because they are superficially similair to the real thing. Nevermind that they shoot plastic bb’s suing compressed air, THEY LOOK SCARY.

        As for your military friend, whoever that was is a moron. The m4 service rifle is not available for civilian ownership in any way shape or form since it was made after 1986 and most certainly isn’t the same thing as an ar15. The m4 is a machine gun, it is capable of fully automatic fire, the ar15 is not.

        “Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not”
        Yes, it is also my opinion that gun violence is a result of our culture but that doesn’t mean gun control is an effective solution.

        If you really want to get serious with combating gun violence and spree killings these are the steps you should be taking:
        *Ban all national publications from reporting spree killings. Keep the news localized and boring
        *Legalize, tax and regulate narcotics. Where you draw the line is up to you but the drug trade brings with it a whole lot of violent crime, simplest and best way to combat it is to make what they sell legal.
        *Fight poverty like you mean it. Tax reform would be a good start.
        *Health care reform. More specifically look into ways we can improve mental health care and make treatment easily available to those that need it.
        So far the executive orders signed by Obama have made sense, but banning weapons based on aesthetics and ergonomics or arguing for reduced capacity magazines is just ultradumb if you think that’s gonna make a difference.

        Here’s my source for the violent crime figures:
        Per 100,000 people the rate is 466 for the US and >2000 for the UK

        Saying you are “pretty sure” about something does not a good argument make, especially not when it’s so easy to prove you’re full of shit.

        So to sum it up, you’re arguing from a position of ignorance, you make disingenous claims and you build your case on appeals to emotion.

        • On the other hand, you are using the Cumbria shootings as evidence that the rate of gun death is as high in the UK as it is in the US?

        • First of all, you’re using ONE SPREE SHOOTING to suggest that the rates are the same in the US and the UK. Also, you’re using the example of ONE WEAPON to suggest that the “military grade weapons” distinction is bullshit. The point is, there are weapons that are useful pretty much exclusively in a military capacity that are available to civilians, and the “military grade” thing helps people to understand that distinction and why they shouldn’t be available.

          Also how do you know I’m not for all of those things that you list? (Well, I’m not for censoring the news media, but for most of the other stuff.)

          Maybe you should check over your own comments for fallacious arguments before you start critiquing other people for the same. And before you start calling people like the person I talked to “morons” because their experience doesn’t line up with yours.

        • Hi!

          Comments with more than three URLs in them are captured by our spam filter, as link-heavy comments are almost always spam. Sorry about the delay in getting your comment up, but rest assured there’s no censorship going on here. We only censor comments that violate our Comment Policy (when that happens we email commenters directly to explain why).

          Autostraddle Editorial Assistant

    • Actually, “military style assault weapon” isn’t so much a made up term as it is a simplified term to explain what an ACR (adaptive combat rifle) is. Most folks outside of military circles or those unfamiliar with firearms weren’t understanding the reference, so yes, the term came about to minimize questions or confusion. As to high capacity magazines, you are semi correct. For many weapons, the term “high capacity” is used for the standard mags. But it was a term used in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and it stuck. It is a fitting description none the less.

      • The ACR is a trademarked product made by Remington Arms, I’m not sure what you’re on about here.

        “the term came about to minimize questions or confusion”

        It’s done the exact opposite, the correct term for any ar15 variant is simply “semi automatic rifle”.

          • Whatever. The point is, if you can only find these opinions in ultra-right-wing news sources, it’s probably the case that not many women actually feel that way. Tokens don’t really prove anything.

            Statistically, women support gun restrictions at higher rates than men. There’s a reason for that; because most of us realize that vigilante fantasies about facing off against rapists with a gun are just that – fantasies – and the problem of violence against women is overall made worse, not better, by the presence of assault weapons among the civilan population.

  20. Maybe other non-Americans can comment on this, but as someone from the UK, the mere idea of having armed guards outside schools or having teachers with guns sounds like something from a dystopian scifi story. If David Cameron proposed it in parliament, he’d be laughed out of the building. Are there any other 1st world countries under democratic rule where guns are so ingrained into the culture that armed teachers would not raise an eyebrow? It makes the US sound as though it’s under martial law and you need guns to survive. So much for ‘land of the free’!

  21. Not strictly related to the guns in schools issue, but I liked this article in New Scientist on guns in the US:


    I was not aware the extent to which the NRA had managed to curtail research into gun crime and the effects of having such a heavily armed national, and quelle suprise, the NRA is heavily funded by gun manufacturers. Some of the comments on the article were also spot on.

Comments are closed.