Oh, But We Do Understand—Now, It’s Your Turn

Because I’ve been on the move, I have been unable to get involved in the ongoing debate in this blog’s comment section, even though I have enjoyed reading it.

I do, though, want to point out that one commenter, Rawhead, has been trying to defend what I consider to be an indefensible position on guns. One of his latest comments included the following, which I will use to respond to the debate that has been going on:

You guys are full of “what if’s” which could be continued ad infinitum. The fact is that the vast majority of gun owners never do anything even remotely malicious with their firearms and just because YOU don’t see use or value in something doesn’t mean that plenty of others don’t.

 Why is it that you people laugh at the paranoia of survivalists but fail to recognize your own paranoia about firearms owners misusing their weapons when, in fact, it just doesn’t happen that often?

The argument here is as follows:

1. Most gun owners don’t misuse their guns.

2. Gun owners value their guns in ways some of us don’t understand or appreciate.

It is undeniable that most people who own guns “never do anything even remotely malicious” with them. I have yet to come across anyone advancing an argument that says they do. So, we can all agree that, as the unfettered gun rights propaganda points out endlessly, most folks who possess firearms do so responsibly.

Now on to that second proposition. I fully understand why most people value guns. It’s just not that hard to figure out. Some people value them for protection and some value them for hunting and some value them for just the pleasure of target shooting.  Oh, yeah. There are those who value them for committing all sorts of crimes.

Thus, it is pretty easy to understand why people like guns, why they defend so vigorously their right to own and shoot them, if not the right to own and shoot them while holding up a liquor store or, well, shooting up a classroom full of children.

But here’s what people like Rawhead don’t understand. They don’t understand why some of us think that while it is okay for folks to have handguns in their homes to protect themselves, or guns to go hunting, or even guns to go target shooting, we don’t think it is worth the risk to allow them to own guns that have the capability of doing what that sick killer in Connecticut did, in a short time, to those children.

You see, we don’t think it’s okay to risk such things just so law-abiding folks can enjoy a day at the range unloading a high-capacity magazine into something not alive. We think there is too much at stake just so people can get their jollies firing weapons that only cops or soldiers should possess.

And the Rawheads of this world don’t understand why some of us think Louis Gohmert, that loony Texas Republican congressman, is out of his mind by suggesting that the principal of Sandy Hook, if she had an M4 in her office, could have got into a gunfight with the killer and saved the day. You see, we think educators ought to be in the business of educating, not in the business of law enforcement.

But most of all, the Rawheads don’t understand why some of us, hopefully most of us, find what Gohmert said on Fox “News” last Sunday absolutely insane, as reported by Think Progress:

Pressed by host Chris Wallace on why ordinary citizens need semi automatic weapons that shoot 5 bullets per second, Gohmert said that any restrictions on fire arms could lead to the slippery slope of full prohibition and said that American amass weapons to protect themselves from the government.

“For the reason George Washington said a free people should be an armed people,” Gohmert explained. “It ensures against the tyranny of the government, if they know the biggest army is the American people, then you don’t have the tyranny that came from King George. That is why it was put in there and that’s why once you start drawing the line, where do you stop?”

I am prepared to admit that I don’t fully understand or appreciate the mind from which that stupidity, that utterly anachronistic paranoia, flowed. But I am prepared to say that I don’t give a damn whether Louis Gohmert thinks the government may one day come after him, the rest of us no longer want to indulge his dark fantasies by watching more children, more innocents, die.

And that, Rawhead, is something you need to understand.



  1. Ahh come on Duane. Don’t put words in my ‘mouth’. I never agreed with the guy that wants to arm the principal. Better security at schools? Sure, but I think single-handedly defending the school with a gun falls outside the principal’s job description. Nor do I possess guns to ‘protect myself from the government.’ So don’t lump me in with ‘them’ you cunt 🙂

    “They don’t understand why some of us think that while it is okay for folks to have handguns in their homes to protect themselves, or guns to go hunting, or even guns to go target shooting, we don’t think it is worth the risk to allow them to own guns that have the capability of doing what that sick killer in Connecticut did, in a short time, to those children.”

    Sure ‘we’ understand your position… or at least I do. I just don’t happen to agree with it.


  2. ansonburlingame

     /  December 20, 2012

    To all,

    I have now written two blogs related to Newton, CT. My goal has been to stimulate discussion over how mental healthcare should be an integral part of the analysis of events in Newton along with gun control measures as well.

    Ever since I started public writing about 4 years ago I have advocated gun control but kept getting “stuck” with how to achieve such given the constitution. But when I do advocate some forms of gun control, well I catch hell on my own blog from some conservatives, many in fact.

    Rawhide in a recent exchange over there said that he thought I was advocating gun control in an attempt to “cozy up” (or words to that effect) to the “lefties”. In other words he, Rawhide, could find no “good” reasons other than trying to bridge some political gap for any arguments related to the need for and how to, constitutionally control some guns. My normal supporter “over there”, Nonny Moose, is more cogent in rebutal but as well that conservative commenter rebuts me all the time as well on gun control.

    My point you ask? Well as a routinely “conservative writer” I cannot sway the gun rights advocates with an attempt at least to make “reasonable” points, conservatively stated. So if “you guys” think you are going to make headway against such rebutals, well good luck.

    It would be like me going to an evangelical church and advocating Choice in terms of abortion!!!

    So why (Henry) do I bother with a “lengthy” comment on this blog? I have a “loyal” conservative following and I cannot make a dent in gun advocate views. Given the nature of this blog and commenters thereto, you have a much smaller chance in doing so for sure, as well, particularly when you “lash out” polemically at “them” on JUST the issue of gun control.

    BUT, even “gun nuts” do NOT want to see guns in the hands, anywhere, of “crazy people”. THERE is ground for some forms of agreement.

    BUT, again, when we start talking about “control” of crazy people, well civil libertarians come unglued, most of the time.

    Thus my point, IF opposites politically can somehow start a dialog on BOTH mental healthcare (which progressives will resist in terms of improving “control” of the mentally ill) AND gun control (see Rawhide for his views) then MAYBE fruitful discussion and some political progress MIGHT result.

    Now Henry, if I could have been more consise in such a comment, well, I tried to make it shorter, but it is a complex subject.



  3. So, Duane. You have again beautifully articulated the only rational (keyword: “rational”) argument on this issue. And once again there have been days and days of back and forth: arguing with fools. There is no reasonable last word, because reason is not part of the gun nuts’ argument — and they will want the last word. Sort of like a bullet to the brain. You are a patient, responsible, reasoned journalist. This discussion is going to go nowhere new. I’m a knee-jerk responder and I rely on you (and King and Jim) to be the voice of reason while I simmer and call people names. Thanks for all your good work. Let’s move on to something new.


  4. Jane Reaction

     /  December 20, 2012

    Nobody I know needs an assault weapon. Sadly, there are those who apparently believe that their AR’s will protect them from the US government, but they will not. At best, they will fend off their neighbors.


    • Juan Don linked to an article that made the point that throughout our history those who thought guns against the government was a good idea have failed, and are doomed to fail, every time. The government will always, always, win. The fact that these folks, like Gohmert, actually believe that guns are insurance against government tyranny this day and age says a lot about their intellectual acuity.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  December 21, 2012

    Withdrawing once again, but with a final observation. The left says all gun advocates are “nuts” and refuse to engage in discussing mental health reforms. Gun advocates say they want to protect themselves against ……, “crazy people” or more broadly, violent people.

    And the left as well, herein at least, only wants to “rely on Duane” to make the points for the left!!! Of course his approach is……. as it usually is. Use “big government force” to hammer the hell out of people with whom he disagrees and pray that “demographics” will allow him and others to achieve such goals.

    Well not with guns and “crazy people” of all sorts “joining hands” in opposition. And by joining hands I mean a crazy person with a gun in hand, anywhere, anytime.



  6. I cannot respond to Rawhead or to anyone who thinks that name-calling is an argument (and I wonder why the worst people think that the worst names are those than denigrate the female sex) but I’d like to affirm Duane’s position and, I think, maybe Anson’s, by pointing out an article in The Atlantic (June 2012) :
    To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.
    And the outcome,

    In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

    I can’t understand the people who say that more guns will mean less violence. In fact, I can’t
    even understand, as Duane does, why people want to own handguns.
    Oh, and Australia — In 1996, passed restrictive gun laws and a mandatory buy-back of citizens’s assault rifles. Gun deaths went down
    We all know that gun deaths are much higher in the US than in European countries where citizens do not own guns. I know correlation does not always equal cause, but — well, it just occurred to me, a possibly valid test of mental illness. If you want an assault rifle, you’re mentally ill — that makes as much sense as some of the arguments for arms that I hear.


    • I don’t think name-calling as an argument. In his article, Duane attributed several ideals to me that I do not espouse in order to make his point, just like all the other ‘journalists’ out there that fudge the truth to rally their ‘troops’. It reminded me of what he criticizes Fox News for doing all the time. You seem like a pretty hip chick from some of your other participation here so I think you can understand that from time to time, someone deserves a little name calling once in a while. After all, Duane knows it’s just a term of endearment.


      • Rawhead,

        You can call me all the names you want, but I would appreciate it if you would reread the piece I wrote. I did not attribute to you any “ideals” that you “do not espouse” in order to make my point. I clearly pointed out who the offenders were and merely ask people like you, people who appear to defend almost unfettered gun rights, to understand why those of us on this side think the way we do.

        And, by the way, the most offensive thing you said was comparing me to Fox “News.” That really hurt.



    • Helen,

      I appreciated that look into Japan and how they handle these matters. Imagine: you have to prove mental fitness to own a firearm! Who could have guessed that given that criterion, gun-related homicides in Japan are really, really low?

      Thanks for sharing that, Helen.



  7. ansonburlingame

     /  December 22, 2012


    Yes, you captured the essence of my views and thus we seem to agree on this matter.

    I would only add, again, my view that mental health and gun control must be inextricably linked under laws that are enforceable and effective. Such must apply to schools, malls, political gatherings, any public facilities, in urban areas as well as rural ones, etc. Our first and foremost priority should be to keep guns out of the hands of anyone that is “crazy”.

    I noted in Rachel Marsden’s column in Saturday’s Globe that she defines the link between guns and “crazy people” for ANYONE, and I quote, “The onous is on an individual to PROVE (my capitalization) he’s mature, competent and sane enough to own one”.

    She also goes on to suggest that anyone that has ever “threatened or attempted suicide, suffered from or been diagnosed or treated by a mental health professional for: depression; alcohol, drug or substance abuse; behavioral problems; or emotional problems, or been reported to the police or social services for violence, threatened or attempted violence or other conflict in your home or elsewhere or recently suffered a relationship breakdown, job loss or bankruptcy” should be deprived of the “right to bear arms” in America. Get into a “bar fight” anywhere in America and there goes your gun possession or ownership permits. Same for homes where “domestic violence” is reported and responded to by police.

    Wow, is that not a rather comprehensive list to define “crazy”, at least in terms of gun possession of any sort?

    Consider taking that list a step further as well. A “kid” goes to a “counselor” in school and expresses rage, anger, exhibits the tendency to any form of violence, etc. Should such a quest for help from such a kid result in IMMEDIATE parental notification and legal action to force the removal of ANY guns kept at home by parents??? If the parents want to own guns, then make them store them in a locked and guarded facility OUTSIDE of the home or some form of routinely INSPECTED home storage to PREVENT, effectively any access to such guns by the “kid”?

    I wonder if liberals herein would endorse such a sweeping list of people in America that should be “banned” from access to any firearms of any sort? I would also be interested in how liberals would enforce such banns for those people on a continuing basis. That means some “sane person” buys a gun “today” but goes “crazy” (as defined in the list) “tomorrow” due to……

    I also wonder how many homes with kids in “special education classes” in our schools have “guns all over the home” accessible to such kids?

    As for Rawhide and other gun possession advocates, I wonder how they can justify ANYONE with the background listed my Marsden to have the rights to “bear arms” in our country?

    I will stick my neck out and say I endorse her “definition of crazy” as far as gun possession goes, at least as an initial position to begin a real debate on mental health AND gun control.



    • Anson,

      Rachel Marsden is no liberal, that should be clear. I haven’t read her column on this issue and I will take your version as gospel, which gives me some hope that not all right-wingers are gun-crazed reactionaries who want to take us back a couple of centuries.

      And I think we have a rare moment of agreement on this one, Anson. Very rare, indeed, but very important, as those conservatives that have yet to be corrupted by the NRA have to speak up and get this one right.



    • Anson,

      I wonder if liberals herein would endorse such a sweeping list of people in America that should be “banned” from access to any firearms of any sort?

      I know I’m in the minority, maybe even a minority of one, but yes, I would endorse at least that. I don’t know why anyone needs and assault weapon or even a handgun. Handguns are not used for hunting (another topic – who gives humans the right to decide another species should die for our amusement?) — but, as I was saying, handguns are not used for hunting, they are used only for killing people. I would do as Japan has done. They even require every-three-year tests and mental health certification for air rifles.


  8. ansonburlingame

     /  December 24, 2012

    To all,

    Maybe, just maybe, there really is a Christmas, “Virginia” (or was it simply a Santa Claus?)

    For whatever reason, Duane, Helen and I seem to agree on an important issue, gun control AND its link to mental health. When the two “join hands”, meaning a deadly weapon and a person with a history of mental illness, society needs to break that “tie” and NOT let the two “join hands”.

    But we must do so Constitutionally, humanely and protect the rights of “sane people” that might choose as a matter of liberty to own and carry deadly weapons.

    I don’t know Rawhide in any way other than reading his “pithy” comments on blogs. But I will ASSUME that Rawhide is a sane and responsible American. So how do we find a way to protect Rawhide’s liberty and yet prevent “Adam” or his ilk to EVER have access to a deadly weapon, specifically and limited for now to only a GUN (or any sort)?

    Polemics will NOT solve that issue. Great care to protect liberty and yet wisdom to be able to simply say “NO”, legally and constituionally, is demanded. Liberal forms of government have great difficulty saying “NO” in social matters. Just look at how we have “hamstrung” our delivery of mental health CARE (which must include CONTROL) for the mentally ill since the 1960’s.

    Helen, Duane and I seem to agree on the ultimate goal. But we will inevitably disagree, perhaps, with how money should be spent to achieve that goal as well. Based on my experiences and observations over the years, simply “talking” (therapy and/or counseling) is gravely insufficient to adequately CONTROL many that are menally ill. I challenge anyone to “talk themselves (or using others) out of depression” as only an example.

    It would be interesting if our psychologist friend from Florida, HLG, a decidely progressive man it seems, weighed in on this matter, how we must CONTROL as well as treat the mentally ill, in a humane and progressive society today. I sure don’t have all the answers but do believe the goal is a good one, keeping guns out of the hands of ANYONE that is not sane.

    And you are correct Duane, Marsden is NOT a progressive. But she sure hit the nail on the head in an attempt to define “insanity” as far as gun control is concerned, in my view. You can probably still find her column online on the Globe pages. My quotes above in parenthesis were straight from that column however. And I tried not to “cherry pick” just those quotes.



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