Postponed Hearing Says It All About Gun Violence And The GOP’s Everlasting Tolerance Of It

Yes, we live in strange times.

I just heard a gun-control advocate say on MSNBC that there was supposed to be a hearing today—today!—before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The hearing was titled:

“‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force”

This hearing, which was to include as a witness Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, obviously was inspired by the “deadly force” used against her barely 17-year-old son in Sanford, Florida. But, alas, the hearing has been postponed because of, well, because of deadly force used against 12 people at D.C.’s Navy Yard on Monday, just a mile and a half from where the Senate hearing was to convene. If that doesn’t perfectly sum up the problem we have with doing something about “the expanded use of deadly force,” nothing does.

I say we live in strange times. But more important, in some ways we live in increasingly dangerous times, too, And we owe a significant part of that increasing danger to the NRA and the Republican Party, a party whose members will gladly cite public opinion polls and constituency feedback on Syria policy—because it allows them to safely stick a political knife in the back of the President of the United States—but will ignore that same public opinion and constituency feedback when it comes to standing up to the NRA and at least supporting the expansion of background checks.

For the record, and not that it means a damn thing as long as Tea Party Republicans control the House of Representatives, here are the results of polling done after the Senate failed this year to pass a bill on expanding background checks on gun purchases:

expanded background checks polling 2013

senate judiciary hearing postponed



  1. ansonburlingame

     /  September 17, 2013

    Another mass shooting and another round of gun control debate. Bad impetus for such a debate, in my view. Go to for some facts related to how mass shooting deaths amount to only a very small fraction of death by firearms.

    On the other hand, the correlation of deaths from firearms and mental health is vague, at least to me.

    I don’t like our gun laws today for sure. But I don’t believe much well be achieved until we find a way to change the 2nd Amendment as well.

    BUT, there SHOULD be a way to keep guns, all guns, out of the hands of the mentally ill.



    • Anson,

      The Second Amendment of 2013 is the same one of 1934 when the National Firearms Act became law. Machine guns remain policed, subject to strict ATF regulations regarding ownership and resale. The federal government has, and still does, determine that a certain type of firearm poses a threat to public safety.

      Gun control and regulation advocates seek to include modified M-16 rifles in the same category as fully automatic machine guns. The AR-15, a trendy military assault-style rifle, capable of firing 60 rounds per minute, is not technically a machine gun. Ergo the weapon of choice used by maniacs to commit mass murder is legal, as is buying 100 round magazines. However, the AR-15 is easy to refashion. The website Defensive Carry offers handy instructions on how to convert the rifle (legally), allowing the shooter to empty a 30 round magazine in four seconds.

      The creed voiced by the NRA, the well- funded lobbying wing for arms manufacturers, is that government regulation concerning firearms violates the Second Amendment, but for some reason the National Firearms Act of 1934 is over looked. You know that the “Obama wants to take away your guns” canard plays too well with those who already have a visceral reaction against anything the president proposes. Placing assault rifles in the same category as machine guns does not violate the “sanctity” of the Second Amendment any more than moderating blog comments violates the “sanctity” of the First Amendment.

      The Second Amendment is not a religious commandment, but part of a political document celebrating its two hundred and twenty sixth birthday. In 1787, the Ferguson was state-of-the art, capable of firing six shots per minute; and militias were “well regulated.”

      When you write “…mass shooting deaths amount to only a very small fraction of death by firearms…” I assume you mean assault rifles. That is true. Twenty three thousand Americans have died from gunshot wounds since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, the vast majority from handguns. However, that should not hinder legislation designed to curtail the public slaughter resulting from weapons originally designed for war.
      The Second Amendment does not need to be “changed” in order to address this specific type of killing machine. Surely, we can reach a consensus on this.


  2. Good post, Duane, and good comments, John. Unfortunately, I see the gun problem as pitting common sense against fanatic enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is likely to continue to win. I see it when I pick up a gun magazine (the kind you read), usually at the barber shop. The appeal shines on every page.

    These are machines well designed by a competitive industry which touts appearance, function and innovation (e.g., laser sights). They are expensive. Most cost hundreds of dollars and even a good shotgun can cost over $1,000. Why, especially in a down economy, do guns sell so well? I think it is their cachet. Like a Rollex watch or a big diamond ring, the more expensive guns are recognizable as a quality item, but they also, perhaps like a tattoo, convey a message about they owner’s personality, something perhaps like, “I am an aggressive, assertive person who deserves respect, and who is capable of violence if the occasion arises.

    I noted in an internet news item today that Starbucks has had something of a running controversy regarding guns. They apparently have signs prohibiting open-carry on their premises, but are now announcing that they will not attempt to enforce the rule, or even comment on any customer packing heat openly. I guess that would be like asking them to leave their Louis Vuitton handbag in the car. Cachet.


  3. ansonburlingame

     /  September 18, 2013


    Read the link. It quantifies “mass shootings” by numbers killed, not the type of weapons used. The number is somewhere in the range of 550 over the last “20” (or so) years. That number of dead is about one tenth of one percent of all killed by firearms, according to the article.

    You misunderstand my position on guns. I call for NO handguns for any private individuals, no “assualt weapons” however they are defined, etc. I have a shotgun and and 30-30 rifle and have only used them for hunting. I see no reason to have more guns, of any sort and would be more than willing to license such guns, just like I do my car.

    No way would such personal goals be achieve given the 2nd Amendment.

    And no way you or other progressives are going to be able to incrementally nip at the edges of gun control given the broad public sentiments on that issue.

    Solution? I have suggested it before. Americans must kill a lot more Americans using guns of all sorts before ………

    Reset American politics to 2007, just to pick a date before the Tea Party ever existed and you would find the same outrage over gun control then, as now, in my view.

    Just how outrageous has that debate now become. Well one vote shy of having the legal authority to arrest federal agents enforcing federal laws is pretty outrageous in my view and you can’t blame that on just the Tea Party.



    • Anson,

      Sorry I misunderstood. I assumed that guns are always involved in a shooting. I agree that in terms of body count, thousands more die from less publicized tragedies.

      I am not suggesting legislation to ban handguns. Considering there are millions in circulation, the effort is as fruitless as the ongoing War on Drugs. Like you, I do not own one. I can only take small comfort in the fact that I am six times less likely to die by bullet because my holster is empty.

      My point is this: There is no need to change the Second Amendment in order to regulate military assault rifles. You imply that I am calling for legislation that affects all firearms.

      “And no way you and other progressives are going to be able to incrementally nip at the edges of gun control given the broad public sentiment on that issue”
      Go back and reread Duane’s post. There is public dissatisfaction with lax regulations regarding background checks; fifty six percent of Americans want a ban on assault weapons. Unfortunately, too many politicians fear the NRA’s deep pockets.

      The Tea Party is a problem you and other Republicans need to address before the party of Lincoln becomes the party of Lincoln Logs.


  4. Not to toot my own horn here, but I have argued that the 2nd amendment is inoperable and meaningless in the 21st century. See my essay on this subject at

    Of course, what I say doesn’t amount to a hill of bullets. But it might help inform the debate . . . if anybody cares.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  September 18, 2013

    My only response on an issue that you and I agree upon, is the 2nd Amendment SHOULD be “inoperable and meaningless” in a modern America. But it ain’t for sure. “Gunners” shove it down our throats every chance they get and SCOTUS HAS to back them up, Constitutionally, most of the time.

    You may recall my frequent arguments over attempts to make the Constitution a “living document”, one subject to all sorts of interpretations. My position is if you want to fundamentally change America, then do it Constitutionally. The first step in such a matter is to only allow the federal government what the Constitution tells that federal government to do, by and large. Want more responsibility to hand off the the Feds, then change the Constitution and do it with undisputed legal authority to do so, Constitutionally.

    My guess, and it is only a guess, is that our Founders would be surprised that the Constitution has been changed only 25 times over 23? years. Actually the first ten times and the several (two or three) a direct result of the Civil War leaves only about ten or so real changes to the Constitution to affect how America is governed over does 2 plus centuries.

    Ten changes “right out to the gate” so to speak and a few directly the result of a war. The rest were incremental changes, some of which have had some pretty significant unintended consequences in my view, to keep the Constitution up to date with changing American society.

    We COULD develop far more unity in America today if we just got down to basics and tried to change the Constituion. Fail in such an effort and we go on to fight other battles. Change in and THEN let the naysayers argue with little of not strength to such arguments.

    SCOTUS for sure would be alot less busy and that would be GOOD for everyone, in my view. Let the people decide, not some court.



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