Cynthia Tucker on Firearm Regulation

no guns 1In her column, “America is exceptionally dumb when it comes to guns,” which appeared in the local Gannett papers Tuesday, April 29, 2014, Cynthia Tucker discusses an aspect of American Exceptionalism that she says is irrationally exceptional–gun worship. Tucker makes these points:

    • No other nation has set guns aside as an object of worship.
    • We have let a blood-soaked gun lobby dictate our laws and regulations.
    • We have passed “stand your ground laws that allow violent and angry men to murder unarmed people
    • We have given the mentally unstable the right to buy military-style assault weapons

Tucker then notes Georgia’s “guns everywhere” law which allows citizens to carry guns into government buildings, bars, and churches. She goes on to discuss resistance to President Obama’s initiative for CDC to study gun violence which means,  she says, some questions that desperately need answers won’t get the inquiry they deserve:

    • Do background checks deter gun violence?
    • How many mass shooters have a detectable mental illness?
    • What is the link between suicide and gun ownership?

Then she notes that not even the possible link between violent video games and mass shootings would be studied.

In a statement to ProPublica, Jack Kingston (R-GA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, said he would oppose a proposal from President Obama for $10 million in CDC gun research funding. Kingston is facing a Tea Party challenge. “The President’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill,” Kingston said.  Perhaps the Senate will restore the needed funding.

Finally Tucker concludes:

That’s just nuts, a reminder of our willingness to be exceptionally dumb about some things.

© William Hungerford – April 2014



About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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33 Responses to Cynthia Tucker on Firearm Regulation

  1. josephurban says:

    30,000-35,000 people are killed every year in the USA by some kind of gun violence. (Perspective: 15 World Trade Center 9/11 terror attacks each year, every year….equivalent of more than one WTC each month) I think that almost half of those deaths are either self-inflicted or accidental. In other words, the people MOST LIKELY to be killed by a gun are the owner or a member of the family. As a study by the Kaiser Foundation reported, in 2010 the states with the strictest gun control laws had significantly fewer deaths by guns .( ). While mass shootings get all the publicity, it is actually the everyday misuse of handguns that produces the most deaths. A national sensible gun control policy is needed. Until the grip of the NRA on Congress is broken, that sensible policy will not happen.

    • BOB McGILL says:‎CachedSimilar
      May 19, 2010 … … the ages of 15 and 24 are most likely to be targeted by gun violence as … From
      1976 to 2005, 77 percent of homicide victims ages 15-17 died …
      Most gun violence is committed by gangs or drug dealers. If the current guns laws and other laws actually worked, there wouldn’t be such a problem. Actually most homicides are done using the hands, fists or other blunt objects. Suicide by train is getting quite popular these days, a man and his wife used a train just last week right here in New York.

    • BOB McGILL says:

      When I checked out your link to the first thing that struck me was that the states with higher ” deaths by guns ” most have a higher drug and crime rate.

  2. BOB McGILL says:

    from the New York Times “CHICAGO — Not a single gun shop can be found in this city because they are outlawed. Handguns were banned in Chicago for decades, too, until 2010, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that was going too far, leading city leaders to settle for restrictions some describe as the closest they could get legally to a ban without a ban. Despite a continuing legal fight, Illinois remains the only state in the nation with no provision to let private citizens carry guns in public.
    .And yet Chicago, a city with no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, finds itself laboring to stem a flood of gun violence that contributed to more than 500 homicides last year and at least 40 killings already in 2013, including a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl on Tuesday”

  3. josephurban says:

    The reason we need a national gun law is obvious. The states where guns are easily obtained serve as conduits for illegal guns into the states with saner laws. But even with those illegal conduits we see that gun-related deaths are much lower in states with stricter gun laws. The data is pretty clear. Even states with big cities ( like NY) have significantly lower rates than states in the south.Common sense. Easier access means it is more likely for guns to fall into the hands of criminals or those with mental issues.

    • BOB McGILL says:

      as easy as it is to get drugs into this counrty , I would think guns would be no different.

    • BOB McGILL says:‎CachedSimilar
      Do not believe that stricter gun laws would prevent criminals from illegally … and
      21% said the failure of the criminal justice system was the most pressing cause.
      …. dutifully registered their guns with the authorities in Soviet Georgia (Chicago …

      I found this interesting– “America’s high crime rates can be attributed to re volving-door justice. In a typical year in the U.S., there are 8.1 million serious crimes like homicide, assault, and burglary. Only 724,000 adults are arrested and fewer still (193,000) are convicted. Less than 150,000 are sentenced to prison, with 36,00 0 serving less than a year (U.S. News and World Report, July 31, 1989). A 1987 National Institute of Justice study found that the average felon released due to prison overcrowding commits upwards of 187 crimes per year, costing society approximately $430,000.”

      • BOB McGILL says:

        this is a bit old but todays numbers are even higher. Because most states are in financial trouble, like New York, they are closing prisons and letting prisoners out early. This seems to cause a higher crime rate.

        • josephurban says:

          The failure of the prison system is a whole other issue. With recidivism rates as high as 70-75% it is obvious that the system is not working. There are plenty of things that could be done. All cost money now but save money in the long term. Education, job placement, better monitoring upon release, drug treatment, breaking up prison gangs, providing full citizenship rights upon release , shortening or eliminating sentences for the non-violent and increasing sentences for the violent. Won’t happen. Any attempt to solve the problems get labeled as “soft on crime” or “coddling ” criminals.

          • Anne says:

            Agreed. My husband was a criminal defense lawyer, and his entire life was spent stressing the need for alternatives to incarceration for a good portion of our criminal population. A good first step would be to get away from privatizing prisons–mix in the need for profit, and you create an industry that has to find a way to be self-sustaining, which is absolutely counter to the goal of rehabilitation.

      • Anne says:

        None of these figures makes any sense. I looked around to find the source for your “1987 National Institute of Justice study” and could only find a handful of right wing sites that are all copying and repeating each other on this assertion.(I also find it really difficult to believe that the “average felon” is out there committing more crimes on the average of one every other day or so.) You seem to be conflating violent crime with property crime, and ignoring drug arrests altogether. Additionally, the DoJ self-reports a conviction rate of 93% for the year 2011 (the latest for which I could find statistics), which is quite a ways off from the numbers you quote here, which has that figure at roughly 37%.

        • josephurban says:

          Figures on crime, like any other statistic, can be used to prove any point. We do know that it costs a lot more to keep a person incarcerated than educated or even employed! And as you have said, the word “felon” is a fairly large category. Drunk drivers who commit manslaughter, burglars, rapists, embezzlers, small time drug users…all could be “felons”. I think we would be wiser to identify and incarcerate violent felons and find saner, less costly ways of dealing with non-violent ones. But in any case, throwing these guys back into the same environment they came from has lead to very high recidivism rates…..

        • BOB McGILL says:

          I am not conflating anything, it was a copy and paste 100%

  4. Anne says:

    The Brady campaign has some good statistics (if by “good,” you understand I mean “factual”) on gun violence in this country, and these two stand out: the U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population;
    a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense. It gets worse from there. (I’d like them to add statistics about the likelihood your congresscritter is in the back pocket of the NRA lobby, but we all know that’s roughly 100%.) I think a large part of the problem is that people who are on the “shall not be infringed” side of the argument are having an emotional argument, while thinking that they’re having an intellectual argument. As an example, on one town’s facebook page, I saw an internet meme today which talks about how the US government, in 1890, shot & killed over 290 Indians “at school,” thereby making the Newtown shooting *not* the worst school shooting in our history. The trouble is, of course, that the episode this references was actually an incident the rest of us know as Wounded Knee, and had nothing to do with a school shooting, or anything like it, as anyone with a basic grasp of 8th grade American history could tell you. But there it is, a paranoid–emotional–argument, cast as a history–intellectual–arguement/lesson. I wasn’t surprised to see it posted by someone I think of as The Stupidest Woman in Cohocton, but I am always surprised to see how many people swallow this stuff, reacting, rather than thinking.

    • whungerford says:

      Anne, thanks for your comment. We are urged, by No Labels for example, to agree on the facts and go from there. Yet we can’t agree on the most basic facts–best we carry guns everywhere or pretty much nowhere? For every fact one believes, it seems someone believes the opposite and can cite some authority to prove it. This makes it difficult to pin politicians down–for example, Tom Reed can claim that “taxes are at an all time high” which may resonate in NY-23 even though the claim is false.

  5. josephurban says:

    Every right has limits. Every right has associated responsibilities. The old saying of “Your right to swing your fist stops where it meets my jaw”. The right to own weapons is no different. Sensible laws are possible. Just as there are limits to religious freedom, association, etc. The problem is that ANY sensible limit on gun possession and use is often treated as ” The government wants to take away my gun”. Simply untrue.

  6. BOB McGILL says:

    the U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population; ?????????? that statement leads me to ask what 22 countries ? As far as I know, NO other country even comes close to the wealth of the US.

    • josephurban says:

      Well, Bob, I have been to Canada and to a few European countries. While few are our peer in “population”, many are relatively wealthy. I suspect that on the list of countries that come very close, or exceed, the “wealth” of the US in terms of being modern industrial or post-industrial nations are the following: Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Luxembourg, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and possibly Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and some of the former Balkan states. The overall point is simple. The US is a world leader in gun violence and crime when compared to similar nations. Compared to these nations the US gun violence rate is very high.

      • BOB McGILL says:

        European Gun Ownership and Murder Rates
        Harvard study
        Would Baning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?
        Don B. Kates
        Gary Mauser
        The rate of gun ownership is given for the countries with the top 20 murder rates. As can be seen, there is no clear pattern between gun ownership and murder rates.
        Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 30‎CachedSimilar
        And not just no, as in there is no correlation between gun ownership and … Gary
        Mauser – in their exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and …

        • BOB McGILL says:

          The rate of gun ownership is given for the countries with the top 20 murder rates.
          As can be seen, there is no clear pattern between gun ownership and murder …

        • whungerford says:

          One of the authors (Kates) is associated with The Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, a right-wing, free-market think tank which promotes the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility. In brief, the study may be biased.

          • BOB McGILL says:

            how did I know you were going to say that ? 🙂 And I am sure Harvard is in on the conspiracy, right.

          • BOB McGILL says:

            We are so lucky to have the most honest,smartest,unbiased person on the planet right here in the 23rd. How can we ever thank you for protecting us from all the evil that exists in the world ?

      • BOB McGILL says:

        More fundamentally, Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser demonstrate that other developed nations such as Norway, Finland, Germany, France and Denmark maintain high rates of gun ownership, yet possess murder rates lower than other developed nations in which gun ownership is much more restricted.

        For example, handguns are outlawed in Luxembourg, and gun ownership extremely rare, yet its murder rate is nine times greater than in Germany, which has one of the highest gun ownership rates in Europe. As another example, Hungary’s murder rate is nearly three times higher than nearby Austria’s, but Austria’s gun ownership rate is over eight times higher than Hungary’s. “Norway,” they note, “has far and away Western Europe’s highest household gun ownership rate (32%), but also its lowest murder rate. The Netherlands,” in contrast, “has the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe (1.9%) … yet the Dutch gun murder rate is higher than the Norwegian.”

        Dr. Kates and Dr. Mauser proceed to dispel the mainstream misconception that lower rates of violence in Europe are somehow attributable to gun control laws. Instead, they reveal, “murder in Europe was at an all-time low before the gun controls were introduced.” As the authors note, “strict controls did not stem the general trend of ever-growing violent crime throughout the post-WWII industrialized world.”

        Citing England, for instance, they reveal that “when it had no firearms restrictions [in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries], England had little violent crime.” By the late 1990s, however, “England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban on all handguns and many types of long guns.” As a result, “by the year 2000, violent crime had so increased that England and Wales had Europe’s highest violent crime rate, far surpassing even the United States.” In America, on the other hand, “despite constant and substantially increasing gun ownership, the United States saw progressive and dramatic reductions in criminal violence in the 1990s.”

        • BOB McGILL says:

          To the contrary, they establish that Soviet murder rates far exceeded American murder rates, and continue to do so today, despite Russia’s extremely stringent gun prohibitions. By 2004, they show, the Russian murder rate was nearly four times higher than the American rate.

        • josephurban says:

          Some corrections. According to the latest figures on intentional homicides released in 2010 by the UNODC. The murder rate in Netherlands is NOT higher than Norway. It is 50% LOWER than Norway (2.2 v 1.1 per 100,00). The murder rate in Luxembourg is not 9 times greater than Germany. Both are .8 per 100,000. The rate of homicide in the UK is actually only 25% of that of the USA. And the murder rate in the US, at 4.8 per 100,000 vastly exceeds all of Europe except for a few eastern European countries (Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania) countries.

          • BOB McGILL says:

            List of countries by intentional homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants. The reliability of underlying national murder rate data may vary.[1] The legal definition of “intentional homicide” differs among countries. Intentional homicide may or may not include infanticide, assisted suicide or euthanasia.[2]

            Intentional homicide demographics are affected by changes in trauma care, leading to changed lethality of violent assaults, so the intentional homicide rate may not necessarily indicate the overall level of societal violence.[2] They may also be underreported for political reasons.[3][4] Another problem for the comparability of the following figures is that some data may include attempts. In general the values in these lists should not include failed attempts except when mentioned otherwise

            Guess you didn’t read this part. 🙂

          • BOB McGILL says:

            The figures are based mainly on surveys and reports by government agencies and subject to their reliability. In addition, the figures may vary significantly over the years due to changes in crime rate trend. The death rate is also sensitive to fluctuation if the absolute number of incidents is small and for countries with relatively small population such as Mauritius and Singapore
            gee a DISCLAIMER AT THE END 🙂

          • josephurban says:

            Bob. Interesting observation about the possibility of homicide rates being reported based on different criteria (Although I strongly suspect that the European and North American nations are close in their definitions). And yet, the study that you have relied on so extensively (by Kates and Mauser) relies on the same data reporting for Europe, namely the UNODC (you left that part out ). The SAME SOURCE as the stats in the Wiki summary. And some of the data in the Kates and Mauser study is mainly from 2003 but some of the reporting is from 1998. The study I cited is the latest available one, from 2010. Of course, all of these studies are going to be incomplete for any number of reasons, but I tend to go with the latest data as probably the more accurate. The real question: Why is the UNODC data correct when it is used by Kates and Mauser, but wrong today ?

  7. josephurban says:

    One of the ways the NRA (and some others) has been able to effectively cloud the issue of gun ownership is to set up red herrings. Any gun “regulation” is described as gun “ELIMINATION”. (Obama wants to take your guns !) This argument is designed to stop all dialogue about meaningful and sensible gun control. It is like saying that any attempt to impose speed limits on our highways is the same as stopping all traffic from moving. An honest discussion about the pros and cons of certain types of gun legislation becomes impossible as when any politician even mentioning sane gun control laws becomes immediately labeled. For some reason (perhaps economic?) the idea that the 2nd Amendment right has no limits has been promulgated. It is a wrong argument. Every right has sensible limits.

  8. josephurban says:

    Some facts on the Kates and Mauser study referred to as definitive and coming from Harvard. The study was published by non-peer reviewed Harvard STUDENT publication, of which there are many. That does not mean the study was flawed, but linking to Harvard University or implying that Harvard University authored the study or validated the study is incorrect. Neither author was in any way associated with Harvard University. Along those lines, Harvard University School of Public Health (evidently acceptable as a source of information) has done a review of the relevant academic studies of the relationship between gun availability and homicide rates. They concluded : 1.Where there are more guns there is more homicide. 2. Across states, more guns= more homicide. 3. Across high income nations, more guns = more homicide.

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