The good people at the online news site known at The Trace are out with an excellent new article today on the efficacy of sensible gun laws and the demonstrable benefit they provide in lowering crime and violence. Here’s the introduction to “Gun-Rights Advocates Claim Criminals Don’t Follow Gun Laws. Here’s the Research That Shows They’re Wrong. How the right kind of regulations deter criminals from getting guns”:

“Despite the fact that mass shootings are predominantly an American phenomenon, gun advocates are quick to insist that there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Instead, they suggest these murders could only be reduced by having more armed civilians — aka  “good guys with guns” — roaming the streets, a solution that inevitably involves fewer gun regulations and more gun ownership. Reducing gun violence through straightforward policies of the sort implemented in virtually every other industrialized nation is regarded as a chimera by the National Rifle Association. After all, criminals don’t follow laws, so what would be the point?

John R. Lott, the author of More Guns, Less Crime, recently evoked a version of this slogan in a piece for The Daily Caller, arguing that closing the loopholes in the background check system would not have stopped the Charleston mass shooting from happening. The alleged killer’s record included an admission of drug use that should have blocked the purchase when he bought his Glock from a licensed dealer, but an FBI examiner didn’t catch it in time and the sale was allowed to go through by default. Even if had been denied, Lott reasoned, “[i]t seems hard to believe that he couldn’t have figured out some way of obtaining a gun.”

It turns out, however, that the scientific evidence suggests precisely the opposite: criminals routinely respond to incentives, and policies such as background checks and permit-to-purchase requirements demonstrably save lives by reducing criminal access to firearms. The problem, these studies show, isn’t that criminals don’t follow laws, but rather that criminals aren’t dissuaded by weak laws. And gun laws in all but a few states are decidedly weak.”

Click here to read the rest of this compelling explanation of why tougher gun laws make us all, on the whole, much safer.


Scott Lemieux of The Guardian has written a fine article about yesterday’s horrific murder-suicide tragedy in Virgina that’s worth your time. Here’s one of the best parts:

“It is true – as apologists for the status quo will be sure to point out – that it is impossible to know whether today’s murder specifically could have been prevented by a more stringent gun control regime, let alone by one characterized exclusively by background checks. But on a more systematic level, the result of our lack of substantive, internationally comparable gun control is entirely clear: the US is not only an international outlier in its lack of gun control, it is also a massive outlier in terms of firearm violence. The ease of access to firearms clearly causes large numbers of unnecessary deaths by homicide, suicide, and accident.

Thus, the staggering human toll of gun violence in the US is not just a random coincidence; it is the result of political choices.

Which policies could reduce the huge number of mass killings in the US are not a mystery: after 35 people were killed in Tasmania in 1996, Australia’s conservative government enacted sweeping gun control measures. The result was that both homicides and suicides by gun were immediately and sharply reduced, and there have been no mass killings in the country since. Conversely, there have been 885 mass killings in the United States since December 2012, when a gunman killed 20 elementary school students at the Newtown Elementary School in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.”

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein has more on Vox about some of the lessons we might glean from the Australian experience.


[This post has been updated to correct a duplicate link.] The gun insanity continues. Another average morning, another whirlwind of horrific stories about innocent people in and around us dying (or having their lives endangered) senselessly because criminals and crazy people have easy access to killing machines:

Meanwhile,  the chief defender and enabler of the terrorists around us — the gun lobby — goes merrily about its business, buying our politicians and undermining our democracy.


GunsIt shows you how far off course North Carolina government has strayed in recent years that so many good people are in a celebratory mood this morning after the Senate’s passage last night of legislation to further loosen state gun regulations. The source of the happiness (or at least, the relief), of course, is the fact that the bill has been transformed from the terrifying monster it was a few weeks ago into a junkyard dog. Provisions that would have scrapped the state’s handgun permitting system and limited doctors’ ability to ask patients about guns in the home, for instance, were removed.

That said, the bill remains dangerous and unnecessary. As the good people at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence explained last night:

“The bill loosens gun restrictions by allowing guns in locked cars at the state fairgrounds during the State Fair. It will also allow someone to take a gun out of a locked car on educational property to defend themselves or others against a threatening situation, a role advocates say is better left to law enforcement. Limiting local jurisdiction, the bill weakens municipalities’ ability to determine when and where guns are allowed. It also downgrades carrying a concealed weapon on private property to an infraction.”

In other words, when Gov. McCrory signs the bill into law — as he presumably will — North Carolina will have more killing machines in more places than before.


So, congratulations to the advocates who helped beat back the original version of the legislation. It was one of the first successes gun safety advocates have had in North Carolina in a long time and a lot of people deserve great credit for their hard and courageous work and important success. Let’s hope, however, that this is just the first baby step for a growing movement that will not just staunch the state’s bleeding, but ultimate;y help heal the wounds brought on by several years of senseless gun deregulation.


“This tragedy that we’re addressing right now is undescribable,” Charleston’s police chief said at a news conference. “No one in this community will ever forget this night. And as a result of that, and because of the pain, and because of the hurt that this individual has caused this community, this entire community, the law enforcement agencies that are working on this are committed — we will catch this individual.”

As news continues to roll in about this apparent hate crime that took a host of lives at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, that pain will only expand. Actions like this have grievous consequences for years, even generations to come.

Lest we forget, terrorist violence of this nature has a long history of targeting black churches.

When I think of this tragedy and the community’s pain, I think of Michael S. Harper’s short but devastating poem, “American History,” which references Charleston and addressed these themes years before this latest tragedy. All I have to say about the vile motives of the vicious and cowardly man who committed these murders, Harper said better in a few short lines.

My heart breaks for the victims of this tragedy, and I hope we can all take a moment to recognize the pain and loss of a community — while committing ourselves to building a world where this never happens again.