Quotes of the day

President Obama is quietly moving forward on gun control.

The president has used his executive powers to bolster the national background check system, jumpstart government research on the causes of gun violence and create a million-dollar ad campaign aimed at safe gun ownership.

The executive steps will give federal law enforcement officials access to more data about guns and their owners, help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and lay the groundwork for future legislative efforts.

It is unclear whether the National Rifle Association (NRA) will challenge any of the executive actions in court. A spokesman for the NRA did not return a request for comment.


“We got nine tenths of the way [on background checks] with Coburn,” says one senior Democratic Senate staffer. But the Oklahoma Republican argued that conservatives simply wouldn’t support a bill that expanded record keeping, even one that merely extended the existing system for commercial sales to private sales. Schumer said gun control groups felt strongly that expanded background checks without record keeping would be meaningless. The two sides amicably agreed to test the support for those positions on both sides…

There are three possible outcomes to the test of wills. Bloomberg and his allies could successfully pressure Republicans to back down on paper records, likely giving Obama a win on two of the four measures he sought in the wake of Newtown (a bill increasing the penalties for gun trafficking bill is likely to pass, while an assault weapons ban and an expensive bill boosting school safety programs are expected to fail). Alternatively, if the Bloomberg effort fails to pressure conservatives to accept paper records for private sales, gun control advocates will have to decide whether to accept expanded background checks without paper records, or scrap them entirely.

The last outcome would be a failure all around, given the broad support for universal background checks, and the evidence that they could do something to diminish gun deaths. Bloomberg’s group has compiled records claiming that last year 6.6 million guns were sold privately without a background check. And a Bloomberg News article cites “a 2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of inmates convicted of gun crimes found that 80 percent acquired the weapons through a private transfer.”


Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said that after the next mass shooting incident, members of Congress will be forced to explain why they did not act.

“People in the Congress of the United States don’t want to do this,” Malloy said. “And I think they’ll get some things done on trafficking, school safety perhaps, some of the background checks loopholes — but not all of them. Each time that that happens, we’ll continue to have this debate.”…

“Thirty-three Americans are going to continue to be murdered with guns each day and every day until Congress acts, and they are going to be hearing about it much more than they were six months ago,” Glaze said. “Reality No. 2 is that there will be another mass shooting, and when there is, people who refuse to do the easy things are going to have a lot of explaining to do.”


“But the actual legislation under review is minimal and meaningless!” It’s true: background checks and a bit more enforcement of laws on straw purchases is hardly enough—but (once again) they need to be supported not just as symbols but also because we have learned that any impediment to violence, however low, is better than none at all, and small ones can be surprisingly potent. All kinds of laws help reduce gun violence. As Richard Florida wrote, in a study published in the Atlantic, “Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).” In other words, the mechanism of massacre is simple availability. Any obstacle might spare the life of a six-year-old…

If American had gun laws like those in Canada, England, or Australia, it would have a level of gun violence more like that of Canada, England, or Australia. That’s as certain a prediction as any that the social sciences can provide. To believe that gun control can’t work here is to believe that the psyches of Americans are different from those of everyone else on earth. That’s a form of American exceptionalism—the belief that Americans are uniquely evil and incorrigibly violent, and that nothing to be done about it—that doesn’t seem to be the one that is usually endorsed.

Keep the laws as they are, and the shootings, very often of children and high-school and college students, will go on. The President put it well on Thursday: “It won’t solve every problem. There will still be gun deaths. There will still be tragedies. There will still be violence. There will still be evil. But we can make a difference if not just the activists here on this stage but the general public—including responsible gun owners—say, You know what, we can do better than this. We can do better to make sure that fewer parents have to endure the pain of losing a child to an act of violence.” That’s what the correlations show, and they show it beyond a reasonable doubt. Change the laws and more will live; keep them, and more children die. That’s not an emotional statement; it’s merely a descriptive one. It’s not a complaint—or really, any longer, a cry of pain. It’s not even a commentary. It’s just a certainty.


The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data.

Federal gun crimes include illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone, illegal sale of a firearm to a juvenile, felon, or drug addict, and illegal transport of a firearm across state lines. In Chicago, the majority of gun charges last year were for firearms violations.

The districts of Eastern New York, Central California, and Northern Illinois ranked 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively, out of 90 districts, in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year, but it wasn’t always this way. All three districts fell lower on the list than they had been in years past.


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) responded to President Barack Obama’s latest call for action on gun control Thursday, launching criticism at the White House and promising to do everything in his power to stop the administration’s push for stricter legislation.

“It is saddening to see the president today, once again, try to take advantage of this tragic murder to promote an agenda that will do nothing to stop violent crime, but will undermine the constitutional rights of all law-abiding Americans,” Cruz said in a statement. “I am committed to working with Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Jim Inhofe — and I hope many other colleagues — to use any procedural means necessary to protect those fundamental rights.”…

“In any conversation about how to prevent future tragedies such as Sandy Hook, our focus should be on stopping criminals from obtaining guns,” Cruz said. “Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has failed to make this a priority — in 2010, out of more than 15,700 fugitives and felons who tried to illegally purchase a firearm, the Obama Justice Department prosecuted only 44. That is unacceptable.”


The protective order didn’t help Deborah Wigg; the police couldn’t help; her neighbors and parents couldn’t help. Only if she’d had a gun and knew how to use it — after carefully disregarding everything Joe Biden has said on the subject — might she have been able to save her own life.

Numerous studies, including one by the National Institute of Justice, show that crime victims who resist a criminal with a gun are less likely to be injured than those who do not resist at all or who resist without a gun. That’s true even when the assailant is armed.

Liberals’ advice to rape and domestic abuse victims is: Lie back and enjoy it. The Times’ advice is: Get a protective order. The NRA’s advice is: Blow the dirtbag’s head off. Or, for the delicate: Resist with a gun, the only effective means to stop an attack.

Apparently a lot of abused women prefer not to lie back and take it. Looking at data from Detroit, Houston and Miami, Margo Wilson and Martin Daly found that the vast majority of wives who killed their husbands were not even indicted, much less convicted, because it was found they were acting in self-defense.


It goes without saying that any loss of life from criminal use of guns is tragic. Morgan believes that magazines which hold 30 rounds should be banned. Adam Lanza had several and reportedly reloaded four times. He stopped his spree when other guys with equal magazine capacities arrived on the scene. The takeaway: he reloaded. It takes seconds to reload. It takes seconds to reload a handgun — the atrocity at Virginia Tech was committed with illegally used handguns. Morgan says high capacity magazines should be banned to prevent massive loss of life. Obviously 26 lives lost is heinous, but are ten lives lost OK? Ten rounds was the limit under the ban enacted in 1994 (after which Colombine occurred). Some governors say now only seven rounds are acceptable. So are seven lives lost acceptable to Piers? By falsely tying saving lives to the number of rounds allowed in a magazine Morgan inadvertently answered that he would prefer zero rounds in the chamber, using his logic and the standard of measurement he himself established. Excuse the irony that more lives were saved when good guys with equal rounds showed up at the scene — but note that this was omitted.