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The Gun Control Sit-In

2016 June 23
by Ian Welsh

I’m in favor of some form of gun control in the US, but this sit-in is so that people who are on the no-fly list can’t buy guns.

This is a terrible idea. There is no due process to such lists. You get on them for reasons you can’t determine, and you can’t get off them.

You do not have the right to see the evidence against you, to face your accuser, or to have any sort of trial. You’re just on it, sucker, too bad.

No punishment without a fair trial is one of the cornerstones of Western liberty and civilization. The no-fly list and all similar lists are abominations which should not exist.

If you want gun control, start by banning all assault rifles and restricting clip sizes. I’d be totally fine with banning all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, with the exception of old style pistols. Hunters should be using bolt or lever action rifles and pump shotguns (at most). Maybe then they’d learn how to shoot.

I’d extend these restrictions to the police, by the way, with a few years for phase out time.

Drop the penalties for non-violent crime, jack up the penalties for any crime committed with banned weapons; criminals actually do tend to respond to such incentives.

I think there’s a strong case to be made that the US should have properly regulated militias and that the US government has failed in its duty to make sure such exist, but I am not sold on the broader 2nd amendment argument.

I do have much more sympathy than most left-wingers for the “guns against tyranny” argument, but the US is vastly armed and it hasn’t done any good. See “no-fly list” and “most incarcerated nation on Earth.” What matters in violence is organized violence.

In any case, whatever one thinks about gun control, using the no-fly list or any similar list is a terrible idea. Western civilization spent a thousand years fighting for the right to fair trials and due process. It would be wise not to confirm the adage that all you have to do to get people to beg you to take away their rights is make them a little scared.

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25 Responses
  1. Jaimie permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Kristin Hersh’s music is the only thing making any sense to me right now given the confluence of absurdity represented today by the political jokers who staged a sit-in in the House.

    This song is making the most sense:

    For shame, John Lewis. For shame, Bernie Sanders.

    Excellent post, Ian.

  2. Jeff Wegerson permalink
    June 23, 2016

    It’s at least good to see the list being dragged into some light. The list creates in effect a literal second class citizenship at best. At worst drone bait. And this idea of using it to limit guns illustrates the aspect of hanging other uses on it. Creepy mission creep.

    I agree with your stance on guns.

  3. Ron Showalter permalink
    June 23, 2016

    If it all wasn’t completely a bunch of scripted Spectacle horseshit – and I’m talking about the entire Orlando “shooting”, the ensuing hoopla AND this Congressional nonsense – then I might be a wee bit upset that former civil rights “heroes” – e.g., John Lewis – who fought against the extrajudicial discrimination of certain people by the government are now using the same tactics to fight FOR the extrajudicial discrimination of certain people by the government. Oh well…

    However, once again proving that ANYONE associated with US government power elite is a shameless whore that panders to murderers and thieves, I feel fine. Slurp it up, Johnny Boy, slurp it up!

    The most disturbing aspect here is that just like the Brexit nonsense – btw, thanks for allowing the peons the opportunity to engage in a non-binding farcical charade, PTB!! – is that the fake-left is basically now firmly on the side of their overlords.

    Yep, in addition to supporting the undemocratic monstrosity of enslavement which is all things the CIA-created EU, the fake-left now also support putting people on governmental lists and having their rights taken away arbitrarily!!!


  4. The Tragically Flip permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Agree on the policy (de)merits of what they’re fighting for. It’s a bad policy stapled onto a worse one.

    On the tactics, it’s surprisingly good for Democrats, and some kind of possible good sign that the NRA’s whip hand over them has weakened, though my cynical voice worries that it’s only because this issue overlaps with the “violate due-process for suspected terrorists” set, and if it was just a gun control qua gun control measure being pushed, Democrats would not display this much spine, zeal or unity over it (or any).

    I guess we will see the next time a white male slaughters a bunch of people if Democrats actually kick up a fuss for something that might actually reduce gun violence & death.

  5. Ron Showalter permalink
    June 23, 2016

    One point of clarification:

    The fake-left has ALWAYS been on the side of their overlords. What I meant by “firmly” was that now it’s so shamelessly overt. There’s no need for the mask anymore.

    Support something that used to cut against the most basic tenets of leftist thought? Where do we sign up?

    Again, fake-lefties, if you feel that you just have no choice but to throw your support behind causes that were formerly antithetical to your beliefs due to the just horrific, horrific violence/events you’ve witnessed, you might want to entertain the notion that you’ve been manipulated into that position.

    Oh, but I forgot, that would mean admitting that you were being played and no one is smarter/savvier than you all, right?


  6. Tzimisce permalink
    June 23, 2016

    None of the measures have any chance of passing the House or Senate. Polls seem to indicate support for some kind of action on guns, and a cursory thought to no-fly and watch list restrictions seems reasonable (I agree it is very problematic but pointing out the surface level optics). It makes the GOP look terrible that they can’t pass, let alone allow a vote, on 1) gun legislation and 2) terrorist legislation.

    The spectacle of Speaker Ryan being unable to control the House seriously damages him. What options does he have? Allow a vote and look weak or have members of the House forcibly removed? Added bonus is that this took attention away from Trump giving his much touted tour de force against Clinton. The GOP has gotten complacent, this is the first time in a very long time that the Democrats have completely out maneuvered the opposition.

  7. June 23, 2016

    The problem is that there was no possibility of getting gun control in present-day American society without tying it to fears that overlap with the fears of the gun nuts.

  8. Peter* permalink
    June 23, 2016

    What we are seeing is undemocratic opportunism in the service of the police state and gun banning not gun control which is already widespread locally and nationally, automatic weapons are already banned except for heavily regulated and licensed groups.

    When someone starts spouting nonsense about what hunters should be allowed to use and how I suspect they have never hunted or know much of anything about hunting weapons. Under these Queens rules I would have to turn in my 1905 Browning patent semi-auto 12 gauge which might save some pheasants but I doubt it would save any peasants.

  9. highrpm permalink
    June 23, 2016


    without tying it to fears … the ground works of politics.

  10. markfromireland permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Surely a 1905 Browning patent semi-auto 12 gauge is enough gun to kill a peasant so long as you hit what you’re aiming at such as one of their eyes?

    PS: “Standard” or “Special”?

  11. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 23, 2016

    *shrug* had my first rifle when I was 12, .22 bolt action.

    Never much liked hunting, myself. Haven’t touched a gun in almost 30 years. I surely have no idea what a 1905 Browning Special is nor am I going to bother to search it. Quibble expertly over what to ban, but get on it.

  12. markfromireland permalink
    June 23, 2016

    @ Ian

    Fair enough but as a general point even when armed with something dinky a good shot can do a lot of damage. I’ve been shot by somebody wielding a .22 pistol and it did a lot of damage because although there wasn’t enough velocity for the round to exit there was enough velocity for it to carom around inside doing a fair bit of damage as it did so.

  13. markfromireland permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Also as a general point – alright a statistical sample of one , caveat duly entered – pretty well every American hunting enthusiast I’ve met takes pride in their skill as a shot – they generally match how much gun they need to what they’re hunting. “Too much gun” is not an expression of praise amongst such folk. (Similarly the sort of person who shoots for sport).

    So we’re down to banning everything except “sporting guns” and PDWs?

  14. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Seems like I’m always seeing pictures of idiots running around in camos with too much rifle, but perhaps you deal with a better class of folk. Hunters I grew up with wore bright colors and generally used bolt action rifles for game.

    I think it is fair to say that some guns are better at killing large numbers of people in a short period of time than others. I recall a surgeon talking about the difference between the sort of injuries you get from an AR15 and a pistol “the bone is shattered”.

    If you have to work a bolt action (something I have done) it slows down the killing. Experts tell me that swapping clips, etc… is a time of vulnerability. I make no claim to be an expert, but I do know that killing 50 people with a bolt action rifle, all on your own, would be a lot of work and most people aren’t going to pull it off.

    I am perfectly willing to defer to experts with some sense on exactly which guns to ban. It might be a good idea to get on with it, however.

    Or not. I’m not an American.

    I have never been shot. A friend who has told me it was remarkably painless, though I didn’t get the details of what exactly he was shot with or where.

    (For a long time, I am given to understand, the most common murder weapon in Canada was the axe, because everyone had one. That’s right, a nation of axe-murderers. I’ve used an axe enough to be pretty sure that killing 50 people with an axe would be a lot of work, especially if they’re running around and whatnot. )

  15. markfromireland permalink
    June 23, 2016

    If we are down to banning everything except “sporting guns” and PDWs surely the legislatively simplest thing would be to extend the provisions of the 1934 and 1968 legislation IOW titles I and II.

    Note I’m not saying anything about what’s politically simple or feasible or expedient for the moment I just want to know if extending the provions of titles I and II is the simplest way of legislating for the problem.

  16. wayoutwest permalink
    June 23, 2016


    It’s a standard, the specials are quite valuable, my dad bought in the ’50s and it brought down many tasty pheasants in Michigan where even then a plug was mandated to reduce the load to three shots. I don’t hunt anymore but the pheasants cackling in the neighbors field next to my property are tempting and I also have a 7mm Chilean Cavalry Mauser that’s better suited for big game although it is a military weapon from another era. Peasants have nothing to fear from hunters and their weapons but the upper classes might.

    The gun-banners want the State to do things that make them feel safe but actually have little or no affect on gun violence and even more dangerous is that they are demanding other non-violent people surrender their right to bear arms for this false security. When their nostrums prove to be ineffective they can’t admit error and demand more banning and restrictions leading to the goal, admitted by many of these people, banning all guns.

  17. Jill permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Gun nut. How we define this shows who we identify with.

    First let me say I agree with everything Ian said. In this comment I am address other people who comment using the term, “gun nut”. I find it interesting that President Obama isn’t defined as a “gun nut”. Likewise, the Congress never met a weapons sale they wouldn’t approve. We might also say that the large banking managers are gun nuts. They have after all, been caught selling weapons and attempting to hide the trail. The powerful are the largest weapons sellers on this planet. They aren’t called “gun nuts” they are called “madame or sir”. That’s just messed up.

    This was a cynical move by Democrats. It makes a mockery of the civil rights movement. People in that movement where illegally surveilled by USG. This tactic is common now against anti-war, environmental and other social justice movements. If you were black, you could be surveilled. If you are Muslim, you can be surveilled. This is the new civil rights!

    Further, I wish Democratic voters will notice that Democrats are actually capable of acting when it suits them. Although this action is sickening, Democrats are taking a “stand”. Is there some reason the could not take a stand when welfare was destroyed? When climate change was on the line? When a living wage and universal single payer was on the line? Oh no. Loyal Democrats believe their representatives are helpless in the face of evil Republicans. I would say, please note-that idea is a lie.

  18. Ramona permalink
    June 23, 2016

    I see no reason why we cannot ban anyone on nofly list or under investigation from buying guns, whether they are assault or others. Just make sure they get due process as they go on the list. What is so difficult about that?

  19. Spinoza permalink
    June 23, 2016

    Never forget the urban-rural divide on this. When you are trapped in the hood guns are an ever present nightmare. Yet when you are stuck in the sticks a gun could be what saves you from all kinds of nasty critters.

  20. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 24, 2016

    Yes. I firmly believe that rural and wilderness people need guns. I’ve lived that life (well, not since I was a teen, but that was formative). I am absolutely NOT down for banning all guns.

    There is something /wrong/ in US culture. Gun banning wouldn’t be my first choice, I’m simply not sure how to fix what is wrong with Americans so taking guns out of their hands seems wise.

  21. scruff permalink
    June 24, 2016

    I can agree with almost everything Ian says here, although I’m not sure I’d go for banning semi-automatic weapons, specifically handguns. It seems to me that in a self-defense situation a person really needs the ability to fire as many times as necessary to repel predators. It’s true of course that the armed nature of the american citizenry has not slowed the progress of tyranny, but I’m not entirely sure that justifies giving up the option to do so in the future. There is definitely a profound sickness in the American culture. At this point, fixing it may not be feasible.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is that guns can now be created with 3D printers. A this point, it’s only a matter of time before anyone who wants to can print fully automatic weapons for a few thousand dollars. And of course, having reached that milestone, the price will drop quickly.

  22. Peter* permalink
    June 24, 2016

    You may not support banning all guns but your ideology about denying other peoples rights leads in that direction because gun banning doesn’t reduce gun violence. You already stated your support for banning semi-auto hunting weapons that are not military arms so there is already drift in your demands for others to submit to this dangerous ideology. I haven’t seen calls from you or other people who believe in these false solutions to ban the police from carrying semi-auto military weapons once the public has been denied ownership and confiscation has removed them from todays owners. You also haven’t called for the US to stop selling these dangerous weapons to other countries some of whom use them on their own citizens.

  23. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 24, 2016

    Such concern trolling is beyond pathetic. Of course I’m not for the arms trade, sorry I haven’t written about it.

    Everyone thinks different rights are fundamental. Not everyone thinks walking around with military weapons is one of those rights. Especially when Americans clearly can’t handle that right responsibly.

  24. Peter* permalink
    June 24, 2016


    Is reflecting on your clear statements about supporting stripping people of their rights for a false sense of security trolling?

    Few gun rights supporters condone people walking around with assault weapons and it is rare where legal so this is a straw-man diversion that seems common today. Those who do carry any weapon to do harm are criminals not the law abiding citizens you are targeting.

    It’s interesting that you didn’t address the militarization of the police or occupying forces as some people view them. People were shown two officers of the law, in Albuquerque use AR15s to murder a homeless mentally ill man in cold blood yet they are free and these weapons are routinely carried in public by LEO.

  25. tony permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Your friend might be right about the bone shattering but it’s also irrelevant. An SMG might use 9mm but it’s an effective killing machine. What makes assault rifles so effective is the handling. Aim, fire, aim, fire… I’m not a good shot but I could put two bullets in a man sized targets every second while moving. Bolt action is aim, fire, move hand, reload, move hand, aim, fire. A gun legistlation aimed at reducing casualties from mass shootings would target military style weapons, which anyone who takes an honest look can recognize.

    However, mass shootings kill about no one. Having all kinds of idiots, crazies, drunks, criminals etc get guns without requiring requiring responsible behaviour matters a lot more.

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