Overreaction to Overreaction

The long and often passionate reactions to the previous post provide a fair amount of support for its point.

I never advocated taking away guns, even AR-15s, but when I suggested that perhaps magazine sizes and modifications were excessive, there were accusations, an insistence that Americans needed to have mass-murder weapons as a last defense against domestic “tyranny,” and comparisons to gun control by Nazi Germany. But the plain fact was that Germany relaxed the gun control measures imposed by the Versailles Treaty of 1919 in 1928, well before Hitler came to power. In 1939, long after Hitler came to power, the Nazis did change the laws to forbid firearms to Jews.

And there was the straw man argument that other weapons kill – which they do, but not anywhere close to the continuing, persistent magnitude of death by guns, except, again, the domestic automobile, which we regulate heavily, with the result that the death rate has been more than halved since its peak in 1969. Yet no one seems to think that those life-saving measures have restricted their freedom that much.

Then there were the citations of law – most dating back a century or two – with claims that they support pretty much uncontrolled possession of firearms, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that some restrictions on firearms are Constitutional. All these also ignore the fact that in fact firearms were restricted at the time of the Constitution – restricted to white males, largely land-holding white males. The Founding Fathers also provided the mechanisms for change in what they wrought, which suggests rather strongly that they never intended the Constitution to be an unchanging iron-clad straightjacket.

Since that post, we’ve had yet another mass shooting by a man – and since virtually all mass shootings seem to be by angry men, perhaps we should just limit the possession of weapons of mass murder to women, except that would then create even more angry men with yet another motive to play self-appointed vigilante for grievances real and imagined.

I’m frankly getting tired of the hue and cry from the far right claiming that even comparatively minor restrictions on weapons and who can use them is some massive reduction of freedom. Those opposing some control of on such weapons are all too often the same crew that cite “right-to-life,” but somehow seem to think that massive restrictions on women are justified, but minor restrictions on gun owners are not.

I suggested a few restrictions on who could use what kind of firearms, and the reaction was, as I pointed out, an overreaction, the same kind of overreaction now occurring in Congress, with the likely and predictable result that no real change will occur and that the mass killings will continue.

8 thoughts on “Overreaction to Overreaction”

  1. Damon says:

    Like you, I’m actually a registered republican, but consider most of my political decisions somewhat near center.

    However, I find that I can attack both parties when making a point. In the five most recent comments you’ve left, just lamented the fact that either the ‘right’, or conservatives, ate the party of the ‘no’, or are ineffective to the part of being complicit in these atrocities, by they’re beliefs. As if passing this truly magnificent legislation, or gun control, will stop humans from doing bad things to each other. It won’t.

    And, to carry the attack to the other side of the isle, “I’m getting tired of the hue and cry” from the far left, slapping a label on a piece of legislation, and assuming the stupid masses will accept it will actually accomplish anything close to what this country truly hungers for. ACTION that impacts violent acts, not just those from poor children in schools, but those committed by the thousands of black on black crime, that the media tends to ignore.

    I’m not sure what the answers are, but continued attacking each other across the isles, proves this has been for awhile at least, an ineffectual government.

    1. KTL says:

      Damon, I feel you are arguing this one in bad faith, or at least in bad risk management practices.

      The argument against reasonable regulations and/or controls against harm and risk is usually one of “this won’t STOP XYZ from happening”, etc. LEM’s example of car safey (seat belts, disc and anti-lock brakes, etc.) is illustrative. The controls implemented never were advertised as elimination of a risk; i/e, ‘no one will ever die in a car again if we adopt these engineering solutions’. Rather, the changes and controls are administered for the reduction in harm and risk. That’s the point and always has been. They (reasonable gun policies) are to reduce the amount and severity of deaths and injuries that come from our current gun policies. These proposals are not, and never have been, a promise to eliminate harm/deaths entirely. That is not logical or supported by any reasonable prior evidence.

      Be reasonable. I am sure you make risk decisions every day that reduce the likelihood of a bad outcome and you understand they do not eliminate that outcome from possibility.

      1. Damon says:

        I agree. Nor was I even arguing with anyone. I was staying on topic, of overreaction to overreaction, which was commentary to question posed whose subject was overreaction. I said I neither agree with one side or the other, I just happen to think any course of action slapped with a silly label, will still have little to no effect of people doing bad things to other people.

      2. R. Hamilton says:

        I don’t think the argument based on other methods of mass murder is flawed. The basic element of mass murder is NOT any particular tool, but a willingness or desire to commit it.

        Deprived of any given means, both prospective mass murderers and prospective suicides (sometimes the former also seems to be the latter, but wanting to go with either revenge or publicity) could find other means. The problem remains their willingness to commit such acts. If firearms suddenly all vanished from private ownership, some other method(s) would likely become just about as frequent and deadly. Multiple alternative methods exist, which can be improvised with reasonable availability (uncontrolled or minimally controlled) of materials, and varying levels of skill required (some with no more skill than a firearm).

        The far larger death toll in any event is NOT mass shooters of the sort that makes the news, but all the no more than locally reported inner-city murders – the vast majority with handguns, and even if not mass murder per se, callously indifferent (or even intending to shoot relatives of the target) to who else might get shot. But cleaning that out is not just a matter of placing restrictions on people whose initial position is to obey the law, it’s the rather more difficult, more substantial, and less posturing matter of going after people who have already demonstrated a willful disregard for the law. And much of that is in locales dominated by a political class that at best seems to think they’d alienate their base if they took direct action against the problem.

        Read the FBI crime stats, which break down murders by type of weapon, firearms deaths by type of weapon and whether murder or suicide, etc. IMO they do NOT support the prevailing narrative in the “mainstream” media.

        Perhaps any correlation between AR-15’s and mass murder originates with the MISTAKEN commonplace belief that it’s more dangerous than other firearms; and it LOOKS similar to the military M-16, so people already not right in the head gravitate to it. Maybe we should even be grateful for that, because if they picked something more effective and less cosmetically gratifying, the outcomes might be even worse.

        There ARE strategies that could avoid reducing liberty for the law-abiding and sane, while significantly reducing body count. Sadly there’s little political advantage to be gained (by either party perhaps) by something that actually works; because political advantage is never about accomplishing anything except as a means to come out on top of the opposing side.

  2. Mike says:

    As always, I thank you for your reasoned arguments and well thought out posts. These days I try to avoid any discourse with anybody and also, sadly, can’t bring myself to spend much time watching current events because of the gratuitous polarity of any argument. If only everyone could actually think reasonably and compassionately for all fellow human beings without a constant devolution into absolutes one way or the other…

    1. Tom says:

      It seems to me that you are correct that one cannot find a bland ‘Sargent Friday’ type of news outlet (“Just the facts’). That maybe why the ridiculous statements on the Social Media are turned to by the majority; more entertaining and multifaceted and one can ignore the contrary views posted to one’s own remarks.

      It does not take me long to view the headlines from DW, Bloomberg, Japan Times, The Hill etc. and then go to authoritative sources to find the facts (if they exist). I used to do this daily but like you the negative and ridiculous gets to overwhelm me.

  3. Bill says:

    It is easy to lament the loss of independent journalists who seek the truth. But we should look at the changes in the laws that caused this. Now that there are no limits on how many media outlets a company can own, news is not journalism but a revenue stream. What is printed is based on profits. There aren’t enough people who are willing to pay for the “facts” to make it profitable. Plus, the facts are nearly as entertaining as attacking the other side. Attacks are also cheaper to produce. They can be outsourced around the globe to the lowest bidder.
    We need to follow the chaos to see who benefits. I bet it is the same people who run the generational ads pitting the boomers against the millennials. Anything to keep the focus away from real problems where the solutions would upset the powerful.

  4. R. Hamilton says:

    For someone who thinks there can be meaningful measures focused on mental health, security, and crime and responsible behavior (and further controls on sales and transfers), rather than on banning anything, see

    I don’t object strongly to raising the age to buy an AR to 21, nor about universal background checks and waiting periods for certain firearms; I think they’re obnoxious but until we get the dangerous (not implying that all are!) mentally ill (often damaged/abused/neglected at a young age) under control and return to actual parenting, better than nothing…IF AND ONLY IF the gun control advocates don’t keep wanting more. Unfortunately, they do keep wanting more, and THAT as much as anything is why they’re met with an absolutist “Hell, no!” response. Many of them are absolutists too, just incrementally because overtly would not be feasible; but they’re only honest about that when talking to a like-minded audience off the record, or when they slip and say it with their outside voice.

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