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Gun Owners… Beware?

January 12, 2011

Kudos to Ruth Marcus over at the Washington Post for her spot-on op-ed this morning. This is a journalist who gets it and who doesn’t go over the top with fantastical notions of mental health practitioners and military eligibility. She gets to the heart of this event and its policy implications, calls for a perfectly reasonable cap on magazine capacity, and doesn’t get out of breath arguing the dangers of guns.

She also quite succinctly gets at the political climate around gun control:

The modern politics of gun control do not favor those who back restrictions. Success, such as it is, consists of defending existing limits, not imposing new ones. Democrats were scared off from the issue after passing the assault-weapons ban and then losing control of Congress in 1994. Candidate Obama vowed to reinstate the assault weapons ban; President Obama, after a single year in office, had signed into law more repeals of federal gun-control policies than did President George W. Bush during his two full terms, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

As a matter of political self-preservation, I would not advise Democrats to mount a full-scale push for new gun-control measures.

At least political hay is being made (and oh, Republicans, don’t you even dare try to claim that you don’t capitalize on tragedy to pass laws) now. Hopefully Lautenberg and McCarthy make some headway on banning high-capacity magazines. It’s a good, small step that shouldn’t be too scary to pass.

Too bad the Gun Owners of America don’t see it like that:

“There is no okay number with Carolyn McCarthy and her allies in the Congress,” Velleco said. “They will only start with the number. . . . If the government can ban magazines with 10 or more rounds, it can ban a magazine that holds five or more rounds. There is no way to stop the arbitrariness of that sort of legislating.”

Here’s a thought: let’s cross that bridge when we get to it. I bet Mr. Velleco will find that support, both Congressional and public, for decreasing magazine capacity starts to trail off pretty quickly after we get down to 10.

He continues:

“Who knows how many rounds a law-abiding person might need to protect themselves?”

Gosh. I bet somebody’s done some unbiased studies on the average number of rounds your typical citizen gets off in self-defense. This isn’t theology here, buddy. Just shrugging your shoulders and going “who knows?” is unacceptable – go find some data before implying that 30+ rounds is necessary to defend against an attack. Also, clarify what you think people are protecting themselves from. The next Jared Loughner? A pack of wild dogs? How will 30+ rounds help us there? Marcus again:

So a gun-carrying citizen is at the shooting, tries to stop Loughner and 10 rounds isn’t enough? A high-capacity magazine in the hands of such a bystander would be more likely to inflict more damage on other innocent observers than to take down the shooter.

Bingo. If you can’t hit him with one of the first 10, should you really be the guy holding 30 rounds in a crowd?


As a sidenote, I’d also like to call out the Washington Post’s web editors for this little graphic that I found on the home page this morning. “Gun owners, beware”? Beware what, exactly? Beware, they’re coming to take away your ability to fire 10+ rounds without reloading? Harden the fuck up and see yesterday’s remarks about inflammatory rhetoric.

It’s sweet that they didn’t feel the irony of juxtaposing that headline with “Culture of paranoia” was too much for a Tuesday.


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