The real reason that gun control failed in the Senate

One chart says it all:

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It is emotionally satisfying for various liberal hacks and politicians to blame ideology and pressure groups for the failure of gun control in the Senate. But the reality is that Americans increasingly feel safe with a gun in the home and see it as a viable means of self-defense. Gun control bills are seen as potentially threatening that freedom. In addition, it is worth pointing out as I did in this post that crime is way, way down overall despite the increase in guns, so any attempt to limit law-abiding people from buying guns will not be popular.

And by the way, the claim that 90 percent of people favor background checks is highly misleading. As in every poll, it depends on how you ask the question, and it is also worth pointing out that the vast majority of legal gun sales already involve background checks.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

16 thoughts on “The real reason that gun control failed in the Senate

  1. Very true Geoff. Good to point out that violent gun crime is also way down. This whole debate is almost completely devoid of reality. It’s only about how we feel, not about facts. A war of emotions between those deluded that guns make them feel safer and those deluded that guns make them feel less safe. The reality is that guns don’t make you more safe, and they don’t make you less safe. Every gun fatality, (and every deterred crime) is an aberration resulting from the confluence of many random factors, which on a whole, will not be influenced at all by any half baked gun control scheme. Maybe if all guns were outlawed, or everyone carried guns everywhere, we would see something measurable. Anything else is a total waste of time and resources.

    The simple fact that no one can see, is that we live in the safest, most peaceful, most secure civilisation in the history of mankind, and violence is decreasing! So go out and buy a gun, not because you are going to use it to protect your family, because that chance is very rare, just as rare as your kid getting ahold of it and shooting himself. Get the gun because guns are awesome, to feel the power of it, the primal weight of life and death in your hands! The thrill of the hunt, the kill, the confidence and swagger it will give sitting tucked on your hip, concealed in your purse. It’s a shot of seratonin more powerful than Prozac.

  2. “Get the gun because guns are awesome, to feel the power of it, the primal weight of life and death in your hands! The thrill of the hunt, the kill, the confidence and swagger it will give sitting tucked on your hip, concealed in your purse. It’s a shot of seratonin more powerful than Prozac.”

    Nate, I agree with most of your comment, but these phrases above are simply not true. Most gun owners do not actually carry guns, so they are not swaggering with the gun tucked on their hips or concealed in their purses or anywhere else. Most guns are safely locked up at home. Guns are tools. I feel no more primal feeling when wielding a gun than when I wield a knife to cut up a piece of cheese or when I wield a shovel to clear the snow. If anything, I feel a lot of respect when using a gun and am extremely careful to make sure it is not loaded. My feelings towards a gun are pretty much the same as my feelings toward a snowblower: it is a potentially dangerous tool that needs to be treated with respect, stored correctly and used rarely.

  3. Geoff, I probably shouldn’t have taken off on that tangent at the end of my comment, because it is a bit unrelated. I didn’t mean to say that gun owners feel this way about their guns, but that this is the best reason to buy guns.

    I think that buying them as “tools” for self-defense, is not really nescessary from a practical point of view, as the possibilites either for good or harm are so remote as to render them useless. But you may feel differently. I think this is an illusion, but nevertheless a usefull illusion, because guns give the feeling of security and confidence, which is important emotionally.

    As “tools” for the hunt is also very emotional. Hunting is not a practical hobby. It taps into powerful primal urges that are very fulfilling from an emotional perspective.

    But you did mention the feeling of “respect.” This is also emotional. There is something sacred about guns and sacred about violence, something sacrificial, also about the knives you use to cut your meat.

    And there is something artistic about guns, the craftsmanship, the quality. This sort of attention to detail is missing in almost every other facet of our consumer buying habits. But guns get the royal treatment, and that is something we should apply to many aspects of our lives

  4. Nate, OK, I can mostly agree with that. It is probably worth throwing a bone to our liberal lurkers out there that there are people, in my opinion an extreme minority, who have a kind of psychosexual attachment to guns. I have seen this with my own eyes. I am definitely not one of them. I shoot about twice a year just to make sure the guns are still working and to give my kids a bit of practice. Otherwise, they are safely locked up in the Geoff B household. But, it is worth noting, that my wife can get to the safe, unlock it and have it ready to shoot in 30 seconds. A useful thing for both of us to know when I am traveling.

  5. “liberal lurker,” perfect description of me I’m ashamed to say. To bad you get no pleasure from your guns, that it is as meaningless emotionally for you as a burglar alarm, a mere precaution. Though many wouldn’t admit it, I think your’s is a minority view. Guns fill an emotional need for many, and it’s not unhealthy in my opinion. It’s a passion that needs to be bridled obviously, but when a father trains his son to handle a gun with reverence and restraint, a boy becomes a man in a society that has become thoroughly emasculated. We must cling to our guns and religion or we loose our soul.

  6. I agree that this whole debate is stupid and a waste of political capital. I would like to point out what appears to be a false correlation in your post though. Couldn’t a well reasoned person feel safer with a gun in their home and also support background checks and limitations on weapon types?

  7. I grew up in rural Alaska, and there are two things many rural Alaskans love – their dogs and their guns. However, 90% of the gun owners I knew (which was like, 98.5% of the people I knew) were careful, cautious, and considerate around guns. They really had no emotional need for guns – they saw them as tools.

    However, there was that 10% that either fits Nate’s stereotype or were overly attached and even a little psycho about their guns. I think Nate overstates his case, but those people do exist and I’m not sure we can ever really do anything about them short of drastic de-arming of everyone (and if the federal government tried something like that, I’m guessing the Alaska Independence Party, which calls for Alaskan secession, might suddenly gain in membership).

  8. Stan, I think that may very well be the case. People very well could feel safely defended, even after having a background check. I think the general fear, however, is that many people feel that a gun roundup is an inevitability, either on the near or distant horizon, and it bothers them that the government has a detailed list of homes with firearms (or people who have purchased them). They want to be able to own a firearm, and not have to tell anyone about it.

  9. Nate, you say that the possibility for needing a weapon for defense is so remote as to be useless. I have to disagree. My husband has had to use a weapon to prevent a crime four times, my son twice, and my daughter-in-law once when some one kicked her front door in and she was home alone, and these were all in “safe”, law abiding areas. However, all this is beside the point. The Second Amendment is not about hunting, target shooting or home defense, it is about something far more important. It is about the right to protect yourself from a tyrannical government and for national defense. If you doubt this, read what the Founding Fathers had to say about it.

  10. “They want to be able to own a firearm, and not have to tell anyone about it.”

    Yes, it’s about being a free person, and not a serf.

  11. I would encourage all people still reading this thread. I don’t agree with all of it, but it is the best analysis of the gun control debate that I have seen. There are even many things that our liberal lurkers will like (I definitely don’t agree with everything in this editorial. For example, I think there is zero chance of such a thing as common sense gun control coming from Washington).

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324493704578430672176449846.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

  12. When I spoke of the emotional allure of guns, I wasn’t referring to some minority of psychos, but more to the subconscious allure of power and control that weapons give to everyone who has them, particularly those who are extremely catious with them. They, even more than the virtuosic gunslinger, recognise the frightening power of their possession, and they feel, even if it is only subconsciously the seratonin inducing gravity of their position.

    Margaret, that is a remarkable story. Perhaps you are correct that guns are a pragmatic choice in some cases. But the second part of your comment about the 2nd Amendment illustrates another side of the emotional allure of guns. They are powerful symbols of our freedom, and a tangible reminder that the government is by the people, for the people, not vice versa.

    I just wish, for the sake of my uptight fellow liberals, that Tea Party types would see guns as an important symbol of freedom rather than a pragmatic preparation for immenent government collapse, which makes you look like complete freaks to my fellow liberals. Of course I know that you reciprocate those feelings towards us.
    That is why I’m a monarchist, but that’s another topic.

  13. Nate, re:

    “I just wish, for the sake of my uptight fellow liberals, that Tea Party types would see guns as an important symbol of freedom rather than a pragmatic preparation for immenent government collapse, which makes you look like complete freaks to my fellow liberals.”

    We actually do see it as an important symbol of Freedom, but we’re portrayed the other way by the media. Regardless of the intelligent arguments we put forth, we will continue to be portrayed that way. Pretty tough to get your true voice heard when it’s filtered through NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, NY Times, WaPo, LA Times, etc. We’ve got what? Fox News? WSJ, kinda?

    I’m afraid we will continue to look like freaks to your fellow liberals as long as they choose to see us that way.

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