Regarding the fact that an 18-year-old can go to war, but should not be able to own a semi automatic weapon that he might otherwise used in war, it’s also worth noting that the 18 year old in the military is subject to intense training and strict discipline. He does not have the freedom to use his gun in self-defense except as part of a regulated authorized and highly directed military operation.

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I was going to make the same comment. And if I am not mistaken, nor can that 18 year-old take that weapon just anywhere he wants, without any supervision. I think that may be what you call a "well regulated militia."

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Jun 5, 2022·edited Jun 5, 2022

I am a strong advocate and activist for reducing gun violence since I was 12 and lost a friend to gun violence. I am now 75, so have been engaged in the movement to reduce gun violence for a lifetime. I have also received formal training in mediation, effective debate and argumentation, negotiation, and diplomacy. An important learning from that training is the importance of always trying to begin conversations by establishing a commonly shared objective for the conversation. Do not open the conversation by refuting another’s point of view. You are most likely going to harden that person’s view as they react to defend it. Rather it is better to start from a point both sides can agree on.

It is why when discussing the issue of gun violence i try to start the discussion by framing it in term’s of - “Reducing gun violence would be a good thing for everyone. So let’s see if together we can imagine ways that might reduce gun violence that might be effective. What do you think might be solutions we could try?”

Depending upon the size of the group involved in the conversation and their level of emotional maturity and education, I might try to establish some ground rules such as:

For the first portion of the discussion no one is allowed to crticize a suggested approach by saying why an approach can’t be used or wouldn’t work. First we are trying to get all the suggestions on a list. Regardless of where or from which side the suggestion comes, just get it on the list using the suggestor’s own words.

The second step of the discussion would be to have the group evaluate each suggestion as to if it might reduce the risk of gun violence. This is not trying to rank the suggestions or say by how much it would reduce gun violence. It is only to determine if it MIGHT reduce the risk of gun violence by any amount.

Now we have a list of things that might be tried to reduce gun violence the group has agreed might work if tried. We are now ready to examine each one to determine first how effective it might be and if it is possible, not desirable only possible, to try it.

Each step in this process tries to start from a point of agreement moving towards an agreed objective of seeking to work together to try to find mutually agreed ways that might reduce the risk of gun violence.

Everyone agrees gun violence is a bad thing and less risk of it is better than more risk. Not even the most avid supporters of gun rights and the second amendment wants to see more gun violence that only undermines their position on the importance of preserving their right to purchase and possess a gun. So, lets try to start discussions on the issue from where there should be a point of agreement. Gun violence is bad for everyone and less of it is better than where we are at present or yet even more of it.

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Starting any discussion on any issue by telling the other person why they are wrong is a lousy technique for winning others over to your point of view. Talk to anyone who has attended effective training for door knocking and telephone campaigns for a candidate and they will say they have learned this in that training.

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Really excellent approach stressed here...

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While I disagree with "gun control" as policy, because real "gun control" begins with the person, this IS an effective way to open up to discussion.

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I’m on your side and agree with these arguments and your public health approach. It’s pretty clear, though, that gun lovers—not responsible gun owners and users but the ones who reject any form of regulation—aren’t interested in solving this problem. Why talk to them?

Rational argument vs emotional attachment. No contest.

Actual experience vs. magical thinking. No contest.

Real vulnerability vs. fantasies of power and control. No contest.

Get rid of the filibuster and the Citizens United decision and see what happens

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Great points, Mr. K, but allow me to add a follow-the-money observation as well.

I am fairly certain that most of my friends, liberal and conservative alike, will understand and respect the points you have made, just as 93% agree with expanded background checks. But what good is public opinion in the face of NRA obstruction?

The NRA is a one-issue organization. They care nothing at all about health care, unemployment, the price of gasoline, abortion, foreign policy (except when they can make a buck with more gun sales), energy conservation, etc. - they're concerned with any policy that affects gun sales, period. For example, expanded background checks could curtail overall gun sales - plus the passing of such a law might soften the perception by the public (and especially senators) of the NRA as an impenetrable fortress of "gun rights" - so, the NRA vehemently opposes such legislation. And so of course it doesn't pass, even after the slaughter of 20 children sitting in their classrooms.

Why? When nearly all Americans support a policy like this, how can it fail to pass the Senate?

It's simple: The 93% of Americans who support expanded background checks also have a gigantic list of other issues that will affect their votes - issues like abortion, school funding, who sits on our federal courts, economic policies, etc. - so while they may strongly favor expanded background checks, they will still vote yes for a senator who voted against it, simply because that senator represents many of their other concerns.

Until and unless enough of us figure out a way to overcome this NRA obstruction - or pass election finance reform legislation - we will continue to see our children slaughtered, no matter how many of us favor reform.

(PS - "Election finance reform" - did you catch that?)

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The NRA has only the power it can buy, more or less. As someone else pointed out, 42 Republican senators won't vote for reasonable gun safety laws because they are beholden to the NRA for large donations. These senators and the NRA, jointly and separately, have convinced their base that it should be a states' rights issue at best and, usually, that "guns don't kill people, people do."

In addition, in strongly Republican House districts like SC-7, many Democrats will vote in the Republican primary for the best Republican, since Democrats haven't won here in decades. In our district, that will be Tom Rice, whose only truly ethical decision was to vote to impeach Trump the second time. Otherwise, Rice is against all the sensible changes that you mentioned. It's scary, but even though I am an officer of the local Democratic Party, I have to say that until we can field very strong candidates and convince the base to vote for their own best interests, they are right. The strongest candidate running against Rice, for example, is backed by Trump and has a record of poor decision making and not showing up in the state legislature. Rice is only one example, but a telling one.

In brief, it's about a lot more than the NRA.

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How can we have a reasoned conversation with the 42 Republican members of Congress who have accepted $millions from the NRA? Starting with Mitt Romney, who accepted $13,647,676 from the NRA, through Richard Burr--$6,987,380, Marco Rubio--$3,303,355 and the list goes on and on. The pious murmerings of Mitch McConnell who took $1,267,139 from the NRA are meaningless in light of his hypocrisy. All of the 42 Republican Members of Congress who received lavish payouts from the NRA have refused to act on behalf of our children--and adults--by passing gun safety legislation, Assault rifles were specifically designed for warfare, yet we allow gun sales of this deadly weapon of mass destruction to eighteen-year-olds!

Mediation, negotiation and diplomacy will not budge these 42 greedy Republican members of Congress who have collectively received tens of $millions from the primary lobbying body of gun manufacturers!

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While Sarah may be right, look at how indirectly she, and Nick as well, approach the difficulties.

Control Guns - rather than the people who are abusing them; blame the NRA rather than look at a political system that encourages oligarchy; accuse the legislators THEY elect because the special interest money allows for fancier campaigns.

C'mon, America - you get what you vote for. And individuals act like the country they live in and the country they live in acts like the loudest of its citizens.

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We, all of us, bought into that Second Amendment argument that citizens have a right to keep and bear arms. The phrase simply expands the first sentence of a well regulated Militia. No more, no less. Shame on those 'strict constructionist' interpreters interpreting their own personal views.

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These are well reasoned arguments, which is part of the problem with this imaginary dialogue. We need catchphrases and slogans to catch the minds of people who only listen to catchphrases and slogans. Thank you.

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If you are an originalist, a la Scalia, the permissiveness of the 2nd amendment only applies to guns available at the time the Constitution and first 10 amendment were written. This means it applies only to single-shot, muzzle-loaded long guns and hand guns.

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The USA`s gun problem goes far deeper than "gun control" or even mental health. America has a deep-rooted CULTURE problem. Your society believes that all problems can be solved by force and preferably physical force.

Children are taught from birth that "America is the most powerful country ever..." "America has the biggest and best armed forces..." "America has never lost a war..." and on and on. Your history is one of extreme violence, even amongst yourselves.

You enjoyed a WAR if independence when the majority of the British Empire moved peacefully into self government. You obliterated the Confederacy as treasonous rebels, ignoring the wonderful words of the Declaration of Independence.

America is a world bully - at least as ruthless and ignoble as Russia - and you are all proud of it. Obliterating Iraq because the 911 attacks hurt your country differs only in magnitude from entering the school where one was bullied with firearms and a lust for revenge.

Whether with firearms, explosives, toxins, knives, arrows or cars, a bizarre number of Americans will continue to kill each other for hurts real and imagined until the CULTURE of tough-guy is replaced.

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I have been doing target shooting since my army time in Finland and one thing I find peculiar here in Canada is that people can bearly hit the target from 10 yards away as when my family members with very little practice do it from twice the distance with some instruction while we are at range. I myself occasionally practice at 50m rifle line to keep up my aim. Now what would the effect be if one requirement getting the license would be to be able to hit what you are aiming for with some accuracy. I think that this would reduce the gun ownership to those who actually know how to use them and make every new applicant to practice with some form of gun until proven proficient. If the person can't agree for that, he/she shouldn't own a gun. This would raise the awareness about the firearms with the person wanting one first of all and secondly made it less risky for other people.

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Magazines! Long guns for hunting and revolvers are not the mass killer's weapon of choice because it takes time to re-load. In fact, slow re-loading firearms were what were even imaginable at the time the constitution and it's 2nd amendment were written. Bringing this forward to today could be accomplished by out-lawing the sale of gun magazines that held more than 5 rounds. Period. All higher capacity magazines were available only to the military.

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The argument that 18 year-olds can serve and carry guns in the military -- and it's therefore unfair to deny them the right to buy and carry guns on their own -- ignores the fact that those in the military are screened (screened out if a danger to themselves and others), trained, monitored and supervised in the use of firearms and not expected (permitted) to carry them in civilian settings. No comparison!

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A couple of major typos to an otherwise well reasoned piece, particularly the discussion of the First Amendment limitations and why those should equally apply to the 2nd

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I’d respectfully submit that columns like these do more to harm than good to the discussion. Gun owners understand the issues, know the data, have accepted restrictions and many support additional safeguards --- we are neither ignorant nor unsympathetic to the circumstances. Our main concern is the transparent intellectual dishonesty of gun control advocates – what becomes very clear is that many of those advocating for new restrictions view it as a first step to broader restrictions/confiscation, not the culmination of a campaign.

This was transparent after the Uvalde shooting: Trudeau moved to ban guns in Canada (which had no shooting), VP Harris advocated for banning assault weapons and President Biden discussed banning 9mm handguns --- all within a week --- while feigning ignorance why second amendment advocates would not agree to “common sense” restrictions.

If you want pro-gun advocates to take your position seriously, be honest. If you want to ban guns, say that. If you are part of the “we just want to ensure guns are owned/carried by responsible, well-trained people”, first say that … and then support policies that make it harder for young/dangerous people to get guns – but provide more, inviolable rights for law abiding gun owners. If you want to get gun owners on your side, here are some avenues:

1.) Gun laws are currently a patchwork of federal, state and local laws. If the new restrictions proposed are federal, then make the rights (concealed carry, travelling across state lines) federal as well. This is another instance of gun control advocates trying to impose as many restrictions as possible: get some limits at the federal level, then go to state and local levels for more restrictive laws. To make gun owners believe you really accept the second amendment, then force highly restrictive localities to honor it.

2.) If you really believe there should be more restrictions to ensure only “responsible” people carry guns, then create a system in which the more training/vetting/practice a gun owner has, the more rights attach. As an example, in my state you need to pass a classroom class to get a concealed carry permit. I’d be for adding a range time requirement for a concealed carry permit. In addition, if someone passes a mental health evaluation, they should be allowed to carry in additional places without restriction (i.e. if I am carrying one day and pick my daughter up from school, I don’t have to get out of my car, lock the gun in the trunk before getting within 500 feet of the school).

3.) Eliminate consequence-free red flag laws. These laws are the easiest to support and most problematic because the obvious examples (Buffalo and Uvalde) in which someone has clearly indicated that they have the means and intent of carrying out a shooting. What can be troublesome are cases in which parties use the ability to flag someone for other purposes (e.g. a mother flags a father in a child custody case as evidence of his unfitness for custody). Since red flag laws pre-emptively abridge a right, make the person submitting a red flag confiscation request civilly liable if the person who rights are being abridged is deemed to not be a threat.

I can assure everyone that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are responsible, thoughtful considerate Americans --- who are far more diligent regarding gun safety than non-gun owners give them credit for. However, when those most passionate second amendment advocates tell them that any law is really designed to take your guns --- and the President and Vice President say they want to take your guns --- don’t be surprised when average gun owners believe the second amendment absolutists over the gun control advocates.

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Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that most gun-owners use their guns sensibly and carefully. Hunting rifles, for example, are almost never used in crimes. But of course with 400 million guns in America, if even 1 percent are misused, that's still a problem: 4 million guns in irresponsible hands.

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Hunting rifles aren't???


Most, if not all, those long arms are used regularly by hunters. Because an editorializing "journalist" calls an AR-15 an "assault rifle" doesn't make it so.

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I have often wondered if racism and white people’s fear of Black people iare also involved in our unwillingness to accept stricter gun laws. Few people would admit this, but caste is a an important aspect of American life as well as an unfounded fear of others we do not know and who threaten our status. We need to be more honest about this possibility. I wonder what Nick Kristof might say about these ideas.

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I think all teachers unions should collaborate over the summer to push their Congressional representatives to pass gun legislation as you mentioned. If they don't harrass them - go on strike ! and refuse to teach until they do pass legislation. its not just kids being slaughtered, its teachers too, and if they refuse to teach, folks will notice !

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We noticed your refusal to teach for over a year

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You talkin to me ?????

You got the wrong person.......

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