256 thoughts on “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

  1. The next four years will bring good stuff! I believe. Then the baton can be passed on to Hillary for 8 more years of good stuff!

  2. I’m pretty psyched, yeah. And maybe we can have Clinton 2016, and then Corey Booker in the 2020s? Just maybe?

  3. ‎”We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

    This is my new favorite sentence.

    He also mentioned marriage equality, separately, and I’m pretty damned happy about that too.

  4. Wow, you’re really itching to try out that new Kitten Mallet setting aren’t you.

    I’m in agreement with you. I’m fine with the non-transition and hoping the new, improved, with backbone Presidenting continues.

  5. Obama’s second term might well prove that there is value in being a “lame duck.” He never has to run for reelection again, which frees him from a fear of offending specific chunks of voters.

  6. In all honesty – I wish neither Obama nor Romney was being inaugurated today.

    Romney is a big government Republican, and Obama has been on a spree trampling the Constitution. Bypassing Congress on gun control? He’s an opportunist that is just using the Sandy Hook tragedy for his own political ends.

  7. jimbot says:

    “I see that Farley has a cute cuddly kitten in his hands and I’m so joyful I’d like to pet it.”

  8. I gave Obama’s campaign $100, which is more testament to their great dunning email marketing strategy than in my faith that things will be better in the next 4 years. But ohmygod am I glad that we didn’t get Romney.

  9. I am cautiously optimistic about the next two years. Very very cautiously optimistic, but optimistic. To say more would be both troll bait and possibly changing the subject.

  10. I can’t wait for The Human Division Episode #2!

    Wait, that’s not what we’re talking about? Sorry. Please go back to the topic at hand.

  11. Mew. Farley, to me stuff means physical objects, like the stuff in the garage. If you mean poliicies, say so.
    I’m afraid that we will look back at today and wonder what happened to the good ole days of civil discourse. This will seem tame compared to the rhetoric 4 years from now.

  12. @shakauvm, you should probably go read those executive actions before you go on too much more on that particular line of argument. If you have already read them, perhaps read them again, more carefully. Which actions bypass congress? The one where he says he’ll nominate an ATF director? He’s nominating for Congress to confirm. The one where he says the CDC should study the causes and prevention of gun violence? He’s not appropriating any money, just saying that the CDC should not consider research advocacy. (Do I need to explain the background on that one to you?) On the “big three” issues of assault weapons, high capacity magazines, and universal background checks he explicitly asked Congress to act- kind of the opposite of bypassing them. Honestly, there is room for rational debate, but making things up and claiming that something that is clearly not true is true is not rational debate.

    Sorry, John, if you do not want this thread to go that direction. But I cannot stand to see gun advocates just making things up and using that to dictate the terms of our debate on this issue.

    On the topic at hand… I am happy to see Obama inaugurated again and really liked the speech. I also sincerely hope the Republicans find their better sense, figure out how to deal with their fringe, and become an intelligent opposition. That, unfortunately, isn’t looking too likely.

  13. I think Obama will continue to do a good, thoughtful job, irritating the left by never going far enough, enraging the right by his very existence. As the inability of the teabaggers to make a deal with him on anything becomes more and more evident, I suspect he’ll go further left because that’s where the people he can work with are. I also suspect we’ll have someone n the Republicans declaring their 2016 candidacy before the end of summer 2013, and that neither Hilary Clinton nor Joe Biden will be running for president in 2016 (health and age issues).

  14. P.S. John, your bio on the Barnes & Noble web site is was way out of date (your latest novel is Fuzzy Nation?) and the picture…well, when I looked at it I frankly thought, “Who’s that?” In the photo you’re clean shaven, no glasses, etc. Definitely not the churro-waffle-eating Scalzi we all know. ;)

  15. I was impressed with his speech. The message of inclusiveness, specially the direct outreach to the LGBT community was great (as was his explicit rejection of libertarian selfishness). Now to see if he can follow through on any of it.

  16. It’s a sign of one of my fomrer lives as I’m watching the Congressional Luncheon and thinking, “Shit that room would be a bitch to run an audio console in.” Boehner is a tool, but he’s not idly emphasizing how very bad the acoustics in Stauary Hall are.

  17. I’ve got plenty I can complain about, government-wise, but I’ll save that for later. I’m happy Mr. Obama was re-elected.

  18. I would be a lot more excited about Obama’s presidency if we could find some way to fire all of congress and start over. Obama can’t very well be the agent of change he wants to be if he’s blocked at every turn by that worthless collection of lobby-owned career politicians.

  19. Cloud:
    “Sorry, John, if you do not want this thread to go that direction. But I cannot stand to see gun advocates just making things up and using that to dictate the terms of our debate on this issue.”

    I’m a gun owner, and I read the memorandum and largely take no issue with it. However, gun owners don’t have a monopoly on the business of making things up. Brady Campaign a classic example of a never ending stream of lies and criminally-fudged statistics.

    Back to Obama, I think the underlying issue with gun owners (and pro-civil rights folks) is even the appearance of unilateral executive power applied to constitutional rights. This isn’t the only issue. Let’s not forget the prioritization of “official” communications over citizen traffic. Not particularly damaging in the right hands, but catastrophic in the wrong. Same goes for drone striking U.S. citizens. No one thinks that at least two of those guys didn’t have it coming; however unilateral execution and then telling the judicial branch to kick rocks is disconcerting.

  20. shakauvm wrote: Obama has been on a spree

    You know, I hear this often and I wonder about it. What do you mean? What has he been spending on? Seriously hoping we can have a conversation on this because I just don’t see what this means, even though it is repeated frequently?

  21. “Same goes for drone striking U.S. citizens. No one thinks that at least two of those guys didn’t have it coming; however unilateral execution and then telling the judicial branch to kick rocks is disconcerting.”

    Yes, that’s it exactly. The issue isn’t whether or not some people needed killing, the question is whether we don’t mind bending or twisting the rules when we think we’re right. If you’d told me a decade ago that it would be a Democrat president who’d first authorize drone strikes against US citizens I’d have thought you were high.

  22. The best possible outcome, given the options (including third parties) and I hope that his lack of need to campaign again in two and a half years will leave him in a position where he can stand up for what he believes in, even if it doesn’t always jibe with my own stances.

    At least it’s another four years of a speaker I can stand to listen to for more than ten seconds at a time.

  23. My wish for the next four years is that Obama be even half as liberal as Fox News thinks he is.

    I don’t think I’m going to get my wish, sadly.

  24. John, my concern is that he’s bypassed Congress on several issues that really should have gone through them. Last summer, when he posted people to positions that required Senate approval, except when the Senate is in recess. The Senate was not in recess, but the President’s remark was, “I decide what recess is.” struck me as a bit aristocratic and that he really didn’t need the Senate. (Didn’t Augustus make the same decision back in the 20’s BCE?) Then, there are the Executive Orders that he writes that bypass legislation Congress has made, yet have the force of law. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I disagree vehemently with his stance on gun control. Politics aside, the Constitution was ratified by the people through their state governments. I think it is wrong for the Executive to circumvent or negate by a stroke of a pen those provisions granted by the Constitution. I did not vote for either Obama or Romney, but I did vote, and I will live with the decision of the majority of the voters in this country. However, I still believe my fundamental rights under the Constitution are in jeopardy from this Administration. Now, if you decide to “Kitten” me, well, not much I can do. Have a great day, glad the tooth got fixed, and you’re in happy mode. Better living through chemistry.
    Joe in Sidney

  25. My wish for the next four years is that Obama be even half as liberal as Fox News thinks he is.

    I don’t think I’m going to get my wish, sadly.

    Ha!. Now you know how conservatives felt with Bush.

  26. @Sean Patrick Hazlett – We only have something over a half century of detailed economic statistics, most of that from a minority of Earth’s nations, far too small a data set to find trends and make predictions. There’s a reason Asimov put Hari Selden 30,000 years in the future, he needed that much time to amass sufficient data to work from.

  27. Unemployment is higher now than 4 years ago
    More people in poverty now than 4 years ago
    National debt much larger than 4 years ago
    3rd lowest approval rating of all first term presidents (Carter and Ford get top spots)

    Very successful first term… LOL
    Clearly a loser of the first degree. This is only acceptable and offset by the historical importance of what his term means. Without that he is nothing.

  28. Well, the President’s demonstrated once again that he has no shortage of high ideals, ideals I mostly find laudable. Today my friends and I drank a toast to those ideals not getting squelched in the static as they did the last four years.

  29. I’m glad that I got the chance to work on the 2008 and 2012 ground troops. And i fully intend to stay connected to the Obama organization. And to go all “girly” I love Michelle’s outfit!!

  30. I’m not American. I’ll say that upfront.

    I am glad Obama is US president, because Romney would have been a global disaster. All the horrors of the American right in terms of women’s rights, anti-gay marriage, etc exported wholesale by empowering local right wing parties by showing them the US is still behind repression. I think. Plus Romney’s economic plans would exacerbate the local financial crisis, it was the US market that precipitated the global crash and returning to the policies that caused it would make things so much worse for so many people.

    I’m glad for Americans that Obama is bringing them greater equality with gay marriage, “minority” rights and so on, and possibly greater public kittens by raising the possibility of stricter kitten control. His economic plans will probably help US citizens into work. Those are all things Americans deserve, and I believe he is the best man to bring them.

    However, my big fears for Obama’s presidency will be he does more of the same on certain issues. That he’ll continue to suppress whistleblower rights, that he’ll continue the US’s mistreatment of people who expose US human rights abuses, that he’ll continue drone warfare and continue to harm the humanitarian aid efforts by international aid agencies by using them as a cover for covert warfare, that he’ll continue to violate other countries borders and rights, that he’ll continue the crackdown on internet freedoms, and he’ll continue the Palestinian crisis by offering military aid to Israel. These are big problems for the rest of the world. They are also things I don’t really think Obama will be doing much different from Romney.

    Obama, a good old fashioned American president, for Americans. For the rest of the world, eh, there are some things he won’t be making worse than he already is. Unlike the other guy who would do all the current bad stuff, and more besides.

  31. I have not always been very happy with this President. But given the damage done from 2000-2008 by the worst President in the history of this nation and the potential damage that his two opponents could have done I am grateful every day that he is our President. It will take a generation to start to undo the damage done by St. Reagan and Boy Blunder but we need to get a large portion of the nation who thinks Obama is a liberal or that he is on any kind of spree to wake up and see reality around them before we can hope to get back on track.

    Democratic COngressional candidates drew 1 million more votes than Republican ones last fall and remain a roadblock to progress only because of the gerrymandering of several states controlled by Republican legislatures. The GOP’s insane wing, the teabaggers that dominate the party and are destroying the nation are waning, their days are numbered. But I am old & don’t think I will live long enough to see all the destruction they have done repaired.

  32. Names:

    Given that 4 years ago the economy was in the midst of a power dive from the policies of the Bush administration, those little foxoids you trotted out are pathetically disingenuous.

    “The plane was at 10,000 ft, but now it’s only at 8,000 ft!”

    It’s tough to keep a plane from auguring in if you take over when it’s already out of control, especially when a bunch of vicious idiots keep slashing at you with box-cutters.

    Given that Obama’s administration has had so many real flaws, it’s sad that so many people people hyperventilate about the shit that’s made up.

  33. Bush the worst president? Not according to the American people. He had a higher approval rating at the end of his first term than Obama.

  34. The First Ladies were gorgeous, clothed in gorgeous colors, that are among my favorite colors.

    I’m personally pleased that we have four more Michelle Obama years, particularly four more Michelle Obama White House Christmases.

    Love, C>

  35. We could have done a whole lot worse. It gives me hope that the majority of Americans were able to look at the choice we were given and pick this guy.

  36. I’m hopeful for the next four years, although my hopes are modest. I’m pleased if things get a little bit better every year (or at least, average out like that). It doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks and it doesn’t mean that I’ll always be thrilled with everything Obama does. But I’ll always wish him the best.

    Just as a matter of statistics the odds that any election will be the most important in one’s lifetime are about 20 to 1. The main thing is to keep an even keel, and to remember that the strength and value of this nation isn’t all that dependent on the current inhabitant of the Oval Office.

  37. I did not vote for Obama nor did I vote for Romney. I had a strong feeling that Obama would win mainly because very few times in the history of the Republic has an incumbent lost. I agree with his views on the Economy and hope in the next four years he is able to bring out change that pushes us in the right direction. Being in the heath care industry I feel the health care system that he created will relay very heavily on the economy increasing. Many hospitals are struggling to meet the requirements so they are living off of investments. I also hope something can be done to improve education and decrease the cost of secondary education.
    Last I may disagree with some of the gun control policy he is putting in place I feel he is doing the best he can after being put in a very difficult position. Had the events in December not happened Gun Control would be a mute point for his presidency.

  38. Well, this was a much more fun read than a CNN comment section. Its nice to see the tinfoil hat section as a minority (right and left, both sides have this issue). Having said that, crypticmirror, I’m okay with the drone warfare–it keeps my friends and I from kicking doors in. However, it also eliminates the chance to gain intelligence assets, as no one can interrogate strawberry jam. People who have an issue with the United States’ power projection forget why we began projecting power. I’ll refrain from a patronizing head pat about Israel and the Palestinians.

    I have several issues with the President on matters of principle. What I have found interesting about him as a commander-in-chief is his caution. American presidents, traditionally, haven’t had to be particularly cautious in exercising a military option since they command the proverbial 800 lb gorilla. I participated in the Libya operation and believed it to be a responsible and cautious measured response. We put boots on the ground only to retrieve our own downed pilots. This had the dual effect of seeming a light touch–as well as committing us to nothing.

    Having read the previous comments, there are those with whom I will simply agree to disagree.

  39. It fills me with optimism, because the alternative would have been steering us into the heart of the sun.

    I just hope Obama Unchained can really get the right things done. Then 8 years of Hillary to really get us more towards the future we all dreamed about. Star Trek and not Mad Max.

  40. He’s the only one who talked sense and was willing to listen to sense. Makes sense to me. When the GOP starts offering real live practical human beings as candidates (I thought Reagan was one to be honest), I’ll consider what they have to say. Until then I stay away from placing nut cases into political office.

  41. Shayde:
    “[...] future we all dreamed about. Star Trek [...]”

    You’re going to have to put a lot of “undesirables” in shallow and packed graves for that to ever happen – then it still won’t happen.

  42. I hope he has success on his equality agenda. I have major issues with his gun control agenda and concerns about his climate change agenda. Unfortunately, as Groucho Marx said (paraphrase) governments are in the business of spotting problems and applying the wrong solution.

  43. “Then 8 years of Hillary to really get us more towards the future we all dreamed about. Star Trek and not Mad Max” – the funniest thing I have read all day, thanks for that!

  44. Then, there are the Executive Orders that he writes that bypass legislation Congress has made, yet have the force of law. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I disagree vehemently with his stance on gun control. Politics aside, the Constitution was ratified by the people through their state governments. I think it is wrong for the Executive to circumvent or negate by a stroke of a pen those provisions granted by the Constitution.

    Everybody who’s claiming Obama “bypassed Congress” should really learn the differences between executive orders and executive actions, because there’s a huge difference. What Obama issued was the latter, and there is absolutely nothing there in contravention to the Constitution. It’s stuff like providing violence awareness, training first responders, increased study of mental health issues, and devoting research into gun control that was previously blocked. Here’s the full list:

    1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
    2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
    3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
    4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
    5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
    6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
    7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
    8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
    9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
    10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
    11. Nominate an ATF director.
    12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
    13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
    14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
    15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
    16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
    17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
    18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
    19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
    20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
    21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
    22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
    23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

    Most of this stuff is supported by a vast majority of Americans, and certain parts is supported almost unanimously by Americans and by a distinct majority of gun owners. For example, increased background checks has something like 95% amongst all Americans and 80% of gun owners.

  45. I really hope that now that he no longer has to campaign, he’s going to take the gloves off and stop playing nice with the Birchers. And that speech makes me pretty optimistic about that. Stonewall! OMG!

  46. @Ozzie: as Groucho Marx said (paraphrase) governments are in the business of spotting problems and applying the wrong solution.” — Are you sure Groucho said that? It sounds neither pinpoint nor funny enough to be one of his.

  47. Also, re: gun-access control. If you don’t want government to “take away” your guns, then stop being Exhibit A for why you shouldn’t have them. (See: Sandy Hook consipiracy theorists. Ye gods and little fishies.)

  48. Unemployment is higher now than 4 years ago

    False.

    More people in poverty now than 4 years ago

    Not particularly due to Obama’s policies (see also: Bush tax cuts).

    National debt much larger than 4 years ago

    Again, due almost entirely to the policies of Bush and others.

    3rd lowest approval rating of all first term presidents (Carter and Ford get top spots)

    The difference between Obama and Clinton is a third as much as the difference between him and Carter, and half as much between Obama and Reagan. Worth noting.

  49. @gustafson – whole quote: “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies – Groucho Marx

    FYI, even though I disagree with his stance on gun control, er gun violence I have no issue with his executive orders, I think they are all reasonable and prudent.

  50. Count me as both impressed and hopeful that now he’ll get in and start throwing elbows–ideally starting with one right to LaPierre’s junk, such as it is. Physical or political, I’m happy either way.

  51. @Ozzie – Seems that was said first (1930) by a Sir Ernest Benn and is frequently attributed to Groucho. Just seems too wordy for Groucho Marx, he tended to be more succinct, wielding a scalpel rather than a cudgel.

  52. @c0yote… “You’re going to have to put a lot of “undesirables” in shallow and packed graves for that to ever happen – then it still won’t happen.”

    That’s assuming a bio-weapon won’t be created that eliminates every human with an IQ under 130.

  53. Betsy Darwin: “That’s assuming a bio-weapon won’t be created that eliminates every human with an IQ under 130.”

    Many serial killers have very high IQ’s..

  54. Quite optimistic, I think, about the President’s next four years. Unless the House GOP slides back to the center-right (its historical stance) not much legislation will hapen, but then we elect the President to run the Executive branch not be a lawmaker. Obama has been much more of a center-left President than many expected four years ago, and I am good with that and hope Hillary Clinton becomes his successor as Bill, and by extension Hillary, were the classic definition of center-left Democrats. Our nation lurches along best when our national government governs froms the center whether slightly left or right, as we the American people are not by nature extremists on either side. Being human we resist radical change and tolerate incremental change, always for the betterment of the human condition, here and abroad. Yes, I see the glass now half-full.

  55. @carmen webster buxton, “lame duck” refers to the period for Nov 5 to Jan 20 in which an incoming president cannot make any new policy, due to the provision for antiquated travel and communication technology. Ignore all the talking heads that have been calling Obama “a lame duck”.

    @shakauvm, did you even look at the Presidental Orders about gun control? The only contriversal one was requesting that a nominees for the ATF be drafted.

    I don’t think Hilary will run in 2016, did you see how warn out she was looking for being Sec State?

    As a Canadian, I’m very glad Obama was re-elected. Hopefully in the next four years his legacy will include same-sex marriage equality. Canada has had gay marriages for over a decade now, and besides the running joke of filling up with angry gay people (you need only reside in Canada of 2 weeks to get married, but must reside here for 1 year to get a divorce). From our last census in 2011, 32.5% of same-sex couples were married and 12% of those have children.

    Otherwise, I was disappointed that he kicked the can of the fiscal cliff down the road to the borrowing limit debate.

  56. @c0yote… “Many serial killers have very high IQ’s..”

    I am COMPLETELY comfortable with that signal to noise ratio. :)

  57. Politics aside, the Obamas are such an appealing family that even if I didn’t agree with most of his platform I’d be proud that they are the public face of the nation. And man alive do I love watching Joe Biden work a crowd.

    And to our host, drive careful if you’re going anywhere. There’s an 87-vehicle pile-up at I-275 and Colerain Ave, so road conditions are likely even worse north of there.

  58. quoting blogs as facts, gots to luv it!

    If said blog posts contain actual facts, then yes, that counts as presenting facts. You’re welcome to refute them as applicable.

    As our host likes to say to the emotionally-argumentative: You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

  59. Betsy Darwin: “I am COMPLETELY comfortable with that signal to noise ratio.”

    So you are pro-genocide then?

  60. Props to Obama (and the speechwriter(s)) for the “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall” bit. Nicely put.

  61. I am glad that Obama was re-elected, and I’m cautiously optimistic about his second term. I am looking forward to more good policies. I’m hoping he can make some progress on immigration, LGBT rights, and the economy.

    I also admit, it’s amazing to see people on the right wing disregard a key lesson of the Bush years: if you want to fight the administration’s policies, you have offer more than just bitter pure opposition. The right is repeating the same mistake the left made from 2000 to about 2006.

  62. A Mediated Life: Who are you speaking to? Did I miss a comment from the poster “Majority of Law-Abiding Gun Owners” where they said something especially stupid? I own several military style weapons which seem to have avoided killing anyone…I somehow doubt I own the best behaved inanimate objects in the country.

    As far as Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists…it is my opinion that a conspiracy theory is propagated by a very small group–or an individual–who possesses very little intelligence ascribing entirely too much intelligence to a person or group they don’t like. Again, these conspiracy theorists are a very small group who may have nothing to do with the gun debate.

    I have read nothing in the President’s initiatives that I have an issue with–I possess a security clearance, a background check isn’t really a problem. Most gun owners I’ve spoken with feel similarly. Further, quite a bit of what was proposed distills down to “enforce current law and do some research.” They find a way to 100% prevent incidents like Sandy Hook that doesn’t involve messing with the space-time continuum and I’ll vote for it.

    I view the rush on gun stores for weapons and ammunition as a move made by sheep responding to a set of fairly moronic shepherds.

    Words mean things, and generalizations are especially dangerous words.

  63. @c0yote…

    Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”. I don’t see anything in there about idiots. But as you said, this star trek utopia won’t happen. (Nor will humanity as a whole survive for much longer.) Unless, of course, something magical comes along and wipes out a gigantic chunk of the lowest common denominator. Which isn’t likely. But one can dream… :)

  64. For the record, I am against people just making shit up and calling it an argument no matter what side of any particular issue they support.

    @Krusatta, I sincerely wish that more gun owners like yourself would speak up. I am starting to see that happen now, but it seems like for the most part the “pro-gun” side of the debate (for lack of a better word) has been left to some pretty extreme people. And I have been out specifically searching for other voices because although I favor more gun regulations I don’t want to exist in an echo chamber on this issue. Most of the arguments against the proposed regulation on high capacity magazines, for instance, seem to have lost touch with some fundamental facts of history, to put it mildly.

  65. I don’t know. I see our country heading more towards the “Demolition Man” future.

    Lenina Huxley: Ah, smoking is not good for you, and it’s been deemed that anything not good for you is bad; hence, illegal. Alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat…
    John Spartan: Are you shitting me?
    Moral Statute Machine: John Spartan, you are fined one credit for a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute.
    John Spartan: What the hell is that?
    Moral Statute Machine: John Spartan, you are fined one credit for a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute.
    Lenina Huxley: Bad language, chocolate, gasoline, uneducational toys and anything spicy. Abortion is also illegal, but then again so is pregnancy if you don’t have a licence

  66. @Cloud, the NRA has quite a bit of funding from gun manufacturers and the sort of crazy conservative who likes to throw money at anything to the right of Attila the Hun; if you’re not the sort of gun owner who gives that a thumbs up, your voice isn’t amplified by that amount of money.

    That’s assuming a bio-weapon won’t be created that eliminates every human with an IQ under 130.

    IQ is not an absolute measure of human intellectual ability; it’s intended to reflect the average intelligence with an age group, and the standard deviation is, IIRC, currently 10-15, which means that Betsey’s magical deathbomb is going to take out a lot of people with 130+ IQs and leave some of the squeakers to survive. Then, since this magical deathbomb can instantly determine IQ, it will then immediately reset the standard score of 100 as to the mean of the surviving population, kill off a bunch more of those……

    One would expect somebody who sees herself as part of the Future Elite to know that much, but given that this is someone who thinks an IQ of, say, 120 is “stupid” and is completely blithe about killing the entire population of those with any kind of mental retardation, guessing we’re talking about either a massive troll or someone who would be wiped out in the exact fantasy doomsay she’s drooling over.

  67. @ Cloud: Thank you for the implied compliment. I believe much of the polarity around the gun debate centers around money a la mythago’s comments. In my military service, firearms were (and are) treated as tools. They were attached no more significance by those in my various commands than an electrician attaches to a particular screwdriver. In my personal life, I enjoy firearms as a particularly interesting machine that punches holes in a target base on my own abilities. Like darts.

    Yes, I own an M-4 style weapon. I also own several other military pieces including a Kentuckey Long Rifle replica. In my civilian experience a high-capacity magazine is a convenience for target shooting (I no longer have junior enlisted guys on whom to foist off the chore of loading magazines).

    The only truly spurious argument I have heard in relation to the 2nd Amendment is this nonsense about “well, they only had muskets back then…so it shouldn’t apply to modern weapons.” We must remember that a farmer with a musket in in the latter 18th century was exactly as well-armed as the average soldier. This, of course, speaks to the intent of the drafters of the Constitution; a question which should be resolved by either the amendment process or judicial review.

    I fought for this republic, bled for it a bit, too. But it IS a republic, and should the republic decide that certain of my firearms are illegal then I will turn them in or make some sort of modern art out of them. I won’t agree with the majority; but that isn’t the point–as Aristotle said, a society is endowed with the highest authority to achieve the best good.

  68. I had some hopes for the first Obama administration, most of which (but not all) were disappointed. I never expected him to be a true progressive, but I was more or less willing to settle for a third Clinton administration, which is mostly what we got. From my point of view, his worst failing was as a a negotiator: He always opened with what he thought he could settle for, not with what he wanted. This is a guaranteed losing strategy whether you’re trying to pass a bill or buying a carpet. I believe he’s learned his lesson at last, although the desire to appear reasonable will always tempt him to premature concession.

    Nevertheless, any election always offers a choice between evils, and the choice was clear: Not Romney, and not any of the other implausible Republican alternatives to Romney. So good luck, Barack Obama, and may you not disappoint me too bitterly. Today’s speech augurs well, at least.

  69. I always interpreted Star Trek as being based upon understanding and cooperation and a desire for peace. Why is this somehow being equated with high IQs?

    I think anyone who’s seen the inside of a law firm, or an investment bank, or a tech company, or one of any number of nerd gatherings can confirm that high intelligence does not keep people from harming others or prevent them from squabbling over petty differences rather than working toward larger goals.

  70. eselle28:

    Yep, it’s yet another example of why Dungeons & Dragons makes intelligence and wisdom separate stats.

  71. Ugh, the thing I like the least about all comment threads is how easily they can get jacked into completely off-topic territory. So I will now continue to push into off-topic territory…

    1) The “IQ Bomb” is an epic failure of an idea. People don’t adopt and push for bad ideas because they are dumb. They do so because it is incredibly difficult to get someone with a closed mind to change or even admit to something being arguable. Some of the ideas they have, lmay have even been the right answer 20-30 years ago but they are not helpful now, only they’re stuck with them.

    You don’t fix problems be killing “teh stoopids” you fix them by having the right answers and good leadership. The answer to whether things will get better is by looking to the people who still have an open mind. Most of those are in their 20s and early 30s.

    2) The hyperbole on the gun issue is the exact same thing as the Healthcare debate. Why don’t you come out here to Australia or the UK where they have both strict gun control and a non-dysfunctional health care system and spend all your energy trying to convince them they are not free and are on the fastlane to fascism. After that, maybe you can tone back your rhetoric just a bit.

    3) I’m glad Obama was reelected. It’ll be nice to see what he can do now that he isn’t having to focus as much on the economy. I wish he had an opposition party to work with that wasn’t completely dysfunctional.

  72. Count me as glad about today’s events – including, of course, the success of the security arrangements that allowed the president and his wife to get out of their Cadillac-shaped tank with foot-thick doors and walk along Pennsylvania Avenue.

    I don’t believe that the above-mentioned quote about politics is a genuine Groucho quote, either spoken or written. He wouldn’t structure a sentence like that; besides, a setup like that requires too much forethought, whereas Groucho’s wit was more spontaneous.

  73. Yay!! This has been a wonderful day. Still watching MSNBC yapping about the inauguration. Hopefully, President Obama will sign legislation on gun control (unlikely, but one can hope), immigration (likely), and the environment (unfortunately, probably unlikely also). While President Obama mentioned gay rights in his speech, I wonder what he can do to advance marriage equality. His administration already refuses to enforce DOMA.

    I can’t believe that there were moments last year when I actually thought Romney could win. What was I thinking?

  74. I am not a fan of gun control but for the most part his executive orders struck me as within the realm of the executive branch. some were silly; “Name a BATFE director” isn’t an order, it’s a Post-It note for the administration.

    A couple struck me as off, how does the executive branch improve incentives for anything without an appropriation? What incentives; White House tours?

    Some of the others had to do with writing regulations relating to Obamacare. This is a case of the executive branch bypassing congress, but it’s already part of the fabric of the country and isn’t unique to this issue or this president and the law already specifies that regs will be decided by regulators.

  75. Obama is a mensch, and as a mensch he no doubt came into office in January 2009 honestly thinking he could find common ground with the GOP to craft centrist policies. If I fault him, it’s for taking too long to realize the nature of the opposition, which is motivated primarily by Angry White Guy Entitlement writ very large.

    I like the fact that his second Inaugural speech was an unequivocal, unapologetic pitch for progressive policies. I hope it was also at least a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that the GOP is malignant; and I hope he will focus his legislative efforts on peeling off the few remaining sane Republicans willing to vote with Democrats.

  76. New boss, same as the old boss…

    And some people are stupid enough to believe there’ll be different results.

  77. Rick Weideman:

    Agreed, not classy, but meh. It’s not like anyone missed them … probably not even the Republicans who did show up.

  78. Congress is still horribly dysfunctional, and the accumulated mess of the last thirty years or so is more than any presidential administration can fix by itself. I’m not happy with all of Obama’s planned policy initiatives, but then again we’ve never had a president I agreed with all the time.

    The heck with the negativity: I liked the speech, and I’m happy with the outcome of (this particular) election. I’m looking forward to Obama’s second term.

  79. @Krusatta, there are people arguing that the 2nd amendment was written with the intent of protecting their right to stage an armed rebellion, and that is why they need high capacity magazines: to fight the US military. That is the craziest thing I’ve seen being said in all seriousness about the 2nd amendment lately. It is a rather serious misreading of the historical context in which the 2nd amendment was written, to say nothing of being nonsensical when you think about the weapons the US military has at its disposal.

  80. I don’t actually want, need, or expect the president to make marriage equality happen. That’s not within his power and frankly I don’t really want it to be. But! He’s speaking publicly in favor of actual equality for me and mine. He put Stonewall in a list with Seneca Falls and Selma, which meant I actually got to tell someone, today, what that meant. Someday maybe the straight people will know our history, at least a little.

    I know there are lots of other issues going on, and in general I’m one of the he’s-not-progressive crowd. I disagree with him on lots of things. But I’m pragmatic enough that I’m thrilled to have a president I can disagree with but who is not actually running my country into the ground. The last guy would gladly have wiped every member of my community off the face of the earth if he’d been able to do so without repercussions, just so we’d stop being politically difficult, not, I think, out of any real animosity.

    I know that for most people, this president’s stance on LGB rights (and his VP’s take on trans issues, OMG Biden sometimes you rock) are laudable but unimportant. Those people aren’t living my life. Every time something like this happens I think – holy shit, I am living in the future. We have a president on our side! An actual president! Remember when gay men were dying in droves and the then-president refused to acknowledge that there was a problem? For years? Those of us alive then remember… I was a kid, and I remember. And now we’ve got a president who wants to treat us like people. Whoa.

  81. I have yet to comprehend why people get excited about federal stances with regard to gay marriage–it’s a issue of the states.

    Other than that, only two comments:

    1) I don’t get why people are ever excited about a president taking office for a second term. Hasn’t he already sworn himself up and down once?

    2) Referencing Won’t Get Fooled Again and then saying, “all right by me,” is so totally not in the spirit of the tune. But still points for referencing it.

  82. @ evantessuraea

    While I agree that there is a lot more on the horizon than any one issue, LGBT rights is part and parcel of the larger cause of human rights, which are very much at the center of our times and, IMHO, trump even the current economic crisis (though not the larger generational global socioeconomic-environmental crisis, and with the caveat that a free and prosperous society rests on the foundation of a viable economy).

    I also hope (though my hope is tempered with realism) that this election serves as a wake-up call to the GOP to return to their true roots as champions of equal protection under the law and not the false roots of morality police, border zealots and conflating blind nationalism with patriotism. In short, I hope they choose Lincoln and Eisenhower as their guiding stars and forsake their false prophets Regan and Limbaugh. What can I say? I live in hope.

  83. Meh, but much much better than the alternative. Hopefully he will reduce the use of preemptive surrender to the GOP this time round. Nothing will get done due to the total dysfunction of the opposition.

    Hillary missed her window, she is now too old – born in 1947, so will be 70 at inauguration, times have changed and the job ages the incumbent. Joe Biden is 70 already – he looks great, but will be 74 at inauguration, so he is right out

  84. Yeah, I don’t see how we can ever progress as a nation as long as one party is completely insane. Sadly the GOP went off the rails years ago and has calcified around the worst actors and the worst notions.

    Trying to compromise with todays GOP is like trying to decide were to go for dinner where you think Italian sounds good and your partner insists on tire rims and anthrax. There is no middle ground between reasonable and totally unmoored from reality insanity

  85. Y.T.:

    It’s currently a matter for the states to decide whether to legally recognize same-sex marriages, but legal marriage status is relevant to many federal-level policies, including taxes, military benefits, Social Security benefits, immigration policy, etc, etc. The point of the ironically-named “Defense of Marriage Act” was to prevent same-sex marriages from being treated equally under the law at the federal level, even when they’re legally recognized at the state level.

  86. Cloud: “[...] people arguing that the 2nd amendment was written with the intent of protecting their right to stage an armed rebellion, [...] a rather serious misreading of the historical context in which the 2nd amendment was written [...]

    I think it is you who needs to re-read historical context, as well as the other writings of the day.

    The reality of “high capacity magazines” is that they aren’t high capacity, they are standard. Whether a monster is using low capacity magazines or regular ones is highly irrelevant when you are attacking innocent people. They are, however, highly relevant when you are defending yourself, so legislation restricting size does nothing to hinder atrocity, but does hinder self-defense. 3D printing is about to make the whole point moot allowing any heavily medicated and poorly parented teenager the ability to print one off in an hour anyway. People are going to have to start dealing with the social issues causing this rather than the tool chosen to do it with; which is what we should be doing right now anyway. Gun free zones are a complete farce; why can’t a teacher or parent who carries a gun everywhere else, hurting no one, be allowed to protect themselves and the people they care about on a 10 acre spot on the earth. Millions of American’s with guns didn’t murder someone yesterday, and taking away their property isn’t going to make things any better. Criminals get away because of the 4th amendment, ignorant ideas are spread because of the 1st, and people are lost to us because of the 2nd; but the reason we keep them is the cost out ways the benefit. Until the number of civilian on civilian death catches up to the earth’s propensity for democide, then the 2nd is a vital natural right.

    Want some meaningful legislation? Tax deduction for gun safes; those things are expensive. Mine was over $1700. Want to save lives? Make drunk driving a felony. There are plenty of ways to actually save lives.

  87. c0yote: yes, more people die from alcohol related incidents than guns. But we don’t hear anyone wanting to tighten up alcohol laws. Of course we tried to legislate that one away and had to reverse it. I am not proposing that, just pointing out the fact that there are some “freedoms” people do not want to talk about controlling even if it saves lives.

  88. Really? Who are you defending yourself from that firing more than six shots before reloading is going to make a difference, exactly? The zombie apocalypse might be fun to speculate about, but it’s probably not going to happen. In its absence…exactly what advantage of letting everyone own semi-automatic weapons outweighs the cost? Cite sources, please.

    And “OMG MY GUN IS MY PROPERTEH” is…unconvincing, at best. Your car is also your property; if you use it irresponsibly, we can and do take away your right to use it.

  89. No one else objects to Betsy Darwin openly advocating thatpeople with below 130 IQ have no right to life? I saw one other only. Average IQ is 100, which means Betsy believes more than 50% of people, at least, have no right to life, and can thus be exterminated with no negative moral implications, despite that the fact that is it clear that many individuals in that 50% are good, productive, necessary citizens.

    Come the idiopocalypse, I recommend Betsy, with presumed 130+ IQ, for trash collection and disposal duty, or perhaps mobile toilet cleaner.

    Hilarious or hypocritical I don’t know, but if someone uses nasty words, they are threatened with the mallet, but if someone expresses just about the most disgusting possible thought without the swearing, there is only minor objection.

    Commenters here, and Mr. Scalzi himself, have mentioned the pride they take in the quality of the comments section of this website. Show that pride and quality and put down all trolls, not just those with opposing politics.

  90. Oh, honeys. The President said I should be able to get married. He also thinks a gun magazine should have no more than 10 kittens in it. I have said all along that if limiting weapons is a problem, lets limit access to bullets. Nothing in the 2nd amendment about ammo. If the founding fathers could roll their own (or get their slaves to do it for them) then no reason Real Americans shouldnt also have the God given right to make their own bullets.

  91. sdqpds: I suspect most of us read that as hyperbole not worth responding to. Still… how about NO. I wouldn’t want an IQ 70 minimum plague, let alone an IQ 130 plague.

  92. I think it is you who needs to re-read historical context, as well as the other writings of the day.

    No, actually, they were right. There were a number of armed rebellions during the Constitutional period, and the founding fathers gleefully squished them all. The Whiskey Rebellion is only one of them. In fact, Shays’ Rebellion, in the mid-1780s, influenced the desire of the founders to have strong state militias to put such uprisings down.

    The reality of “high capacity magazines” is that they aren’t high capacity, they are standard.

    A hundred round magazine for an M4 carbine is _not_ standard.

    Whether a monster is using low capacity magazines or regular ones is highly irrelevant when you are attacking innocent people.

    It’s not the only thing that’s relevant, but anything that slows the rate of fire and allows people to escape is important. I’d prefer to see a return to bolt-action rifles and single-shot revolvers, but that’s probably a pipe dream.

    As to affecting self-defense, on an individual level, in what universe do you think that someone is going to carry around a long gun with a hundred round rifle? No, they’re going to carry a small handgun of some sort. If you mean self-defense against the eveeul! government! minions! then the handicap caused by smaller magazines is infinitely less than that caused by the ban (for 99% of people) on fully-automatic weapons, anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles, etc. (ObSideNote: Hey, Greg, have you found me that working tank for sale yet?). I assume you’re not advocating for the general legalization of those things?

    So, no, your arguments do not really compute.

  93. I’m hoping that the inauguration speech indicates Obama is going to come out swinging; if you’re going to treat me like a radical liberal, be very careful what you ask for.
    LGBT rights are an issue that has been a long time in being addressed. When can we start treating human beings like human beings?
    I have no particular objections to responsible gun ownership. What I would like to see is better mechanisms for keeping guns out of the hands of whackadoodles who go looking for their 15 minutes of fame with a semiautomatic at a mall. That, and seeing said whackadoodles get proper treatment for whatever their mental ailment is. Occasionally the treatment is permanent incarceration. Since the 80s, the US has been lax about getting help to those with mental issues.

  94. Well he started his second term with one gigantic lie. You know, when he said, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Because what he is trying to do to the Second Amendment is the exact opposite of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution.

    The sooner he becomes a former president, the better.

  95. ” Because what he is trying to do to the Second Amendment is the exact opposite of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution.”

    What amazes me with people who say things like this is that no matter how MANY times people point out that this isn’t remotely true, they still say them.

    Without Sandy Hook I suspect he’d have ignored gun control as comprehensively as he did in the first term. There is something about a bunch of elementary school children being killed by legally owned guns that annoys people.

    I’m still struggling with the self defense aspects of many of these weapons myself. Pump action shotgun? Yeap, I can see that working just fine in my home. Fighting off the government or the zombie hordes, less so, but given that both those eventualities have roughly the same level of probability I’m pretty good with that.

    If, in the words of a friend of mine, you need big magazines because continuous fire without reloading on a BIG gun is ‘crazy fun’ then keep your ‘crazy fun’ at the range where I presume they have space to go crazy fun.

  96. Because what he is trying to do to the Second Amendment is the exact opposite of preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution

    Because the Constitution never, ever, ever gets changed.

  97. Because the Constitution never, ever, ever gets changed.

    You mean it can be AMENDED? Gosh, but wouldn’t that mean there were amendments to it? Perhaps they should number them and call them amendments so people would know?

  98. @Cloud: Well, I could offer the hyperbole-ridden counter-argument that since the US military has things like M1A1 Abrams tanks, F-16s and JDAMs, UAVs and Hellfires that I should also be able to possess one as a private citizen. But, that wasn’t my point. I was simply pointing to the logical fallacy involved in the argument. Since we went there, let us review some history: the NVA regular troops and the Viet Cong were in no way as well armed as the French or US troops they fought (but they won); the Afghanis were woefully ill-equipped to fight a Soviet mechanized infantry division (but they won); the insurgent forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are dramatically inferior in both numbers and equipment to their enemy and, honestly, so long as they don’t lose…they win. You don’t need to be as well armed as your opponent to win–especially in a rebellion–but you DO need to be armed. Asymmetric warfare has a name because it works.

    I’m getting off the soap box on gun rights now. Much like the debate about abortion, it is an issue where both sides are deeply entrenched and nigh immovable.

    Instead, does anyone want to talk about the economic prospects offered by the President’s second term? Debating gun control is hardly relevant if no one can buy them.

    One thing I would like to see, economically speaking, is the passage of a farm bill. The lack of new and/or updated agricultural law is a serious issue for a prime contributor to our nation’s prosperity. For example, without an exemption, farmers are seriously impacted by new or increased estate taxes.

    I don’t farm, but I do eat…I’d like to continue to do so at a reasonable price. Any thoughts?

  99. isabelcooper: A young mother defended herself this month with a six shot revolver. She put 5 into his face and neck, and he drove away. He could just as easily have stuck around and murdered them. Many many many instances of police shooting involving drug fiends who take dozens of shots to vital areas and still capable of killing officers and innocents. You should look at case study and tactics before you start saying that no one needs more than 6 or 7 or 10. You won’t find a police officer, soldier, or firearms instructor that will tell you than 10 is “enough” for a fight. If you are fighting for your life, only an idiot would take fewer bullets.

    David: 100 rounds is not standard, but 30 is. Most modern handguns carry 15-19. Point of fact; you should thank your stars if a criminal is using 100 round magazines. They jam like nobodies business. It’s like back in the 90’s when they started the war on “saturday night specials”. Hi-points saved more gangbangers’ lives than any piece of legislation. I’ve heard dozens of bangers say, “I’d be dead if his gun didn’t jam.” Once the cheap malfunctioning ones were gone they had to graduate to good guns.

    You also can’t say that because the rebellion was squashed that they didn’t have a right to do it. As far as the early rebellion goes, I would reference John Boyd by saying they had no moral ground to stand on. Founders during the initial revolution had significant moral fault with the British rule. (Declaration of Independence) Despite all that. Government murder of it’s own citizens was the leading cause of unnatural death last century. That does not include war or even collateral death in war. This is a solid and academically peer reviewed fact. You might say, “It didn’t happen here.” Well guess what, we had guns, but what might have happened back when we were in the middle of the red scare? Who didn’t have guns and what happened to them? The Japanese-Americans were put it camps, Native Americans (some of my ancestors) were marched literally to death, and African American’s were among the first to have laws against gun ownership placed on them to keep them down. The NDAA has authorized the military to detain – without due process – anyone suspected of involvement with the September 11th attacks. No lawyer, no trial, just indefinite detainment. What is it that gives you faith that none of these could ever go bad or happen again? Truthfully when, not if, it happens again; do you want to be the group without a gun?

  100. isabelcooper: Here is one article on it.

    http://www.examiner.com/article/atlanta-mother-uses-gun-to-defend-children-home-shoots-intruder-5-times

    While we are at it, who needs an AR-15 with more than 10 shots? Maybe you do if you have four armed people attacking your house.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuhKCiY-lu0&feature=player_embedded

    or maybe if you are 15 years old and home alone with your sister when two burglars break in.
    http://www.khou.com/news/crime/Burglary-suspect-shot-by-15-year-old-son-of-deputy-97430719.html

    It doesn’t have to be the zombie apocalypse for there to be more than one bad guy.

  101. @isabelcooper: Revise, the first report I read was face and neck in crawlspace, shows torso hits in cited article. My mistake.

  102. Shotgun then. Nice scatter effect. Extreme easy to aim. Well known noise when ‘primed’. Unlikely to put a projectile through a wall and through somebody you didn’t want to hit.

    Seriously. That second one? You’re telling me the ‘victim’ was just somebody minding their own business and 4 guys armed like that decided to head into the house? Sure. I have a bridge you might be interested in too.

    BTW C0yote, for each of those stories, I can match you for somebody killing a family member or somebody innocent with their gun because they thought they were a burglar.

  103. What Daveon says, basically.
    And add to that the number of innocent people killed in domestic shootings, massacres like the one at Sandy Hook, crossfires in drug wars, and accidents. Just going by the numbers, I don’t see how the one-in-a-million chance that four people randomly decide to attack you at once is worth all those other actual lives.
    See also: OMG GUVMINT TYRANNY. While the black helicopter hand-flappers get their undergarments of choice twisted about the remote possibility that the government might one day, after more than two hundred years, decide to go all repressive, *and* that a bunch of guys armed with the sporting goods section of Wal-Mart might make any sort of difference if they did, actual people are actually getting killed.
    Also, article three? Doesn’t show the kid doing anything with said assault rifle that he couldn’t have done with a handgun or shotgun.

  104. Oh, yeah, and also?

    That thing where the bad guy got away and was fine after five shots and OMG SCARY? Total BS. Dude did escape, *after* begging for his life, got caught by police and is now in the hospital with massive internal injuries. Dude probably deserves it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hardly “he could have stuck around and murdered them”. We’re not talking Jason Vorhees here.

  105. I have yet to comprehend why people get excited about federal stances with regard to gay marriage–it’s a issue of the states.

    That’s what they used to say about miscagenation, too. Look what happened when the US Supreme Court took a good, hard look at the idea: Loving v Virginia

    Under both the “equal protection” clause and under the “full faith and credit” clause and using Loving as a precedent, same-sex marriage is effectively the law of the land and I fully expect the US Supreme Court to rule that way when they hear united States v Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry.

  106. Daveon: As a person who has shot a shotgun through walls, it will pierce interior walls like paper. That priming noise is enough to tell the other guy to start shooting. That spread is a liability to others in your house especially if someone is being abducted or already physically assaulted. First of all, I will cite you into the ground under the conditions you setup. Secondly, for every family member being killed you can cite, I can cite you 100 unarmed people killed by there own government. The motive for the 4 man attack is unknown, but your statement is speculation.
    If ten rounds is enough then when you are fighting two people you are now at five rounds. Three people you are at 3.3 rounds. When does it get ridiculous enough? If ten was enough police would carry ten. “Well police fight criminals.” You mean the criminals commit crime against me? Fighting 4 men, he had fewer than 8 rounds per person. The logical answer is that if you have the right to defend yourself, you have the right to do it effectively, and effective self-defense depends on force multiplication in most instanced. Especially since you usually do not have the initiative. The reasonable answer to how many bullets should a person have loaded in a magazine is as many as can reasonably fit without making the weapon unwieldy or prone to malfunction. In those circumstances 15-19 is sweet spot for a pistol, and 20-30 for a rifle.

    I use an AR-15 in my house for home defense. My wife and child are behind the choke point, I live in a somewhat rural area, and I use M193 ball which is know for shredding when hitting hard objects (exterior walls.) I use the AR-15 because it has a better sighting system than my pistol, I am far more accurate with it, I have dogs and sufficient distance from entry points to alert me in time to deploy it, and I will not have to worry about fumbling in the dark for another magazine if things are really really bad. I train with it monthly at a expensive private range, with “obscene” amounts of ammunition by some standards. (Which I purchased through the mail no-less! OMG) It’s a perfectly reasonable strategic decision, and I am a highly responsible engineer, husband, and father. So other than, “ZOMG U R CRZY GUNNUT!” Why should I not be allowed to own it? I don’t need it is not any more of a valid argument than saying Rosa Parks didn’t need to sit at the front of that bus. Besides that, I’ve listed why it’s the most efficient tool for the job above. So if nothing else, I need it because it is the best tool for the job.

  107. I’m hopeful that this term our President will be more willing to annoy the Rightwingers and we will have major reforms in taxes, education, and social services. Since he never has to run for office again, he can use his political capital to push for some serious changes. (fingers crossed) Oh, and I am THRILLED I will NEVER have to say “President Romney” and he won’t represent our country. It was childish of him to skip the inauguration and shows his character very well.

  108. I’m willing to cut Dubya and Romney some slack. Bush because, well, why? He’s returned to private life and seems content to stay there. And Romney? No one wants to be standing on the podium smiling while someone else has the gold.

    I also suggest that Mr. Obama did not note their absence. At least, I hope not. SOMEONE has to be the bigger man.

    Again, any economic hopes, dreams or comments?

  109. I’m hoping for more infrastructure projects and job training centers. I’m also hoping that Obamacare leads to universal health care once everyone sees that deadly UN Ninjas aren’t coming to kill their grandparents with gay marriage, or whatever the hysteria in question was. On a personal level, I’d also love student loan forgiveness: I *can* keep up with mine, but it’d be a nice little bonus to have ‘em cleared.

  110. Isabelcooper: I am completely in agreement about infrastructure. Especially mass transit. Allow me to caveat that by saying I am not really an environmentalist, but alleviating the necessity for air travel will both reduce travel costs AND be greener. I’m all about things having the dual purpose of economic and business sense–I have an issue with environmentalism that overrides human concerns.

    As far as student loans…well, I’d certainly make off well if they were forgiven, but I fear what that may do to the companies that issue and monitor student loans. Further, I think it sends the wrong message to an already very ‘entitled’ youth.

    Also, “deadly UN ninjas” is now my quote of the day.

  111. Krusatta: “Further, I think it sends the wrong message to an already very ‘entitled’ youth. ”

    This. ^ Also I want trains.

  112. What is that “wrong” message? That you don’t deserve a college education unless you’re wealthy or expect to be wealthy enough to pay back crushing mounds of debt? That investing in an educated citizenry is not nearly as cool as investing in trains, so we’ll fill in our educational gap by importing students from abroad?

    (also, protip: EVERY generation whines about how spoiled the ones after are.)

  113. mythago: No, but it might send the message that majoring in underwater basket weaving with a 30 year drought anticipated is a fine and dandy idea.

  114. Brother, I don’t have the time to go through everything you’re getting wrong in this thread, but a few historical notes:

    You also can’t say that because the rebellion was squashed that they didn’t have a right to do it.

    Good thing I didn’t say that; what I did say was the the Founding Fathers, who supposedly put the second amendment into the Bill of Rights to protect the right of armed rebellion were perfectly happy to squish armed rebellions both before and after the Constitution was written. You know why? Because they *hadn’t* put the 2nd amendment in to give the right to armed rebellion, they put it in to ensure that the defensive system (against both outside forces and internal rebellion) they were setting up (state militias) would work.

    Who didn’t have guns and what happened to them? The Japanese-Americans were put it camps, Native Americans (some of my ancestors) were marched literally to death, and African American’s were among the first to have laws against gun ownership placed on them to keep them down

    You do know that none of that is actually true, right? Plenty of the Japanese-Americans in WWII had guns and they still ended up in the camps, lots of the Native Americans had guns and ended up on the reservations or dead, and plenty of African-Americans have had guns and ended up lynched.

    Good lord, what *are* they teaching in schools these days?

  115. @mythago “Deserve a college education”? Odd. My professors were quite sure that a college education was earned. I would agree that everyone deserves the chance to attend college. Student loans afford people the ability to exercise their right to attempt a college education. A student loan is still a loan. The company issuing credit deserves to be paid back as the borrower agreed. Perhaps your anger is better directed at the modern university system.

    There is an excellent article by Victor Davis Hanson addressing that here: http://victorhanson.com/articles/hanson122812.html

    In the section concerning student loans, he uses the analogy of the auto industry. To summarize, if the paradigm of student loans was applied to the auto industry, then the government would guarantee everyone’s first car loan while the auto makers proceeded to hike the price of a vehicle at twice the rate of inflation while the loan guarantees would rise to match prices. This is ass backwards.

    The current system is broken, but it is not the loan originators’ policies that broke it.

  116. Oh, you can major in underwater basket weaving now?

    Careful how you respond here. The usual liberal arts major associated with it resulting in unemployment is philosophy. And using that one would be ironic.

  117. cOyote

    I am sorry that your life has led you to believe that you need enough firepower to hold off several SWAT teams.

    Of course I’m also sorry that some peoples’ lives have led them to believe that aliens are peppering our planet with hypnotic suggestion to soften us up for their invasion.

    Most people outside the US culture regard those sets of beliefs as, for all practical purposes, identical, notwithstanding the fact that the US is still the most powerful country on the planet, and thus has huge cultural influence.

    Nobody wants to copy US gun laws, and nobody wants to copy the US healthcare system; in some ways people outside the US are grateful for the obvious lunacy because we can point at it as an example of obvious lunacy.

    I would prefer to be grateful for the US taking steps to stop making it so easy to murder people, just as I would prefer to be grateful for the US taking steps to help ill people get the care they desperately need…

  118. Krussata – the exemption for estate tax is $5m, transfers between spouses is exempt. That’s a pretty big farm, from where I am looking

  119. @Chris Land values have trended upward dramatically, as has equipment. It’s transfers from parents to children that affects farmers. Ten years ago, you were looking at 1000 acres before you even considered the effect of estate taxes. Now it is as low as 300. That is simply for a crop only farm, if you add grazing land for livestock…

    Your point is well-taken, however, private farming conducted by the owner is dollar to bushel more productive than state-run farms or large corporate growers. The Soviets learned this the hard way. Please don’t read anything into my choice of Soviet agriculture, it’s simply the largest and most accessible example I could think of.

  120. @c0yote: How would it send that message, and why is it an acceptable price to you to bar deserving students from a college education in order to scold those who do attend into majoring in something you believe is appropriate? Either the students are bright enough to take career prospects into account up front, or they’re not. If they are, then loading them down with debt teaches them nothing. If they’re not, then you’re not deterring them from anything, because they only find out they took a frivolous major too late to do anything about it. TL;DR, a desire to shake one’s cane at those spoiled brats and their ya-ya college degrees is kind of a shitty rationale for educatino policy.

    @Doc Rocketscience: Interestingly, the classics are an area that are pretty non-crunchy and slim on the job prospects, but one doesn’t find conservatives railing against the idiocy of a Latin major or how a focus on ancient Greek warfare is a waste of time, certainly not in the same way as, say, English literature or women’s studies.

    @Krusatta, other than referring to the subject of a college education, your post pretty much had nothing to do with my comment. When I actually blame banks for the current state of affairs, feel free to regurgitate your concerns; I was really discussing the increased costs of access and the shift in availability from grants and work-study to loans.

  121. David: As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most internet quotes are made up on the spot, then attributed to anyone who sounds good.”

    Betsy: That’s assuming a bio-weapon won’t be created that eliminates every human with an IQ under 130.

    You think the species wouldn’t go into a rapid decline after that? I think the population would drop in every generation.

    Ibid: Genocide is [definition]. I don’t see anything in there about idiots.

    So you’re not pro-genocide, just pro-eugenic mass murder. Imagine the relief.

    Y.T.: I have yet to comprehend why people get excited about federal stances with regard to gay marriage–it’s a issue of the states.

    Yes. Like segregation. That’s where we’re going (I hope). Also, what Bearpaw said. Even more, what JohnD said. Though JohnD is more optimistic about the Roberts Court’s integrity than I am.

    Doc: Oh, you can major in underwater basket weaving now?

    I’m not sure you can major in it. It’s called Submarine Applications of Marshland Ecology.

  122. @Mythago: Feel free to be so clear in the future, as your original post could have benefited from using phrases like “increased costs of access”.

    Stripped of your snark, I actually agree with you. The shift to loans is an unfortunate effect of the rising costs of education. However, you are forgetting or ignoring that scholarships and grants often require much more effort than filling out the FAFSA and signing a promissory note, and are much less accessible.

    Maybe I misunderstand. Are you saying that because college costs more we should forgive loans? The post I originally responded to concerned the forgiveness of loans. Simply because something is more expensive and exclusive doesn’t translate to not having a to pay back a loan that was made to you in good faith. Having mommy or daddy–or the President–smile and make it all better without any accountability on your part is a terrible message to send.

    Or did you simply find a convenient opening to launch an entirely new line of thought?

  123. @Xopher “It’s called Submarine Applications of Marshland Ecology.” has replaced “deadly UN ninjas” as the quote of the day.

  124. Oh, you can major in underwater basket weaving now?

    Careful how you respond here. The usual liberal arts major associated with it resulting in unemployment is philosophy. And using that one would be ironic.

    Those of us with technical educations are sometimes inclined to make fun of liberal education. In many respects this is unfair, because done properly, liberal educations are rigorous and hard are are designed to sharpen a mind to contend with situations outside of the domain of the area of study. It seems likely that the University of Chicago made our host take a rhetoric class that I now wish that I had (or do I recall that he mentioned one once).

    As I understand it, the United States is still considered the go-to place for good liberal educations. On the other hand, education is one business where the customers are increasingly uninterested in getting their money’s worth, and as Hanson pointed out, liberal education isn’t what it used to be. There is a growing interest in teaching students what their opinions ought to be rather than teaching them how to develop, express, and defend opinions of their own.

    I’m also inclined to think that not everyone benefits from a liberal education. I suspect that most people benefit more from coursework in a domain that has a more direct bearing on career plans. For that matter, I think we are putting too much emphasis on college as the only viable post-secondary education. How does it benefit a below average student to go into massive debt for a college degree which in theory prepares him or her to enter a job market to compete with much better students? A fair number of students in that position accumulate the debt and don’t graduate at all. For these students, training in more concrete skills would have been a much better bet financially.

    Finally, it seems to me that it is largely loan guarantees and our obsession with credentials that allow colleges to increase their prices nearly without bound. A parent will go to ridiculous lengths to see to it that his or her child obtains a degree, and the child will agree to enormous debt to obtain that degree.

    I suspect that we are getting to the point where the credential doesn’t justify the expense. What if we move toward a system where students study open course-ware and pay grad students to grade their papers, conduct class discussions, and conduct recitation sections online? How much would it cost compared to college tuition? How much different is this from distance learning programs offered by established universities? A critical missing component is the credential, but if this becomes the only affordable alternative, we will find a way to accredit such enterprises.

  125. Mapleson, in US politics, “lame duck” is a more general term than that, including multiple different reasons that a politician or group of politicians won’t be around after the next inauguration. It’s not only the Congress as a group between the election and inauguration, but also Presidents or other politicians who can’t be re-elected because of term limits, and politicians who lost a primary election but are still in office.

    (Partisanship disclaimer: I’m a Libertarian, so I get to be a rabid extremist on more issues than all the rest of you, so there!)

    I really liked Candidate Obama in 2008. Unfortunately, he was replaced with President Obama, who not only didn’t have the guts to fight the Republicans on major issues such as closing Gitmo or court-martialling torturers, but decided that he liked warrantless wiretapping and being able to use drones to assassinate people without the messiness of due process. Sure, he was better than McCain or (yikes!) Romney, but I’d have much preferred having a liberal in office.

    And while I’m a strong believer in the 2nd Amendment as both an individual and group right, I think all of you gun nuts are letting the Republicans use you, mainly as a distraction from the serious financial problems that they’re not willing to address. Obama can’t do much to change gun laws without Congress’s help, which he won’t get. Maybe Homeland Security will get some more intrusive databases, but you shouldn’t have let Bush create them in the first place. And it’s not like the Republicans are going to let you buy anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down the Black Helicopters or real tanks or anti-tank weapons, because they don’t want you to have the power to actually rebel against the government (even though the rebelling Colonial militia had cannons to use against the Brits.) The Republican Party machine is strongly corporatist, and believes strongly in lower taxes for rich people and less regulation and more pork for big corporations, and while they don’t mind doing occasional favors for right-wing social agendas, don’t think that you own policy-making. (And the deficit hawks were stuck together with the right-wingers to keep them useful but marginalized as well.)

    And the economy is going to be a mess for a while – Obama’s no Bill Clinton (and Clinton was not only good, but lucky enough to have the Internet Boom happen on his watch, though his anti-trust threats against Microsoft in 2000 helped burst that bubble, as did Alan Greenspan raising interest rates heavily that year and the internet business world gradually figuring out how much web advertising was actually worth.)

  126. @Mike I find zero points of yours to argue with. I agree particularly concerning alternative post secondary education. I enlisted in the military (no, this is not for everyone and I don’t necessarily advocate it). Before my military service, I doubt I would have made it through my later course of study.

    Several of my former team mates left the service and found factory jobs. These pay extremely well (far better than I was paid after finishing my BA program).

    That being said, we are a post-industrial, service-based economy and a focus on credentialing is a part of its nature.

  127. @ mythago

    When I actually blame banks for the current state of affairs, feel free to regurgitate your concerns; I was really discussing the increased costs of access and the shift in availability from grants and work-study to loans.

    Banks are only part of the equation. The post-secondary education industry has systematically inflated the cost of a college degree. Note that I didn’t say education, because not all degrees involve much education. Nor is it much to do with the major per se. Grading the work of liberal arts major is just more subjective. That’s fine if you have professors and departments that care if their students earn the grade, but many are simply too tired, cynical and apathetic to stand up to students that demand A’s and B’s for C or D work. It’s not that English as a major is inherently worthless (that would depend on the college), it’s that it’s easier to fudge the evaluations. Plenty of English majors have gone on to lucrative and/or successful careers. But there are also many classes that can be learned out of a book from a library and would better benefit from replacing dry redundant lectures with guided discussion sessions following reading assignments. How many students skip lectures because they know it’s going to be a half-assed reiteration of the text with ten-year-old slides?

    Add to that diluting their brands with grade inflation, selling one size that doesn’t fit all and proportionally fits few graduates well, treating students as though they’re just passing through on the way to independence so the universities can bilk their parents. Simply put, it’s seen as an extended adolescence rather than a first stage in adulthood. I worked my posterior off in high school (academically and on extracurriculars) to qualify for an academic scholarship so I could afford to take that step from a working-class family, and I still had to work my way through school. Meanwhile, there were in fact many spoiled children in my class at USC. That’s not shaking my cane or being bitter – I’m not bitter about it, but I do feel sorry for them – it’s a simple fact. A generation of middle-class parents were sold on the idea that the only way to get their chickadees to fly was to finance a four-year trip to the alter of mediocrity, and they and their children went into debt to make it happen only to find out that it wasn’t the sinecure they were told.

    Then there’s the culture of academia which rivals corporate culture in professionals performing as weakly as they can get away with, playing politics instead of attending to their students, and general gutless bureaucratic ass-covering, all of which serves to impede students (and their parents) from getting the bank’s money’s worth, not to mention fostering an atmosphere of exploitation and distrust.

    Finally there’s the increasingly professional-sports attitude of college athletics, which pours fuel on the fire of academic decline by reducing non-Ivy League (or equivalently ranked) colleges to glorified athletic clubs.

  128. without the messiness of due process. Sure, he was better than McCain or (yikes!) Romney, but I’d have much preferred having a liberal in office

    If not liking due process makes a President not a liberal, then we just lost every Democratic President of the 20th century, all of whom showed a quite casual disregard of it in major ways.

  129. The thing I don’t understand about the whole gun thing, as this is irrespective of which side of the debate you are on
    1: It’s in the constitution
    2: People have some disagreements about the wording, but the supreme court ruled on that right? so nothing to see there, move on
    3: If you don’t like it, there is a mechanism to change the Constitution

    So why is there no amendment in play?

    I have not heard a single gun control advocate suggest you know, actually following the process? Is it like too much trouble or something?

    Will we accomplish more by freaking out on Facebook or in the blogosphere?

  130. @Krusatta, as you started off being snarky I’m not quite sure what it is you’re complaining about; but that aside, yes, you appear to have wholly misunderstood me. When you raise the financial bar for a college education, you are not doing much to Parsleigh McOldmoney, who can major in 19th Century French Court Couture because nobody at her daddy’s Wall Street firm really cares what you got your 4.0 average in; but you are going to keep out children from less-wealthy backgrounds who have to predict some confluence of a) their abilities b) their interests and c) the job market, both immediately after college and in the long term, and are going to be taking a severe financial hit if their prognostication is off for any reason. I don’t see any value in examining things like loan forgiveness as to how effectively it punishes those children from taking the “wrong” major, or for being from a generation we perceive as insufficiently docile. Looking at how it affects educational access and costs is an entirely different matter.

    @Gulliver, I’m beginning to think that talking about how much easier the liberal arts are is to STEM folks as “let me tell you about my character” is to gamers.

  131. @Mythago I am not interested in “punishment”, that was c0yote’s comment. I also have no desire to dictate degree paths, that also was another poster. Truly our world would be a sorry, soulless place if no one studied literature or art, and quite a few MBAs know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    What I do have a problem with is a culture that increasingly believes that “I made a promise, now it is uncomfortable; therefore, I should not have to keep it.” This thought process is not confined to those younger than I–it also led to the United States government using taxpayer dollars to bail out corporations who were screwed because of their own stupidity.

    There are difficulties with every degree, even terminal graduate degrees. Quite a few attorneys are doing document review, many MBAs are washing cars. Perhaps there are a greater number of MFAs or PhDs in Russian Lit struggling, but I don’t find that relevant.

    In the end, I think, one of us is talking about crop cycles in Greece, while the other is discussing the price of corn in Italy. I completely agree that a major issue with the current post-secondary education is access and exponentially rising costs, but I fail to see how forgiving student loans will fix that. It won’t break the cycle, in fact, it will likely perpetuate it or exacerbate the problem when loan originators cease issuing student loans all together.

    I doubt Harvard will drop its tuition simply because the half-scholarship 4.0 student from the Marcy projects can’t cover the cost of the pre-med program for which he or she was accepted. Stanford has an outstanding liberal arts program, but offers very few full academic scholarships to pursue it; but damned if the quarterback doesn’t get a full ride. Nor will tenured state university professors voluntarily take a pay cut anymore than ridiculously overpaid state school athletic coaches will.

  132. Y.T.:

    I have yet to comprehend why people get excited about federal stances with regard to gay marriage–it’s a issue of the states.

    There’s more than one reason. For one thing, the President is the leader in more ways than one. if he speaks out in favor of something, people will think about it. It becomes a part of the public conversation. Now, marriage equality is already a pretty public conversation, but having federal support can and will help. It’s also, as others have said, about federal support (DOMA needs to die a horrible screaming death soon) and precedent. But there’s one more piece: legitimacy. I’ve spent my life being told I was a lesser person, a problem, a second-class citizen. I’ve been told I should be grateful when people aren’t assaulting me and shouldn’t even ask for, much less demand, equal protection. I’ve been blamed for every natural disaster and terrorist action ever.

    When I was a child we had a president who wasn’t interested in dealing with AIDS because gay people were dying and that was fine with him. Now we have a president who thinks of us as people, actual equal people who deserve to be treated like human beings. How do you think that feels? Marriage is a small part of the story, but it matters.

    JohnD:

    Under both the “equal protection” clause and under the “full faith and credit” clause and using Loving as a precedent, same-sex marriage is effectively the law of the land and I fully expect the US Supreme Court to rule that way when they hear united States v Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry.

    I share your perspective here and have trouble understanding how anyone would ever interpret the law differently, particularly because of the overwhelming evidence from professional associations that being gay isn’t a disorder and is immutable. (The “immutable” piece isn’t necessary but it helps.) However, like mythago, I don’t share your optimism. I think I’m afraid to hope.

  133. I have also noted that STEM folks who talk about how easy the liberal arts are generally can’t write a properly spelled, capitalized, and punctuated sentence to save their lives. There are exceptions (Gulliver, Randall Munroe), but you STEM folks all know that the plural of anecdote is not data.

  134. People have some disagreements about the wording, but the supreme court ruled on that right?

    And they ruled that there is an individual right, but there can be restrictions put on it, up to and including a so-called assault gun restriction. So let’s talk about the constitutional restrictions, OK?

  135. Xopher, that’s like complaining about innumerate liberal arts majors. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are just syntax; any computer programmer should be able to do them in their sleep, and some of us spend a fair time learning to write parsers. And yet people’s minds work differently, so even though I don’t get how somebody who has to produce syntactically correct computer language code can’t do the same thing in their native language (independent of whether they have anything to say in either case), I’ve seen extensive enough anecdotes to conclude that it is actual data.

  136. @ mythago

    I’m beginning to think that talking about how much easier the liberal arts are is to STEM folks as “let me tell you about my character” is to gamers.

    On the one hand, that was a funny snark, so I’m kinda glad I failed to make myself properly understood.

    On the other hand, I want to emphasize that I do not consider liberal arts to be inherently easier. My only point on that score was that liberal arts work is harder to objectively evaluate, which leads to more grade negotiation and other issues (such as more subjective evaluations of instructors, and journal publication and department politics becoming more important than substantive research). Like Krusatta, I both believe liberal arts is an essential part of our society and that it can be and often is every bit as challenging and enlightening as the hardest science.

    @ Krusatta

    This thought process is not confined to those younger than I–it also led to the United States government using taxpayer dollars to bail out corporations who were screwed because of their own stupidity corruption.

    Fixed that for ya.

    I completely agree that a major issue with the current post-secondary education is access and exponentially rising costs, but I fail to see how forgiving student loans will fix that. It won’t break the cycle, in fact, it will likely perpetuate it or exacerbate the problem when loan originators cease issuing student loans all together.

    Yup.

    @ Xopher Halftongue

    I have also noted that STEM folks who talk about how easy the liberal arts are generally can’t write a properly spelled, capitalized, and punctuated sentence to save their lives.

    As someone who has, in my time as a TA, graded more than a few essays that read as if written by wunderkind middle-schoolers, and read oh so many badly written and poorly edited “classic” texts and research articles, I’ve more than once fantasized about metaphorically clobbering my fellow STEM acolytes with a leather-bound copy of Strunk & White…especially the engineers. Of course, it helps that my mother (who was a classical pianist and music teacher, incidentally) personally made sure me and my sister my sister and I :P were capable of both good grammar and style, added to which was my job throughout most of college as a technical writer, my life-long voracious reading habits relatively recently turned to SF, and my private addiction to fiction and poetry writing (which I take personal pride in even though it’s only for my enjoyment). I even spent a summer at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

    There are exceptions (Gulliver, Randall Munroe), but you STEM folks all know that the plural of anecdote is not data.

    That’s very true. And I admit that I’m no sociologist and don’t have the data to back up my diagnosis of the edu-loan industry. As such, my observations should be taken as anecdotal and nothing more. But, as with journalists, not knowing where to find the stats doesn’t automatically invalidate the argument.

    However, I want to be clear that I’m not dissing liberal arts majors. Heck, I’m a software engineer turned physicist; many mathematicians think I’m softer than Downy and pity my self-exile to the tiny little corner of Platonic reality known as science. There’s not point in playing that my major is harder than your major game because I can’t win :)

  137. Krusatta: Harvard and Stanford practice need-blind admissions. In theory, you only pay what you can afford, ever. In practice, this probably goes wrong sometimes, and that is horrible, but they do try.

    Good writing is of extremely high value in all areas of academia, no less so in STEM than anywhere else. I’ve written many more pages worth of psets than essays in the past couple of years, and I promise, a mathematical proof is no easier to explain than a literary symbol. (I’m not saying it’s harder, either. They are different skills and they are both very hard. But as far as I can tell, everyone here is in agreement on that anyway.) To accuse STEM majors of a disproportionate inability to communicate is blatantly silly.

  138. c0yote: yes, more people die from alcohol related incidents than guns. But we don’t hear anyone wanting to tighten up alcohol laws.</blockquote

    Oddly enough, Richard Whitty, I don’t see the president of the National Cocktail Association arguing with a straight-face that the answer to underage drinking is an open bar in every school in America. I also find it rather ironic that the “OMFG, that Fascist Obama wants to steal all ur gunz” wing of the Republican Party seems to have no problem with the regulation of alcohol purchase and consumption, folks who are drunk and disorderly ending up with criminal records that may well show up in background checks and employers requiring their staff to undergo random drug and alcohol testing.

  139. I doubt Harvard will drop its tuition simply because the half-scholarship 4.0 student from the Marcy projects can’t cover the cost of the pre-med program for which he or she was accepted. Stanford has an outstanding liberal arts program, but offers very few full academic scholarships to pursue it; but damned if the quarterback doesn’t get a full ride. Nor will tenured state university professors voluntarily take a pay cut anymore than ridiculously overpaid state school athletic coaches will.

    See, it helps to have some idea what you’re talking about, rather than simply repeating talking points you picked up somewhere. The Ivies & Stanford (I don’t think there’s an exception but I could be wrong) are “need-blind”. If you get in, they’ll put together a package to pay for your tuition, with some loans but lots of grants and discounts. Harvard & Yale, for quite a while, charged no tuition to those from families earning under $60,000/year. The average “discount rate” for American universities is somewhere between 30-40%, meaning that yes, they are, in fact, knocking substantial amounts off their tuitions.

    As to the professors, as one myself and having seen my colleagues at a range of schools, state and otherwise, handle cuts to both their salaries (which started no where near what the football coaches were earning), pay to make copies out of their own pockets, add extra classes, and generally do everything they can to help out the school in these penurious times, all I can say is that you couldn’t be more wrong. Well, I could actually say “fuck you” but that wouldn’t be polite.

  140. EvanTessuraea
    Though JohnD is more optimistic about the Roberts Court’s integrity than I am.

    I have to be optimistic, otherwise I’d stay in bed crying all day long. Though the level of animosity and partisanship seen in the last election are nothing new (witness the Jefferson/Adams presidential campaign; “godless philanderer” was about the nicest thing that they said about each other), it is nevertheless somewhat depressing to realize that your duly-elected leaders have the morality and manners of a bunch of five year olds.

    Unholyguy
    The thing I don’t understand about the whole gun thing, as this is irrespective of which side of the debate you are on
    1: It’s in the constitution
    2: People have some disagreements about the wording, but the supreme court ruled on that right? so nothing to see there, move on

    The Supreme Court has indeed ruled on that. The problem is that they have ruled for handgun ownership (in District of Columbia v. Heller and in McDonald v. Chicago) but against shotguns and other weapons especially when regulated by states (in United States v. Miller and in Presser v. Illinois). Following those decisions, it is conceivable that they would permit a federal law prohibiting automatic weapons, shotguns, or any other weapon that isn’t a handgun.

    However, I agree with your point that it is time and well past for an amendment clarifying the Second Amendment for today’s threats. After all, a sufficiently broad interpretation of the Second would allow me to build that atomic weapon that I’ve always wanted to try out (pure curiosity; it is based on a Polish design that uses pressure waves generated by C4 to trigger fusion) or those biological weapons that are so easy to make and so hard to control.

  141. JohnD @ 9:19 AM–If you can design a weapon that triggers fusion solely from pressure waves–however generated–then I do believe you have a very nice Government job awaiting you. You may have to move to New Mexico or Nevada, however.

  142. Nick, the design is done (though not by me) and was tested by the Polish back in the 1970s. It isn’t anything new; it is just interesting.

    And I don’t need a government job. I have one in private industry that pays much, much better.

  143. and was tested by the Polish back in the 1970s

    The Poles tested a thermonuclear device in the 1970s? I think I’d like a cite for that.

  144. but you are going to keep out children from less-wealthy backgrounds who have to predict some confluence of a) their abilities b) their interests and c) the job market, both immediately after college and in the long term, and are going to be taking a severe financial hit if their prognostication is off for any reason.

    I work at a state-supported university- many of my students are not only the first in their families to get to college, but in many cases, the first to get past elementary school. 90% of my students work, as well as taking what financial aid they can get- they’re usually helping to support their family, as well as working to get an education- none of them in SAMA. (Submarine Applications…..)

    Here’s an example of how ‘prognostication’ can go wrong. Teaching is important, right? Teachers in California need at minimum, a bachelor’s degree, and a teaching credential. Most of them have the bachelor’s in their area of expertise, Math, History, English, etc. I’m currently on an interview committee looking to hire an advisor/transfer evaluator. We are flooded with apps from former K-12 teachers, each citing multiple layoffs as why they are trying to change to higher ed.

  145. If, as Wikipedia says, they were trying to keep it secret from the Soviets, I seriously doubt they could have managed a test of a working device. That’s a bit hard to hide.

  146. But that doesn’t mean that countries don’t keep trying.

    Agreed, but you specified that it had been _tested_ and that I find hard to believe.

  147. David, I find the way that octopuses make love hard to believe . Doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

  148. I have also noted that STEM folks who talk about how easy the liberal arts are generally can’t write a properly spelled, capitalized, and punctuated sentence to save their lives.

    What about STEM folk who don’t talk about how easy the liberal arts are? How well do typical liberal arts graduates do with this test? My suspicion is that average students who aren’t sure about what they want to study are more likely to choose liberal arts. This may produce a sampling bias in observations about liberal education.

    I’m fairly certain that my own use of punctuation causes writers and editors to mutter expletives. One day my AP English teacher returned a stack of essays and gave us a lecture about some point of grammar that had cropped up in several of the essays. She stated that if we were in her regular English class she would have taught us a rhyme. It seemed fairly likely to me that if we were botching the nuts & bolts rules while we were working on analysis, synthesis, and evaluation then perhaps we should spend a little more time on the nuts & bolts rather than trying to absorb it all through osmosis. We could have learned the rhyme.

  149. What, did we get a new President or something? Obama is not magical. Absolutely the best outcome, but not magial. His stance on government surveillance has *always* been troubling, for instance. Ever since he abruptly changed his mind about it before he was first elected.

    Given the gridlock in Congress, and that he is basically just another politician, I totally fail to get many of high hopes of Democrats. ‘Less insane’ is not equivalent to ‘we all get ponies now’.

    Politics is a dirty business. Always has been. Always will be.

  150. JohnD,

    My point was that a “hydrogen bomb” is a fission/fusion/fission bomb–or so I have been led to believe. The pressure waves create a fission reaction (primary stage) which combines with the secondary stage to create the fusion. If you (or the Polish) can create a fusion reaction directly, bypassing the primary fission stage, then I expect you’ll be able to name your price for your new job as DOE Weapon Designer.

    The thing of it is, though, that if you can do this, then I suspect you won’t have any choice in the matter. Black helicopters are probably on their way to your home right now ….

  151. @ Nick from the O.C.

    Strictly speaking, you can create a low level fusion reaction in a confined plasma. It’s even been done as a high school science experiment. The problem is that the resulting rate of fusion is a miniscule fraction of the break-even point, so it’s strictly a non-power-generating toy.

  152. coyote: I use an AR-15 in my house for home defense. … It’s a perfectly reasonable strategic decision, and I am a highly responsible engineer, husband, and father. So other than, “ZOMG U R CRZY GUNNUT!” Why should I not be allowed to own it?

    See any problems with the approach in the cartoon below? Any problems at all? If not, then you’re not being reasonable in any way whatsoever.

    http://www.warhw.com/2012/12/18/vending-machine/

    Here’s an idea. Don’t ban assault rifles. Classify them the same as machine guns and make it so that owners are required to have Class 3 Federal Firearms Licenses. If you can pass the paperwork and background checks and legal requirements for a machine gun, then you can have an assault rifle.

    If you can’t pass the legal requirements for a class 3 license, then, no, you shouldn’t be allowed to own a military assault rifle. Funny thing about people who own lots of guns: they are more afraid of paperwork than anything else:

    http://www.warhw.com/2012/12/18/careful-where-you-point-that/

    I don’t have a problem with people owning machine guns as long as they can get a class 3 federal firearms license and do all the paperwork. Same goes for assault rifles. There is no reason to ban assault rifles. And any ban of a class of weapon is most likely going to run directly into problems with violating the Second Ammendment.

    This is EXACTLY why the government didn’t outlaw machine guns. They regulated them. They made a class 3 federal firearms license a requirement for buying, selling, or purchasing a machine gun. Since they weren’t banned, the most obvious argument that its a violation of the Second Ammendment goes away. It becomes a nuanced question of whether it is reasonable to require a license for certain kinds of military firearms. And most americnas will tell you, they don’t want machine guns being sold for cash in vending machines. And very few americans will object to the idea of lumping assault rifles in with machine guns, because it isn’t a BAN. And because an AR-15 is just whittle away from being a fully automatic M-16.

    So, the only reason WHY you shouldn’t be allowed to own an AR15 is if you are unable to qualify for the background check, fingerprints, gun registration, and other requirements for a Class 3 Federal Firearms license. If you can meet those qualifications, and fulfill all the paperwork, by all means, enjoy your AR-15.

    I just hope Obama and Biden are using the ban as a starting point and will shift their position to reclassifying assault rifles as class 3 weapons or something similar. A ban will be a lot harder to defend in court and in public opinion. Reclassifying them the same as machine guns will be quite a bit easier because machines guns have quite a bit of legal history as class 3 weapons and since it isn’t an outright BAN, then it’s a lot harder to say it violates the second ammendment.

  153. Quoting David here:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/12/15/and-now-a-thought-from-justice-scalia/#comment-411926

    You are now–though you clearly don’t understand it–arguing for the legalization of the following things: RPG anti-tank weapons, portable anti-aircraft missiles, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, artillery, and fully-automatic assault weapons of all sorts.

    You start out by lecturing someone about how they “don’t understand” the “legalization” of 7 different types of weapons. The problem is that several poeple have pointed out to you that of those seven weapons you think are “illegal”, five of them (RPG’s, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, and fully automatic assault weapons) are already legal and available for sale right now with the proper paperwork and a bit of googling.

    When it was pointed out how horribly wrong and misinformed you were, you immediately picked up the goal posts and moved them about 70 yards or so down field, trying to focus on just 1 of those 7 different kinds of weapons: a tank.

    David: Really? I can go buy a working M1 Abrams tank, complete with working 120 mm main gun and drive it around my town? Do tell.

    Really? 5 of the 7 weapons you listed as “illegal” are actually legal and can be found for sale on the internet. Do tell.

  154. Here’s an idea. Don’t ban assault rifles. Classify them the same as machine guns and make it so that owners are required to have Class 3 Federal Firearms Licenses.

    Assault rifles are already covered by the National Firearms Act of 1934.

    Assault rifles are select fire weapons. They were restricted, under the circumstances you describe, ten years before they were invented, because they are automatic weapons.

    It appears to me that the creation of the term “assault weapon” and the extension of the term “assault rifle” to cover semi-automatic rifles is part of a deliberate effort by gun control advocates to obscure the distinction between semi-automatic and fully-automatic/burst fire weapons. Indeed, one of the letters from a school child to the President, that was posted online, referred to machine guns.

    As I understand it, Colt modified the AR-15 receiver so that the relevant M-16 parts don’t fit. I’m uncertain about how this applies to other makers.

    I suppose that every semi-automatic weapon in the world could potentially be modified to be fully automatic with some knowledge of gun smithing and the fabrication or purchase of some substitute parts. I’m not familiar with the internals of firearms, but I’m not sure that if you just whittle the sear that you end up with a gun that stops shooting when you let go of the trigger.

    I tried several searches to find numbers on this sort of thing but I didn’t find national statistics. It seems to be quite rare. I found one link that states that an LAPD detective testified that of 4,000 guns recovered by his unit in 1988, 120 were semi-automatic weapons that resembled military weapons and less than 10 had been converted.

    The FBI tracks rifles in general as a category (“assault weapons” aren’t broken out) and they are used in fewer murders than the “other dangerous weapon” category that includes bats and golf clubs.

  155. Hmmm… The interwebs ate my last reply. So here I go again:

    David
    It does if you don’t have citations.

    The closest I’ve come to an online citation is this:
    “During the 1970s further research resulted in the generation of fusion neutrons through convergent shockwaves.”
    http://www.apocalypse-soon.com/nuclear_states.htm

    And then there is this one:
    http://www.polityka.org.pl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=399&Itemid=38
    (Google translatable if you are as monolinguistic as I.)

    Nick from the O.C.
    My point was that a “hydrogen bomb” is a fission/fusion/fission bomb

    That is the easiest type to make, which is why it is also the most popular. But it is by no means the only type.

    If you (or the Polish) can create a fusion reaction directly, bypassing the primary fission stage

    That isn’t anything new. They’ve been doing it in the lab for decades now. The Poles (according to the book I read these many decades ago) were just clever enough to use the exact shape of container and the right timing of explosives to make it practical as a weapon. I’d give more details but then the black helicopters really would be after me.

  156. Really? 5 of the 7 weapons you listed as “illegal” are actually legal and can be found for sale on the internet. Do tell.

    I’m sure, then, that you can come up with a link to a working tank (armament and all) for sale. You haven’t yet, but I remain optimistic.

  157. David: “Legal to buy” and “available for sale at this time” are two different things. Or maybe you’d like to show me a link where I can buy the authentic Mona Lisa?

  158. @David what do tanks have to do with anything?

    Banning assault rifles and not doing anything about handguns is a classic example of magical thinking. A large majority of gun deaths are caused by handguns. Even for the recent mass-slaughter use case a bandoleer of three or four handguns is a reasonable replacement for an assault rifle in almost all the incidents that have occured. There has never been a definition of “assault rifle” that makes any sense in the engineering sense of the word. It’s just a knee jerk , make-ourselves-feel-better-by-pretending-we-are-doing-something reaction. Just like war-on-drugs.

  159. @Mike “As I understand it, Colt modified the AR-15 receiver so that the relevant M-16 parts don’t fit. I’m uncertain about how this applies to other makers.”

    Not quite, they simply modified or replaced the relevant internal parts. The cam on an AR-15 has large grooves that catch the sear preventing automatic fire. Technically, all you need is a burst cam and auto sear. These parts are Class III controlled and nearly impossible to obtain even with the tax stamp and FFL Demo letter.

    While the sear can be reground, you are more likely to end up with a weapon that goes ‘cyclic’ and doesn’t stop firing until the magazine is empty. Doing this is both stupid, and a trip to prison–possibly missing appendages–or the morgue.

    @David It is technically possible to purchase a tank, just as it is technically legal to purchase a LAW or RPG. You need a “Destructive Devices” permit to purchase a surplus or used AT launcher.

    You can buy a tank several ways including here: http://www.armyjeeps.net/armor1.htm

    To obtain a weapons system (assuming it doesn’t have one), you need the same destructive devices permit.

  160. If you want to skip obtaining a seperate weapons system you can go here http://www.excaliburarmy.com/

    They have a T-80 for sale. With the 125mm 2A46 main gun and your choice of a NKST .50 cal machine gun.

    They offer free export and licensing services and excellent shipping plans.

  161. Can I get my T-80 through Amazon Prime free two-day shipping?

    Also every round of tank ammo needs paperwork as a destructive device. Pricey.

  162. Mike: It appears to me that the creation of the term “assault weapon” and the extension of the term “assault rifle” to cover semi-automatic rifles is part of a deliberate effort by gun control advocates to obscure the distinction between semi-automatic and fully-automatic/burst fire weapons.

    Unholyguy: There has never been a definition of “assault rifle” that makes any sense in the engineering sense of the word. It’s just a knee jerk , make-ourselves-feel-better-by-pretending-we-are-doing-something reaction.

    For long guns, hunters only need a fixed, non-removable magazine. If you’re deer hunting and need a 30 round removable magazine and a vest with 8 mags, then you’re doing it wrong. A fixed magazine with a maximum capacity of 10 rounds is all any sane civilian needs for long guns. If you wnat to justify long guns with removable magazines, please provide statistics that show long guns being used for self defense, and those defenders needed more than 10 rounds with no pause to reload.

    For handguns, a removable magazine isn’t as big of a problem because psychopath shooters have to be quite a bit closer than they do with rifles. When Loughner went on a shooting spree in Arizona, he had 33-round magazines. And he was tackled when he stopped to reload. So, handguns can have removable magazines, but maximum 20 rounds.

    To justify handgun magazines greater than 20 rounds, please feel free to provide statistics of handguns used in self-defense, where the defender needed more than 20 rounds in a single magazine. It’s fucking rare.

    So, there you have it. Long guns with removable magazines become class 3 weapons. Handgun magazines greater than 20 rounds are banned. Hunters still get to hunt. People still get to defend themselves. Reasonable, sane, civilians still get guns. And psychopaths looking to go on shooting rampages have a harder time killing so many people.

    Krusatta: @David It is technically possible to purchase a tank, just as it is technically legal to purchase a LAW or RPG. You need a “Destructive Devices” permit to purchase a surplus or used AT launcher.

    yes, but do they have nuclear powered submarines?

    ;/

  163. Mike: Also every round of tank ammo needs paperwork as a destructive device. Pricey.

    It’s been years, but I thought that was only the case if it was an explosive shell. If it was a solid lead slug, I thought it was NOT a destructive device. Maybe I’m thinking of cannons where the ball is separate from the powder charge.

    Hm, I did find this in wikipedia: in the United States, high-powered motors (above 160 newton seconds) are restricted by industry convention to purchasers who possess the requisite certification, though this is not a legal restriction. So, big rocket motors are legal but industry convention is that no commercial entity will sell them to you. They’re legal, but not for sale. Thought I’d point that out because it will probably blow David’s mind.

  164. @ Greg

    They’re legal, but not for sale.

    I suspect that depends on how much money you have. Regardless, the purpose of those certs is to ensure that manufactures and hobbyists prove their competency before NAR and TRA will certify their rockets, akin to the Hays Code for movies. You can still purchase the components for high-powered solid rocket motors and in fact the NAR sued the ATF to keep it that way after the Federal government tried to outlaw possession following 9/11. The fact that reputable dealers won’t sell them to buyers without the pertinent training doesn’t preclude disreputable dealers from doing so. Assuming no dealer can be greased to provide something it isn’t actually illegal for them to sell is…quaint.
    http://www.r-o-c-k.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=36

  165. Greg, I was thinking of explosive shells with respect to destructive device paperwork.

    So sane civillian use is meant to exclude defense from the state, which is more than half of the point of the second ammendment. If statistics are to be our guide to a right, then I would point out that spree killing is statistically pretty rare, and over hundred year spans is quite possibly a smaller insurance risk than oppressive governments.

    Didn’t the Luby’s diner shooter reload a couple times? Reloading is more practical when no one is shooting back. Do you also propose to ban en-block clips and stripper clips?

  166. Gulliver, I wasn’t the one arguing that can’t-be-bought means must-be-illegal. Yes, its quaint/silly. That was sort of my point.

  167. @Krusatta: College students, being individuals, do not behave the way that large banking institutions do (and for that matter, the way groups of individual bankers and financial employees do). That aside, loan forgiveness can mean many things beyond simply erasing loans. For example, allowing graduates to have their loans put on hold, and then forgiven, in exchange for a year or two of public service or work in low-paying, difficult-to-fill positions. Working for the Peace Corps or Legal Aid or as a doctor in an underserved rural community becomes vastly more attractive when you not only can dispense with “how can I afford that salary when I have crushing debt?”, but when part of the long-term pay for your service is that your debt is wiped out.

    It goes back to that whole idea of education as a public good and an investment in our citizenry, rather than a luxury item best left to the idle rich.

  168. Mike: So sane civillian use is meant to exclude defense from the state,

    Sane civliian use excludes David Koresh and other psychopath doomsday preppers, yes. I’d be interested in knowing of a real life person who recently took up arms against the American govenrment and would be considered sane.

    which is more than half of the point of the second ammendment.

    Well, the purpose is actually stated in the ammendment: “a WELL REGULATED militia”. By all means, lets start putting some regulations in this militia. Like the Swiss. Almost ever male there is in the government militia, is trained, and is issued a gun. Lets have a well-regulated militia like Switzerland. And if you’re not interested in being part of the well-regulated militia, then you don’t get to have military firearms. Sure, you can have hunting rifles and shotguns, but fixed, nonremovable magazines.

    If statistics are to be our guide to a right,

    Oh, so its statistics now, eh? OK. America is 5% of the worlds population, but owns 50% of the world’s guns.

    then I would point out that spree killing is statistically pretty rare,

    You know what else is rare? Legitimate armed insurection. It’s really fucking rare. I mean when was the last time a large group of Americans legitimately took up arms against the American government? I’m curious whose name you would give in answer to that question.

    and over hundred year spans is quite possibly a smaller insurance risk than oppressive governments.

    We had something like half a dozen massacres in 2012 alone. You want to let that go for a hundred years, just in case you find a cause for legitimate armed rebelion against the state? Fuck. That.

    Didn’t the Luby’s diner shooter reload a couple times? Reloading is more practical when no one is shooting back.

    Well, there you go. Want to stop massacres and school shootings? Give every child a gun. I’m sure there couldn’t possibly be any negative consequences. As long as someone is “shooting back”, then gun violence will go down.

    Do you also propose to ban en-block clips and stripper clips?

    Aw. Your slippery slope is so cute.

    Here’s your problem and the NRA’s problem. You have to portray anyone who wants any kind of gun regulation as gun-hating jack-booted thugs who wants to disarm the American people and put them gas chambers.

    Only problem is: I’m a better shot than you. Why? Because I’ve shot thousands of rounds through guns in my lifetime. I don’t have a problem with guns. I don’t have a problem with sane people owning sane guns oversighted by sane regulations.

    En-Block clips? Was used by the M1 Garand. A really great weapon used by American troops in WW2. long range round: 30-06 (probably my favorite round). And guess what? The Garand had an 8 round, fixed, nonremovable magazine. yeah, you want en block clips for your garand, knock yourself out. Funny how the workhorse rifle of American military in WW2 just isn’t enough firepower for gun nuts today. It’s gotta be a removable, 40 round magazine, with a vest carrying 8 mags. Yeah, that’s the “sane” approach in this conversation.

    But really, why stop at the AR15? The military issue these days is the fully automatic M4A1, sometimes with an M203 grenade launcher. Anyone should be able to own one of those, right? That’s what the second ammendment is really about, right? A militia, right? Being able to defend oneself from the State, right? So anyone should be able to own military weapons and not have any regulations whatsoever getting in their way, right? Hell, some US military units have M249 Squad Automatic Weapons issued one per fireteam. That’s a 5.56/.203 belt-fed machine gun for a 4-man team. Any American citizen should be able to have one of those too, right? And we can’t let the government regulate it in any way, shape or form, right? Should be able to buy them anonymously, with cash, from a vending machine in a dark alley, right? Otherwise, if you don’t have a SAW and the US military has a SAW, how can you be expected to stand up and fight the US military? Am I Right? Am I right?

    WHich is the long winded way of saying your slippery slope is just silly. No, I don’t want to outlaw guns. I see no reason to prevent hunters from hunting, give them long guns with non-removable magazines. I see no reason to prevent people from self defense, give them handguns with 20 round mags or (gasp) a revolver with 6 rounds.

    Your problem is you have no fact based justification to explain why hunters need M-16’s or SAW’s. You have no fact-based justification to explain why self-defense people need to pack 120 rounds on their person. These would be reasonable regulations, adn you have no serious justification to disprove them, so you have to resort to slippery slope nonsense about jack booted thugs trying to disarm the americna people and herd you into gas chambers.

    Fear mongering.

    It’s the stock-standard NRA response to any reasonable gun control measures. Some paranoid nuts think that unless they can stockpile for their doomsday prepper scenerio of armed insurection against the American military and M1 Abrams tanks, that the spirit of the Second Ammendment has been violated. And sane people who are quite familiar with guns are getting tired of all the bloodshed.

  169. Greg,

    Several advocates & columnists argued from the position that the point of the silly ’92 assault weapon ban was that it got Americans used to the idea of oh so desirable gun control. Lots of such advocates consider your notion of 20 round box mags for hand guns insane. I brought up en-block because you suggested that any sort of detachable box mag puts us at risk ofmass shooters, but such a shooter with a garand could very likely reload several times. Charles Whitman didn’t need fancy hardware. From Whitman to now, the number of mass shooting deaths has been fairly small & it only takes one tyrant to dwarf them.

    I’d rather not argue tyranny can’t happen here while standing on one of the checks against it with a saw.

    I have no doubt you are a better marksman. I’m middling at best and haven’t been to a range in a couple years. I don’t see the significance.

  170. Mike: Lots of such advocates consider your notion of 20 round box mags for hand guns insane.

    Why can’t you live with anything less than a 40 round extended mag on your handgun? Why would it be insane to suggest hunters use fixed magazine rifles when most hunting rifles are in fact fixed magazine rifles? Why would it be insane to suggest magazine limits for handguns when in fact most self-defense handguns are 6 shot revolvers? Revolvers are far more reliable and safe to be carrying loaded, concealed, than a semiautomatic handgun. Only a Glock with its double-safety system is considered as safe as a revolver to carry loaded, with one round in the chamber.

    If you have a sane reason why a hunter or someone carrying for self defense needs more than 20 rounds, I’m all ears. I eagerly await your attempt to change the subject and avoid the question.

    the number of mass shooting deaths has been fairly small & it only takes one tyrant to dwarf them.

    Ah, this sums up perfectly the logic of a doomsday prepper. We must ignore the real world needs of people using guns in the real world for hunting and for self defense. And we must ignore the real world deaths that happen every year as a result of unregulated guns.

    The only thing that really matters to a doomsday prepper is the theoretical worst case doomsday scenario in their paranoid mind. That is what we must base our “sane” gun laws on. Not the real world usage of guns by hunters and the real world usage of guns in cases of self defense.

    In the eyes of a doomsday prepper who knows the black helicopters are orbiting his house just beyond the horizon and knows those helicopters are kept at bay by the AR15 under his bed, anything that prevents the stockpiling of anonymously purchased belt-fed machine guns and assault rifles is insane.

    Yes, this is why people are massacred every year by guns, because paranoid doomsday preppers have somehow managed to redefine what is “sane” use of guns.

  171. Thought I’d point that out because it will probably blow David’s mind.

    I’m just still hoping that you would point out where I can buy a working tank.

  172. David: I’m just still hoping that you would point out where I can buy the original Mona Lisa.

    I’m not asking for a specific tank (which would be the equivalent of the Mona Lisa), I’m asking for _any_ working tank (which equivalent would be any artwork).

    If you’d like to buy a painting, I recommend Mort Kunstler’s Civil War stuff. Overwrought, but fun.

    http://mortkunstler.com/

  173. David Krusatta @ 1:12 today: Don’t some of the ones linked to by Krusatta @ 11:03 yesterday qualify as working? I’m honestly just trying to figure out the definition of “working tank,” here–I’m not really entering the argument.

  174. Mike: Lots of such advocates consider your notion of 20 round box mags for hand guns insane.

    Why can’t you live with anything less than a 40 round extended mag on your handgun?

    Greg, the “such advocates” I was referring to were gun control advocates who would argue that your 20 round box mag was too many. As a practical matter of engineering, a double column magazine for a handgun containing 40 rounds in the usual .380 – .45 calibers would be quite a structure, sticking out 6 inches below the grip and probably making the balance a nightmare. I wouldn’t want one.

    I’ve shot a .22 rifle that used a helical magazine to hold that much ammo but as I recall it didn’t exactly feed particularly reliably. Magazine size is an engineering problem. I’m not buying the notion that there is a magazine size beyond which the gun can only be used for evil and therefore a reasonable person would oppose it.

    When I first learned about laser sights I read an article that remarked with horror that such a device can make Grandma into Wyatt Earp turning a handgun into a terror weapon. At first I bought into the notion, until a classmate wisely pointed out to me that once the situation has deteriorated to the point that deadly force becomes necessary, it is always best to be good at it. The question of whether to use a laser sight in a particular condition, is a question of tactics and engineering.

    Why would it be insane to suggest magazine limits for handguns when in fact most self-defense handguns are 6 shot revolvers? Revolvers are far more reliable and safe to be carrying loaded, concealed, than a semiautomatic handgun. Only a Glock with its double-safety system is considered as safe as a revolver to carry loaded, with one round in the chamber.

    Yes, revolvers tend to be foolproof, I wouldn’t advocate against them. How certain are you that they are the most common carry gun? I found one online poll and all of the top entries were automatics, but I don’t have a great deal of confidence in the poll. There are certainly a lot of .38 special revolvers out there but I rather had the impression that most common choice for carry guns in the last few years were automatics in .380. I won’t say you are wrong without better data.

    Individuals carry guns to protect themselves and others. Police carry guns to protect themselves and others. Practically every cop in the US these days carries an automatic that holds way more than six rounds. Why– multiple assailants, missed shots, and hand gun bullets aren’t very good a stopping attackers. The object of defensive firearm use isn’t to injure or kill the attacker, the object is to stop the attack, and it isn’t uncommon to need several hits to make that happen. Of course uniformed cops will have larger magazine capacities because they carry bigger pistols than those designed for concealed carry.

    I note that when NY limited magazines to 7 rounds recently that they forgot to include police and retired police, and the NY law enforcement community didn’t react well.

    Lots of companies make automatics that are meant to be carried de-cocked with a round in the chamber. Walther made the first one in 1938. Glocks are certainly popular with law enforcement, though I know a Glock owner who considers his trigger to be too easily pulled for carry. Glocks also have a weird two-part trigger which he does not trust to improve matters. The NY police department is so worried about this that they have special Glocks with something like a 12 lbs trigger pull which also gives me misgivings.

    Glocks are certainly popular with law enforcement. Lots of feds carry SIGs with this feature. Baretta makes them. I’d guess pretty much everyone that makes a full line of hand guns makes some models that work this way.

  175. David: I’m just still hoping that you would point out where I can buy a working tank

    No you’re not. You’re trolling. And the only reason you’re trolling is because you don’t have the integrity to just man up and say you screwed up when you said this:

    You are now–though you clearly don’t understand it–arguing for the legalization of the following things

    The problem is that 5 of the 7 things you went on to list are ALREADY LEGAL. You tried lecturing someone about the legalities of weapons, but several people pointed out that you were wrong. But you refuse to straight up acknowledge you were wrong. So instead you’re playing this game called “find me a tank or I’m right” as some kind of weird diversion tactic. No one’s playing that game except you.

  176. Mike: Individuals carry guns to protect themselves and others. Police carry guns to protect themselves and others. Practically every cop in the US these days carries an automatic that holds way more than six rounds. Why– multiple assailants, missed shots, and hand gun bullets aren’t very good a stopping attackers.

    I allowed for 20 round magazines for handguns. You objected. I asked you to explain WHY you need more than 20 round magazines for self defense handguns. You changed the subject.

    Hunters don’t need removable magazine long guns. Self defense handguns don’t need more than 20 round magazines. Make long guns with removable magazines the same weapons class as machine guns, requiring a class 3 federal firearms license. And ban handgun magazines larger than 20 rounds.

    This is entirely reasonable. There is nothing “insane” about this approach. And yet you object, without actually providing a direct justiifcation for why this is not reasonable.

  177. @Mythago Your suggestions are outstanding. I agree that public service in compensation for loan forgiveness would be an excellent program, something similar to a civilian-ized GI Bill. The ONLY concern I have with loan forgiveness is the literal wiping of the slate.

    For the sake of conversation, what would a similar program for liberal arts majors entail? A doctor, for example, has a skill set easily transferable into a public service role. I guess what I’m saying is that it would be a waste of knowledge and skills to take a LA major and say “In return for loan forgiveness, here is a hammer…follow the engineer and put nails where he tells you.”

  178. @Mary Frances The basis of David’s continual argument seems to be since there isn’t an Abrams tank dealership next to the Nissan dealer, it doesn’t count.

    @Greg What’s scary is that, for enough cash, I’m sure someone would sell you a Tango or Victor class nuc boat… And that they might be able to throw in full silos as a bonus

  179. Naw we ARE all doomed. It’s damned we want to avoid. (And, yes, I mean that in an entirely secular way–put the knives back.)

  180. I allowed for 20 round magazines for handguns. You objected. I asked you to explain WHY you need more than 20 round magazines for self defense handguns. You changed the subject.

    I already explained that where you say I objected, I was pointing out that a great many gun control advocates would object that a 20-round magazine is too large and that your suggestion was anything but reasonable.

    I can’t imagine with current technology wanting a handgun that holds more than 20 rounds, not because there is no need, but because engineering, physics, and chemistry stand in the way. I’m talking about garden variety hand guns with the magazine in the grip. I guess things like the Tec 9 are technically handguns but they aren’t exactly handy. Before automatics were invented, this same discussion might have involved envisioning giant revolvers with huge cylinders of a large diameter and discussion about whether one could conceal such a monster. Has anyone in the history of guns ever regretted leaving a confrontation with more ammo than he needed, aside from being staggered by weight?

    I guess what you are looking for is how many sigmas of self-defense scenarios should we allow people to be prepared for and then tell them they should be grateful for our generosity. Sen Dick Durbin of IL recently described 10 as generous. I’m not playing.

  181. Don’t some of the ones linked to by Krusatta @ 11:03 yesterday qualify as working? I’m honestly just trying to figure out the definition of “working tank,” here–I’m not really entering the argument.

    A tank with fully operational armament. I don’t believe the Krusatta ones have that–all the main guns have been “demilled.”

    If I’m wrong, Greg can repost the link! Excitement!

  182. David: I think that’s why I got confused. Krusatta also posted a link to something called excaliburarmy.com (sorry; it was in the following message not the one I referred to last time) and that seems to have been the outfit the guy in this article was discussing: Link Here I Hope . (If the link doesn’t work–I’m terrible at links, here’s the URL, just in case: http://www.automobilemag.com/features/0804_how_to_buy_a_tank/viewall.html.) Anyway, working tank = tank with guns; okay, that makes sense.

  183. @ Krusatta

    Naw we ARE all doomed. It’s damned we want to avoid. (And, yes, I mean that in an entirely secular way–put the knives back.)

    Aww, I was hoping to serve fundie stir fry tonight at my evil octagonal humanist table (pentagrams are harder to pass the salt over).

  184. Krusatta, I was thinking of an upgraded version of an old joke for those liberal arts majors. Rather than the punch line “you want fries with that?”, I was thinking of civil service. Food service worker at a middle school.

  185. Mike

    I suggested 20 round magazines for handguns: Greg: To justify handgun magazines greater than 20 rounds, please feel free to provide statistics of handguns used in self-defense, where the defender needed more than 20 rounds in a single magazine. It’s fucking rare.

    You called that insane: Mike: So sane civillian use is meant to exclude defense from the state, which is more than half of the point of the second ammendment.

    I asked why it’s insane: Greg: Why can’t you live with anything less than a 40 round extended mag on your handgun? Why would it be insane to suggest hunters use fixed magazine rifles when most hunting rifles are in fact fixed magazine rifles?

    Your response? Mike: I’m not playing.

    So, you call gun control you don’t like insane, but you can’t explain WHY its insane. It seems like pretty much every anti-gun-control argument ultimately boils down into the “Chewbacca Defense”.

    Mary: Don’t some of the ones linked to by Krusatta @ 11:03 yesterday qualify as working?

    Meh. In David’s original post, he didn’t even MENTION tanks. And he didn’t even MENTION whether they were for sale or not. He spoke of a bunch of weapons being illegal, when in fact they are legal.

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/12/15/and-now-a-thought-from-justice-scalia/#comment-411926

    He’s been moving the goal posts so many times, he probably doesn’t even remember that. Or at least, he hopes no one else remembers.

    David: If I’m wrong, Greg can repost the link! Excitement!

    You are now–though you clearly don’t understand it–arguing for the legalization of the following things: RPG anti-tank weapons, portable anti-aircraft missiles, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, artillery, and fully-automatic assault weapons of all sorts

    You are wrong. You clearly don’t understand what is legal and what is not. RPG’s, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, mortars, artillery, and fully-automatic assault weapons are all legal.

    You didn’t even mention tanks in that post, and you didn’t say anything about buying them. Goal posts must be getting heavy, I assume.

    But it’s cute watching you run around the field.

    Kevin: There was a fully-functioning M5 light tank at the full-auto shoot in Wyandotte, Oklahoma a year or two back. For enough cash you could put a 37mm round downrange.

    That’s about a 1.5″ diameter projectile. Not too shabby. I wish the video guy could have gotten a better picture of the front of the tank. Oh well.

    Here’s a 40mm anti aircraft gun. You can see how big the shells are.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSp7CipN1pw

  186. See, that’s just it. I’m not interested in punishing them…and that’s what food service in a middle school would amount to. We’d essentially be saying “here’s a minimum wage job to work off your student loans!” Putting aside how that would damage the economy further by sucking existing jobs out of the market, there is a better use of the talents and skills of a LA major. They can teach English, for example. They can do a little PSA graphic design. I wouldn’t care to develop this program, but that is certainly a better answer than “Congratulations, you’ve won $180,000 taxpayer dollars.”

  187. But, Greg, the link! The link to a fully-working tank! It might actually be within view.

    (By the way, if I am just trolling, you are being the trollee, par excellence. Thanks!)

  188. Sorry, hit enter prematurely. So where can I buy the thing in the youtube link (which, by the way, isn’t actually a tank, so you’ll need to do better).

  189. @jimbot You owe me for the fifteen minutes of my life I spent on that article. I take cash, check, card, PayPal and krugerands…

  190. @jimbot, punished for what? For not taking a STEM major? Or because a couple of them participated in political activism you dislike?

    @Krusatta, “liberal arts majors” is so broad a category that it really depends. Look at the WPA, where volunteers went out and collected invaluable oral history. Some can teach, and yes, some are going to end up doing basic work, but I suspect the program would be used less by those with a bachelor’s degree than post-graduate education.

  191. @mythago Okay, I buy that. Perhaps it is a more workable system for terminal degrees. Following that thought, however, makes me think quite a few new bachelor’s degree holders would join the program as they are (usually) younger and able to make less money without the burden of providing for a family.

    Regardless, if a program like this was proposed, I’d vote for it. If you want to open up the petition, I’ll sign it.

    Further, I like the idea of investing in our future and it couldn’t possibly hurt for more people to serve a greater good before seeking the three car garage and boat. It worked right after World War II, it could certainly work again.

  192. Mike:
    So sane civillian use is meant to exclude defense from the state, which is more than half of the point of the second ammendment.

    Perhaps I was unclear here. In this case, I was referring to long guns and your partitioning of sane use into hunting and personal defense, there being no other sane use.

    Greg,

    Several advocates & columnists argued from the position that the point of the silly ’92 assault weapon ban was that it got Americans used to the idea of oh so desirable gun control. Lots of such advocates consider your notion of 20 round box mags for hand guns insane.

    I thought that I had clarified this point but above are the first two sentences of the post. I think I understand the problem now. I was referring to columnists and advocates who though this was a good thing, such as Charles Krauthammer, and I stated in the general sense that many such advocates would consider your 20 round limit insane, not because it is too low, but too high. I think you assumed that I was referring to columnists who think that this was a bad thing. In retrospect I can see that it isn’t absolutely clear. I’m sorry about the confusion.

    I wasn’t commenting on the reasonableness of the 20 round limit, I was commenting on how the word “reasonable” gets used in such contexts. The word “reasonableness” in gun control frequently means that if you don’t move in my direction you are being unreasonable, and in this case I was referring to advocates who openly admitted that their objective was to ski on the slippery slope.

    If we limit handguns to typical handgun designs and exclude things that venture into the realm of semi-automatic variants of machine pistols or are essentially small carbines then I’d not describe a 20 round top end as insane when there typically aren’t any with capacities that large to start with without the addition of oddities like drum magazines or helical ones. I wonder how big of a .22 magazine one could build if one made an effort. It doesn’t mean that I favor legislating a limit.

    I suspect that a significant factor in the recent spate of spree killings is the recent spate of spree killings; that evidence that spree killers gain great notoriety encourages others. I’d be happier if news sources stopped publishing the names of the killers. I suppose that one could argue that it’s a reasonable restriction on our first amendment rights that we pass a law prohibiting the naming of such individuals on the air. While I wish our culture would give this a try, it is my earnest hope that if congress decides to pass such a law that courts strike it down on first amendment grounds. I’d rather pass on that sort of reasonableness and I see a six sigma approach to setting legal magazine sizes in a similar light.

  193. Commenting only because The Proprietor hasn’t deployed a warning or The Mallet (with or without Kitten Setting) as yet…

    I own a total of seven guns. Only one of them accepts more than ten rounds in its magazine. And I have absolutely no problem with that.

    (Of the remaining nine, eight don’t take more than six. And I have no problem with that, either.)

    I recall, about ten years ago, an article in the New York Times discussing the surprisingly large number of NYPD cops still carrying the .38 Special revolvers that they were issued when they went on the job. On one hand, it was certainly an “old-school” thing: wearing a .38 meant you’d been on the street since the mid-80s when NYPD started issuing semi-autos, and had therefore been around the block a few times. On the other, most if not all of the officers in question had the same outlook (paraphrased from memory): “If you need more than six rounds, you better be behind your car, your partner better have the shotgun out, and you damn well better have called for backup.”

  194. Krus, the important information was in the 1st paragraph. I’ve learned on other forums that if you want your supporting argument to be read, it’s best not to use foxnews or NRO as a source. I found a nice liberal site that spent most of the article trying to justify his idiotic actions and making him sympathetic.
    Myth, President Obama is pushing a college degree as a necessary item to get hired. A LA degree will not provide someone with the skills to fill the jobs that are being created now days. This teacher tried to game the system. The NY school system apparently doesn’t monitor what the teachers are getting their advanced degrees in, just giving raises for getting them. I’m sure that the teacher was shocked, Shocked mind you, that the school budget was cut and that his degree was worthless.

    Ask yourself, would you really want this teacher teaching your children? Would he provide your children with the skills they would need to achieve in the future?

  195. @jimbot This is what I get for a pithy comment lol. I DID get the point behind your posting the article, and it is my fault for pushing past my usual tolerance of drivel. I’ll bill The Nation instead.

  196. Mike: long guns and your partitioning of sane use into hunting and personal defense, there being no other sane use.

    And again, what other sane use is there? You haven’t mentioned one yet.

    I’d be happier if news sources stopped publishing the names of the killers.

    So, restrict the first ammendment but not the second? Interesting.

    Don: I own a total of seven guns. Only one of them accepts more than ten rounds in its magazine. And I have absolutely no problem with that.

    I’m going to guess that the reason for this is that you’re sane and use guns for reality-based uses, like hunting and self defense, rather than for non-reality based uses like doomsday prepping for armed insurection against your own government.

    It’s a simple solution, really. Re-classify all long guns with removable magazines (or fixed magazines holding more than 10 rounds) as requiring a class 3 federal firearms license, the same as machine guns. Don’t BAN them. Put them in the same category as machine guns and regulate them as such. And either ban all handgun magazines larger than 10 or 20 rounds, or reclassify all handguns with removable magazines as class 3 weapons as well.

    David: which, by the way, isn’t actually a tank,

    (face palm) Congratulations, Panda, you just “won”

  197. Mike: long guns and your partitioning of sane use into hunting and personal defense, there being no other sane use.

    And again, what other sane use is there? You haven’t mentioned one yet.

    Well yes, I suppose it is true that defense against tyranny is part of the self-defense category. Yes, I am aware of your assertion that it is insane because in this particular country we haven’t seen it. There you go.

    I have also found that if you have two detachable magazines, two people can share a rifle at the range. There the capacity isn’t the issue so much as the detachability. Yes it’s trivial, but it’s not insane.

    I’d be happier if news sources stopped publishing the names of the killers.

    So, restrict the first ammendment but not the second? Interesting.

    Perhaps you didn’t read this line:
    While I wish our culture would give this a try, it is my earnest hope that if congress decides to pass such a law that courts strike it down on first amendment grounds.

    From this you get first amendment restriction?

    Just in case I was somehow unclear, not only do I not want congress to pass such a law, I don’t want any state or local government to pass such a law, nor do I want the FCC to try some regulatory end run.

  198. Mike: defense against tyranny

    You’ve romanticized guns to the point that “defense against tyranny” somehow magically avoids including Americans who in actual historical reality used firearms to defend themselves against the tyranny of the American govenrment: people like David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Scott Roeder, Nidal Malik Hasan, Andrew Joseph Stack III, among others.

    That’s what your “defense against tyranny” looks like in the real world. That’s how it really, actually, historically plays out in America.

    So, in short, no, you have no sane use for firearms beyond hunting and personal self defense.

    I have also found that if you have two detachable magazines, two people can share a rifle at the range. There the capacity isn’t the issue so much as the detachability. Yes it’s trivial, but it’s not insane.

    Yes, indeed, you are totally correct: That is an entirely trivial example of a “sane” use for large capacity magazines that in no way whatsoever justifies itself against the counterweight that is the massacres that occur by nutjobs with military type weapons.

    This is the logic of the NRA in a nutshell: There may or may not be some lives saved by regulating high capacity magazines, but we KNOW with absolute certainty that if you outlaw large capacity magazines, gun owners at a firing range won’t be able to share a rifle at the range, and what horror of humanity would we be living in THEN??? Hmmm????

    While I wish our culture would give this a try, it is my earnest hope that if congress decides to pass such a law that courts strike it down on first amendment grounds.

    Oh, god. Wait. So, you’re saying that you support society trying to persuade behavior through cultural pressure, but that you don’t want society to be able to coerce behavior through a constitutional democracy????

    So….. I’ve been arguing with a Libertarian all this time?????

    Ugh…

  199. That’s odd. You need detachable magazines to share a rifle at a range? I’ve shared a six-gun at a range, and there was no detachable magazine there. Why in the world is a detachable magazine necessary for sharing any kind of weapon at a range? I don’t understand.

  200. “Defense Against Tyranny” is the name of my next band.

    I will point out that the best weapons to use while defending against tyranny are fully automatic machine guns. Belt fed if you can afford it and the ammo. If the tyranny you’re defending against is outside your compound with armored personel carriers, then I would recommend the ma-deuce as the go-to weapon for defending against tyranny. Fully automatic, belt fed, fifty caliber. It can punch through light armor and has a hellagood range when mounted on a tripod.

    The ma-deuce is also classified as weapon requiring a Class 3 Federal Firearms License if you want to own own. I think this is actually a good compromise. If you want to own a weapon to Defend Against Tyranny, then you’re talking about a weapon that is geared for armed insurrection against your own government. And I think a little bit of paperwork is a reasonable compromise for owning a weapon of mass insurrection.

    “Weapon of Mass Insurrection” is the name of the band after my next band.

    Cally: Why in the world is a detachable magazine necessary for sharing any kind of weapon at a range? I don’t understand.

    I assume it was Mike’s gun-owners-are-cruelly-victimized-by-the-government shtick getting a little carried away: Forget about all those massacres! Gun owners won’t be able to share a weapon at the firing range! Oh the inhumanity!

  201. I’m not the one discussing tanks. I prefer being a theif myself. That way I can pretend to be a Democratic politician.

  202. Cally: Why in the world is a detachable magazine necessary for sharing any kind of weapon at a range? I don’t understand.

    I assume it was Mike’s gun-owners-are-cruelly-victimized-by-the-government shtick getting a little carried away: Forget about all those massacres! Gun owners won’t be able to share a weapon at the firing range! Oh the inhumanity!

    I said it was trivial at the outset.

    No you obviously don’t need two mags to share a gun at the range, but it does facilitate matters under certain conditions.

    The range in question had a .22 plinking pond. You tossed marshmallows and other biodegradable stuff into the pond and shot it with a .22.

    So if you have a Ruger 10/22 with two magazines one person loads a 10-round mag while the other shoots. There is no need for a spotting scope or regular breaks to go and change targets. You’ll want a brick apiece of 22LR.

    The death rate from spree killing isn’t high (2-10 times that of 5-gallon bucket drownings) and I doubt that your proposal would attenuate that very much. Michael Z. Williamson has already suggested the “bring a sack of revolvers” method. Heck, at today’s prices, you can probably buy a sack of revolvers for the price of an AR-15. Sometimes I wonder if Diane Feinstein and Charles Schumer are stockholders in gun companies.

  203. Mike: I doubt that your proposal would attenuate that very much.

    So, given the choice between saving even one life versus giving up the convenience of sharing ammo at a shooting range, you’ll choose convenience?

    Michael Z. Williamson has already suggested the “bring a sack of revolvers” method.

    Oh bullshit. If you honestly thought a sackful of revolvers is just as devastating as an AR15 with eight 40-round magazine, then you would just as easily “defend against tyranny” with a sackful of revolvers. But you don’t believe that for a second. You want the AR15 because you KNOW it has far more firepower than a sackful of revolvers.

    So, now you’re just lying in an attempt to find any reason at all to dismiss reasonable gun control laws. You are trying to pretend that regulating weapons like AR15s would not “attenuate” the death toll from massacres “very much” because psychopaths would just show up with a “sackful of revolvers” and create the same amount of carnage. You’re trying to pretend that regulating weapons like AR15’s wouldn’t have any effect because you’re trying to pretend that an AR15 is absolutely no different from a sackful of revolvers.

    OK. Fine. If they’re exactly the same, you should have no objection to outlawing weapons like AR15’s because you can just go buy a sackful of revolvers instead.

    What’s that? You don’t want to get a sackful of revolvers to replace your AR15??? Gee. I wonder why that could be??? Oh, I know. It’s because you full fucking well know that an AR15 is a fuck-ton more firepower than a sackful of revolvers. And you’re now willing to make any bullshit excuse to dismiss any attempt at sane gun control laws.

    See, this is the problem with arguing guns and gun control with someone who shoots better than you. Because I know the reality of guns. I know how they work. I know how they don’t work. And I know bullshit when I see it. And your argument is bullshit.

  204. Greg:

    You’re doing that thing where you’re getting testy at the person, thus diluting the effectiveness of your argument. Climb down, please, and focus on the argument.

  205. Greg,

    So, given the choice between saving even one life versus giving up the convenience of sharing ammo at a shooting range, you’ll choose convenience?

    Perhaps not if that were the only utility of detachable magazines. You asked for a non insane use and I provided one. I said it was trivial — two or three times now at this point.

    In general though “if it would just save just one life” arguments are nonsense. We choose not to do all sorts of things that would “save just one life”, make all the bridges an inch wider. It’s right up there with “think of the children” .

    Your six sigma approach to setting magazine size is that if 99% (or some other number you apparently get to choose as the appointed agent of Lord Veternari) of self defense scenarios with long guns are satisfied with 10 rounds (or whatever number drops out of the bell curve). All I really have to do is come up with a reasonable but rare self defense scenario in which I need 11 rounds to match your “just one life” requirement.

    You’re trying to pretend that regulating weapons like AR15′s wouldn’t have any effect because you’re trying to pretend that an AR15 is absolutely no different from a sackful of revolvers.

    The requirements for spree killing in a gun free zone are different from those involved in resisting tyranny. The ranges are going to be shorter (well aside from Whitman), and there generally isn’t much time pressure while reloading or changing guns, and no one is shooting back.

    I could accuse you of trying to pretend that you think the requirements for the two are the same or of lying about it, but I choose to accept that you are offering my your opinion and aren’t just trolling,

    See, this is the problem with arguing guns and gun control with someone who shoots better than you. Because I know the reality of guns. I know how they work. I know how they don’t work. And I know bullshit when I see it. And your argument is bullshit.

    I may well not be as experienced a shooter as you are though you haven’t really told us what that experience is. I’ve probably fired fewer than 10,000 rounds and more than half of those were .22. I have fired a few guns in my time, both rifles and pistols (haven’t tried a shotgun yet), semi-automatic and otherwise (mostly semi though). I’ve not fired a fully automatic weapon. I’ll take it on faith that you are a better marksman. Of course neither of us actually know if this is true, but I’m also not concerned that the disparity significantly diminishes the validity of my point of view. I’ve field stripped and cleaned a few and am reasonably familiar with how they work.

    It’s true that I’ve never really taken down a semi-automatic mechanism and seen what a sear actually is and really groked the workings of semi vs. fully automatic weapons. I’m also not convinced that you have either. Based on your statements about Glocks being the only suitable automatic for carry, I suspect that in many technical areas I may be more knowledgeable than you. I’m reasonably sure I know considerably more about the subject than Diane Feinstein.

    I also know a guy who was a platoon leader in Vietnam, has plenty of actual combat experience and absolutely wouldn’t go for your proposed limitations if I told him about them. In his opinion I’m remiss because I don’t have a semi-automatic battle rifle in 7.62 NATO like a G3. I damn well know he’s a better marksman and he’s tried to help me improve my grip. So without seeing the two of you compete I think I’ll just decide that he’s a better marksman and on that basis I suggest you tell everyone to buy a G3 with lots of big magazines.

  206. Mike: See, the problem here is you require hard statistics to oppose things you don’t want:

    Your six sigma approach to setting magazine size is that if 99% ….

    But you only provide your own personal hypothetical worst case scenario for things you DO want:

    The requirements for spree killing in a gun free zone are different from those involved in resisting tyranny.

    Do tell, what ARE the six sigma numbers for “resisting tyranny”? These numbers of course would have to be reality based.

    How much of the Arab Spring came out of the citizens of their respective countries taking up assault rifles and belt fed machine guns against their governments? Versus how much was due to public protest, communications channels like the internet and social media, and such?

    I would say the vast majority of Arab Spring arose out of Free Speech, not Free Guns.

    You also totally ignore any reality or facts when they are diametrically opposed to what you want. You keep wanting to put on your knight in white armor about how you need assault rifles to “resist tyranny” but you never acknowlege when that goes wrong. People who decide to use deadly force against what they deem to be evil, include people like: David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Scott Roeder, Nidal Malik Hasan, Andrew Joseph Stack III, etc. And you just magically ignore that in the cost/benefit analysis.

    Statistically speaking, you take the worst possible case outcome of gun CONTROL:

    All I really have to do is come up with a reasonable but rare self defense scenario in which I need 11 rounds to match your “just one life” requirement

    and compare it against the best possible outcome of UNCONTROLLED guns.

    So sane civillian use is meant to exclude defense from the state, which is more than half of the point of the second ammendment. , resisting tyranny, defend against tyranny,

    This is statistical, factual, nonsense.

    If you want to compare and contrast the pros and cons of assault rifles, you don’t get to cherry pick the data. You don’t get to find the worst possible hypothetical outcome of gun control and compare it to some sanitized version of unregulated assault rifles where fucking psychopaths go on killing sprees somehow magically don’t count in your scale. You want to compare and contrast, then you have to take all of the good and bad of both.

    But you have done an exemplary job of representing the standard pro-gun-no-regulations attitude. You compare the reality of six mass shootings in a year against some hypothetical paranoid doomsday prepper scenario of tyrannical government trying to put you in the gas chambers, and you think that’s reasonable and sane comparison.

    The thing about paranoid poeple is that there is no end to their paranoia. It doesn’t matter how many real children are killed every year by real psychopahts with real assault rifles. The paranoid gun nut will always have a bigger, badder, doomsday scenario that is worse than that. And therefore, they will oppose any gun regulations.

    I asked for sane uses of guns besides hunting and personal self defense, and your only reply has been vague handwavey hypothetical paranoid doomsday prepper scenarios involving “tyranny”. But it isn’t reality based. It’s made up, based on zero facts. Based on your own personal fears.

    tell everyone to buy a G3 with lots of big magazines

    Yes, nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?

    And really, why stop there? If you’re going to resist tyranny, and if you’re someone like David Koresh with a military style compound, then you really need something like a 50 caliber belt fed machine gun. We should remove the regulations on those weapons too, right? How can we resist tryanny if we have to do paperwork to get our guns?

    That wasn’t a hypothetical question, by the way. I’d really like to know if you think we should remove machine guns from their class 3 status. Do you think that a 50 caliber belt fed machine gun should be as easy to buy as a bolt action .22 caliber rifle?

  207. Mike, your responses remind me of a lot of conversations I end up having about gun control. And when one gets down to it, those responses are pretty funny. So i decided to try and capture the essence of these types of conversatoins here:

    http://www.warhw.com/2013/01/26/gun-conversation/

    I figure, if I get into a gun control conversatoin with someone like you in the future, I can just point to that link and save the trouble of having the same conversation over and over again.

    Thanks

  208. “In general though “if it would just save just one life” arguments are nonsense.”

    Indeed. We do not, across the board, do anything to save just one life. There have been at least three people killed by the New York Subway in the last few months, and the actual rate appears to be in the neighborhood of twenty people per year.

    It’s probably impossible to stop all of them. For one thing, a not insubstanial percentage are suicides. But we don’t spend the money necessary to stop the ones we could. Setting up railing to stop people from getting close to the tracks, or digging dead man’s trenches, both of which can reduce deaths by half.

    But we don’t.

    And we don’t ban swimming pools, which kill at least a few hundred people each year. And serve no purpose other than being fun and, for the purposes of exercise, convenient. Just as we haven’t mandated that all cars be built to limit their speed so that crash survivabilty is 99%, or with built in alcohol monitors.

    “If it would just save one life” is an extremely cheap rhetorical trick, designed to either get the person it’s directed to reverse their position to look humane, or to make them look callous if they don’t do so. A cheap trick for people who merely interested in the appearance of winning an argument.

  209. Justin: “If it would just save one life” is an extremely cheap rhetorical trick

    Oh bah. A cheap rhetorical trick is someone who opposes all gun regulations of any kind trying to argue that “self defense use of guns saves lives” when what is being proposed doesn’t hinder law abiding citizens from defending themselves in the first place.

    I’m not proposing we ban assault rifles or ban large capacity magazines. I’m proposing we reclassify any firearm with a removable magazine to be in the same category as a machine gun, requiring a class 3 federal fireams license to purchase.

    Hunters can still hunt with fixed, nonremovable magazines, which describes most hunting rifles anyway. People can still defend themselves with revolvers. And if you really feel the need to have a firearm with a removable magazine, then get a class 3 federal firearms license, and buy a belt fed machine gun for all I care.

    But ultimately, it isn’t about “self defense use of guns saves lives”, is it? It’s really about “Gargleblargle!!! I hate the gummint making me fill out these forms to have my guns!!!!” Even if a form would save lives, these people would oppose it. It never was about “self defense use of guns saves lives”. It was always “Find any way possible to oppose any and all gun regulations while trying to sound as reasonable as possible about it.” That’s why its a cheap rhetorical trick.

    A cheap trick for people who merely interested in the appearance of winning an argument.

    wait, appearance of winning??? OK, lets see if you’ve “won”. I have one simple question for you:

    Do you think machine guns should be as easy to purchase as a bolt action .22 rimfire rifle? Why or why not?

    I asked Mike this question and he ignored it. I expect you will ignore it too. Because to acknowledge it in any way would force you to [1] acknowledge that some weapons require more regulations than other weapons or [2] reveal yourself to think machine guns should be treated no differently than a varmint rifle.

    If you say [1], then you’ve lost the argument, because if some weapons can be regulated more than others, then there is no fundamental reason that prohibits assault rifles from being regulated more than hunting rifles. And if you say [2], then you lose the facade that you’re trying to find a reasonable solution to the problem of guns, because anyone who thinks machine guns should be easy for anyone to obtain automatically reveals themselves to be totally unreasonable.

    The only option for a “I oppose all gun control laws of any kind” person to do with this question is ignore it. If they give any reply of any kind, they lose.

    So, go on. Show everyone how reasonable you are and give a reasonable answer to my question. If you give no answer, I think that pretty much indicates that you’re coming from a completely unreasonable position and just can’t bring yourself to acknowlege it.

  210. Greg,

    I wasn’t ignoring you, I was doing other weekend stuff and thinking a little about the National Firearms Act.

    ike: See, the problem here is you require hard statistics to oppose things you don’t want:

    But you only provide your own personal hypothetical worst case scenario for things you DO want:

    I didn’t ask you for any hard statistics. I was describing your approach.

    You keep wanting to put on your knight in white armor about how you need assault rifles to “resist tyranny” but you never acknowledge when that goes wrong. People who decide to use deadly force against what they deem to be evil, include people like: David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Scott Roeder, Nidal Malik Hasan, Andrew Joseph Stack III, etc.

    It a founding principle of this country that there does come a tipping point
    when that is what you do. I wonder what the founders would
    make of the degree of state intrusion that we all accept as normal.
    Your comparison to the Arab Spring is apt in the sense that a large
    cultural tipping point is needed, presumably involving millions of
    people in a country the size of the US.

    I would say the vast majority of Arab Spring arose out of
    Free Speech, not Free Guns.

    Egypt was a military coup and Libya was a shooting war. I agree that
    the 1st amendment is also vital and am also against a legal action to
    restrict violent video games and violent rap music, however
    ‘reasonable’ the restrictions might seem.

    and compare it against the best possible outcome of
    UNCONTROLLED guns.

    Sooner or later we are probably going to have to get used to dealing with people and not their tools. If we see sinterred metal digital printers in consumer grades, arms will probably turn up. AR-15s are probably too metalurgically sophisticated, but some descendent of the Sten might turn up.

    That wasn’t a hypothetical question, by the way. I’d
    really like to know if you think we should remove machine guns from
    their class 3 status. Do you think that a 50 caliber belt fed machine
    gun should be as easy to buy as a bolt action .22 caliber
    rifle?

    I looked this up on Wikipedia, knock yourself out if you want a better source. You don’t need a federal firearms license (class 3 or otherwise) to buy weapons controlled by the national Firearms act. A dealer in NFA weapons needs a particular class of FFL.

    The requirements are:
    You do need to do a stack of paperwork, submit photos and finger prints, get a background check, get the local police chief or sheriff to sign off, pay a tax, register the gun, and get permission from the BATFE to move an NFA weapon across state lines.

    We can leave aside for now that due to another law, you can’t buy “machine guns” ,which I take it to mean automatic weapons, that were made after 1986.

    So I will assume that when you suggested that AR-15s should require a class III license, this is actually what you had in mind.

    A lot of what this boils down to is may issue vs. shall issue. Lots of Americans live in jurisdictions where the police won’t sign the form for an NFA weapon. Some of those who will not would if the request were for an AR-15 rather than an automatic weapon. It isn’t a case of just doing a bunch of extra paperwork, which is how you have framed the objections of gun owners to such a restriction.

    So how do those restrictions applied to an AR-15 affect the spree shooing scenario? It is conceivable that the police sign-off or the background check might turn up something that the Brady Bill check does not. I don’t actually know what the BATF does, but I suspect that the key aspect is a records check, just as with the Brady check.

    So is there a big need for spree shooters to carry an AR-15 across state lines? Will they be deterred by the law if they do? The taxes are irritating, but AR-15s are expensive these days, and I doubt that has much bearing. Perhaps it’s intended to keep out the riff-raff spree shooters.

    Then there is the registration provision.

    Spree shooters are generally caught or don’t survive the attack. They generally don’t flee the scene, leaving the gun behind. If a gun is recovered at the scene, the BATF can forward trace the gun. It can take a while. I suppose that if the gun were registered in an NFA database, the trace would be immediate.

    In the tyranny scenario, registration is a definite minus. On the other hand, by the time a large number of people decided to take up arms, the government would likely have already started illegally forward tracing every record, unless a number of manufacturers and dealerships stood up to them.

    On balance, your suggestion that rifles with detachable magazines be NFA weapons has a heck of a lot more to do with an attempt to create a defacto ban than with the specific provisions actually being helpful to preventing spree killing.

    As to your question about whether current NFA weapons should not be, I don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about this, but probably yes for small arms.

    For an M2 I might consider a scheme where the law enforcement sign-off were replaced with more concrete shall-issue requirements.

    The ultimate version of your question is “So do you think you have the right to own a nuke”. Since you have decided to move on to having semi-automatic conversations on your web site, then I guess SF writer Michael Z. Willaimson’s comment might be on point.:
    http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/yes-nukes

    From the dialog that you linked to:

    Me: Meh. The US M16 rifle, standard miltary issue for the last 50 years, doesn’t even have a full-auto mode. It only shoots 3 round burst. What HAS changed, is the magazine size. During the Vietnam war, the standard issue magazine was 20 rounds. The magazine was eventually expanded to 40 rounds, but the M16 never went beyond a 3-round burst. So, even the US military acknowledges by design that the killing capacity of their standard issue infantry weapon doesn’t come from being fully automatic, but rather from having large capacity, quickly reloadable, magazines.

    I was under the impression that the current size is 30.

    The Vietnam era M-16 could fire in fully automatic mode. Perhaps you haven’t seen the footage of soldiers sticking the gun over the parapet, and waving it around while holding the trigger down. That sort of behavior was a problem.

    Assault rifles fire an intermediate cartridge and are select fire weapons. The intermediate cartridge is light, and the recoil is low, making it possible to shoot it in a fully automatic mode without a bi-pod. You generally aren’t supposed to shoot long bursts with an automatic weapon.

    You might want to have a look at:
    Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer A Monograph By Major Thomas P. Ehrhart, United States Army

    If the military didn’t consider the part about being fully-automatic important, the M16 wouldn’t have a three round burst mode. The impression I get is that the the M16 was changed because the Army didn’t want to spend time training the fire discipline in a era when everyone was more interested in nuclear weapons. The M4 carbine also has the three round burst mode, but the M4A1 goes back to the full-auto mode. It appears that special operations guys are getting M4A1s, but the Army appears to have decided to start issuing them to everyone because the three round burst mechanism gives the trigger a funny feel. Not everyone agrees with the change. Fire discipline training appears to be the essence of the problem. I had trouble finding a specific reliable source here for what the Army intends to do going forward.

    I think you are correct in that there are times when the Army does want riflemen to shoot one round at a time but they are squeezing them off to hit distant targets.

    If the Army doesn’t ever want its troops to shoot full auto, they could just issue guns that don’t and since three 5.56 NATO rounds are probably lighter than one 7.62mm NATO round they could use weapons that fired that instead. Indeed the British did that until the 90s. They put off switching to 5.56mm until after the first Gulf War was over, because who needs that headache mid-war, and they realized that the longer reach of the 7.62 NATO round might be of some use in the desert.

    tell everyone to buy a G3 with lots of big magazines

    Yes, nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?

    I don’t ever advise everyone to buy any sort of gun. I know there are towns that have tried passing “everyone has to have a gun” ordnance. I wouldn’t vote for such a thing. Actually my friend was suggesting several of us that had experience with firearms buy a G3, not everyone. As for what is likely to go wrong, well instead of being a semi-automatic small game rifle it’s a semi-automatic deer rifle. So far as I know, if you fit it with a magazine with a capacity under the limit for hunting in your particular state then you can hunt deer with it, if your state allows the use of rifles to hunt deer.

    Until the Clinton Administration the US Department of Civilian Marksmanship offered shooting days around the country and if you participated in several of them, they sent you a M1 Garand via the US mail. So a G3 has a box magazine instead of an en-block clip and isn’t made of wood.

    Keep in mind that my reply was offered up in some sarcasm in response to the suggestion that the key to the validity of your opinion is your greater experience with firearms and indeed your greater skill as a marksman. So I pointed out that my friend with jungle combat experience and lots of range time in civilian life disagrees with your position.

    I certainly agree that some familiarity with firearms is helpful to such discussions, both some practical knowledge and book knowledge, but an ability to put more holes in the X than someone else doesn’t automatically make your argument more valid.

    I do agree that having a sack of revolvers is not every bit as effective as having a semi-automatic, shoulder fired weapon in a spree shooting scenario depending on the distance. It obviously wouldn’t have worked for Charles Whitman. Indeed, if the deputy at Columbine had a shoulder arm, he probably would have stopped one of the shooters, but if Loughner had a 2nd handgun ready at hand, jumping him during the reload may not have been practical and the Luby’s shooter reloaded his handguns several times.

    I stand by my assertion that the if you were to write engineering requirements for spree shooting and defense against tyranny you would get different results. The spree shooter who doesn’t particularly care who he shoots can plan his attack to kill lots of people with a sack of revolvers. Given the rarity of such attacks in the first place, the reduction attributable to switching to a sack of revolves is apt to be small.

    I suppose the notion that tyranny can’t happen in the United States is the only sort of American Exceptionalism that is still popular. We recite the mantra that it can’t happen here.

    Tyranny can happen in civilized places. We have a variety of checks against it. One of those checks is the 2nd amendment. In the case of the US, we run the risk of the tyranny that is popular. The Westboro baptist church is unpopular for a good reason, but when my attention was brought to one of the White House’s online petitions that called for banning the church, I found it a bit chilling. A surprising number of people consider the notion that the United States is a constitutional, federal republic and not a unitary government to either be an anachronistic curiosity or never knew about it in the first place.

    The founders were concerned about tyranny and I’ve seen little to convince me that our public servants are any more conscientious, or virtuous than 18th century public servants. Louis Michael Seidman’s op-ed “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution” doesn’t strike me as a good sign.

    So no, I don’t think it’s reasonable to characterize the possibility of tyranny as a totally paranoid, can’t-happen threat. It’s not particularly likely, at least in the foreseeable future, but I think the annualized expected value of deaths that such an event represents is considerably larger than the number of murders that your suggested policy is apt to prevent. That would be true if your plan stopped every spree murder, which I don’t think it would come close to doing.

    You also wave around the label “disaster prepper” as a way to attempt to invalidate the argument of anyone who considers this possibility real. People prepare for disasters of varying size to varying degrees, and I probably ought to be a bit more prepared. I doubt that very many reader of Whatever are living in armed camps waiting for the end of the world.

    Greg, I believe that I’ve addressed most of the points that you raised. If not, I’m sorry, but I think I’ve probably had my fill of this discussion, which is taking place in the deep reaches of the comments to a blog entry about the Presidential Inauguration that was timely days ago. I suspect it’s being read by about five people. Perhaps some other time.

  211. Do you think that a 50 caliber belt fed machine gun should be as easy to buy as a bolt action .22 caliber rifle?

    Several thousand words, and you still managed to not answer the question. Good job.

  212. From your link: So, yes. I have a right to own a nuke.

    OK. Thanks for demonstrating a sane and reasonable approach to the right to bear arms.

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