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17 December 2012


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As I have stated before: If the NRA does not provide leadership on this, others will and I doubt they will like the results. The key will be to arrive at something that can be widely supported by everyone, including those who do not own guns.

John Minnerath

The NRA could perform a professional and objective study of the problems and issues involved.
The big problem will be the vociferous anti gun owner groups who practically have apoplexy at the mention of the NRA.
Something like this should still be supported.


I'd go one further...
Given the NRA controls Congress (in our post-constitutional style of managing the public interest), I would make it wholly responsible for our Federal gun control policies... & directly responsible to the citizenry for the outcome of the policy choices they promulgate. Give 'em 2 yrs. ... & if the Prez is not satisfied, remove their tax-free lobby status & seek every possible means to disband them, de facto & de jure. (apply some of that Unitary Presidential power we used to hear so much about...)

It just might be past its expiration date.

Clifford Kiracofe

The panel would need to take into account issues such as:
public mental health, youth violence, school violence, violent films and entertainment, violent video games, youth subcultures such as Goths and the violent death metal music culture.

Additionally, the panel would have to examine the massive gang violence problem in the US as well as violent aspects of the massive narcotics problem in the United States.

As a member of the NRA myself, it would seem to me that the organization would support such areas for investigation and analysis as part of a presidential commission.

Congress has various committees which have jurisdiction over various aspects of this issue. They can get busy.

Then we have 50 states with legislatures that can investigate this issue. They can get busy.

The country needs to address our "culture of violence" as well as the condition iof public health/mental health services relating to the issue.

And so on.

Edward Amame

It could be that rank and file NRA members and the vast majority of non-gun owners would welcome such a commission. This idea might be something for so-inclined NRA members, especially those in swing states, to contact their legislators to endorse. My concern is that NRA leadership, in its current role as lobbying arm of the domestic gun industry, would not welcome such a commission.

r whitman

I have said for years that any progress toward a solution to our firearms problem has to be with the cooperation of the NRA.


E. Amame

"NRA leadership, in its current role as lobbying arm of the domestic gun industry" Any evidence for that? The firearms manufacturers have their own trade group. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

The state of Colorado has increased its support for mental health services in light of the Aurora event:

"The Democratic governor argued that some gun regulations need to be tweaked but said more immediate changes can take place by targeting mental health. Since this summer's deadly shooting in Aurora, he said his state has spent almost $20 million in new programs to support those dealing with mental illness and educate others to recognize symptoms that could be dangerous.

"That's something we can do immediately without getting into some of the battles of gun legalization or restricting access to guns," he said, though acknowledging the "discussion of gun safety is going to continue."


But Hickenlooper argued the "country is based on the Second Amendment" and pointed to cases that have "repeatedly" shown the amendment "does protect peoples' rights to bear arms, to have guns."

"My grandfather taught me how to shoot and clean a 12-gauge shotgun and showed me how to hunt, and I've showed my son," he said. "That tradition is very powerful throughout this country."


It would certainly be better than a politician driven 'Patriot Act' of gun control legislation.

Edward Amame

@ Pat lang

More than 50 firearms-related companies have given at least $14.8 million to the Fairfax, Virginia-based group, according to the NRA’s own list for a donor program that began in 2005. That same year, NRA lobbyists helped win passage of a federal law that limited liability claims against gun makers. Former NRA President Sandy Froman wrote that it “saved the American gun industry from bankruptcy.”

“Unlike organizations which start out controlled by industry and created by industry, like lobbying groups for coal or oil, they really started out as a grassroots organization and became an industry organization,” said William Vizzard, a former agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who’s now a professor of criminal justice at California State University in Sacramento. He studied the NRA for a 2000 book on gun policy.


The NRA receives millions of dollars directly from domestic and foreign gun manufacturers and other members of the firearms industry through an organized corporate outreach program, according to a new report issued today by the Violence Policy Center, called "Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA."


I beg to differ Professor Kiracofe, the panel needs to focus on firearm violence only, period.

"The panel would need to take into account issues such as:
public mental health, youth violence, school violence, violent films and entertainment, violent video games, youth subcultures such as Goths and the violent death metal music culture. "

If the panel does not focus single mindedly on the one issue - firearm violence, it will be quickly and efficiently perverted by the NRA and/or others into a useless paen about "our violent society" in which firearm violence itself is just a small and insignifigant part, etc. etc. In other words, the Cosi Fan Tutti defence.

In Australia we are currently watching a Royal Commission into decades of institutional child abuse by the Institutions of the Catholic Church being perverted at the urging of that Church into just such a "wide ranging" inquiry that will ultimately prove too general in scope to offer concrete conclusions.

If I were the NRA, I would seek for the panel to have exactly your suggested terms of reference as my best hope for an outcome favourable to me.

Clifford Kiracofe

As I have posted in other threads, in this country the issues are intertwined. Which is why various elements of the federal government have analyzed it from various perspectives as I have said.

I pointed out the various studies on this issue from the US Secret Service, the Dept of Education, the Surgeon's Generals office and the like. There are many more studies not to mention data at the State Police level and major metropolitan police levels such as NYC and LA.

I forget which country you live in but each country has its own culture legal traditions, and challenges and solutions, IMO.

I did not even get into the issue of violence from a brain chemistry angle and forensic psychiatry. The effects on the reduction of seratonin levels by cocaine abuse and so on.

It is a very complex issue here as the White House has just correctly told the nation today.

Reductionist thinking, politically correct thinking, and the like are no substitute for serious analysis.

Already articles are appearing in the US press which raise the same issues I have been raising. There will be a national debate on these matters and I hope it is a very searching one.

We need an all source fusion approach to the analysis, IMO.

Charles I

what about the cold-dead-handers who have strokes at the mention of any regulation

- surely they're the ones in charge now?


Couldn't agree more. For the last 48 hours I've been hearing nothing but "This is too complex an issue for a single solution." What a great way to bury the issue. We've got to start somewhere and "firearm violence" is the proximal cause of the problem.

The other issues, although relevant, are tangential. For example, when we finally get around to examining the shooter's mental health we'll probably discover that he had been classified by his school as an exceptional child in need of specialized education. The question then becomes how well were his identified educational needs met. One can only imagine how broad and wide ranging those needs might have been given his putative diagnosis of autism.

Clifford Kiracofe

"At the vigil in Newtown, Mr. Obama said he would engage Americans—including law-enforcement officials, mental-health professionals, parents and educators—an in an effort to prevent future tragedies.

"Because what choice do we have?" the president said. "We can't accept events like this as routine."

Mr. Carney did not elaborate much on Mr. Obama's next steps but said that gun-control measures would be a component of a broader plan.

"Gun laws are a part of this, but they are not the only part of it," he said."



If you mean by "participate" that the NRA would have a seat on a commission and the ability to block others' recommendations and do some armtwisting and threatening behind the scenes, I am not keen on that at all.

Is that what you are suggesting?

What I think has to happen is that "ownership" of this issue has to be removed from the hands of the NRA as an organization. Their stranglehold on the issue never should have been allowed to happen and must cease. Nobody elected them to be in charge of gun control laws, but that's how things have evolved through the years.

If they are not viewed as relinquishing their control, I won't trust the NRA or want them involved in legislation or commissions. I would think many people share my hostility and distrust. The NRA has been happily bragging about its influence and luxuriating in what it thought was a permanent catbird seat for decades.

Having said that, I don't care what the NRA does as an outside organization that has no special privileges or status in determining the road ahead I would encourage them to present their ideas to the public and express their views as they see fit. They'd be smart to take your advise and seek to contribute something valuable to the discussion.


I could not agree more but the window of opportunity is probably much smaller than most expect. The proposed commission should come up with a legal framework that can only be voted up or down by Congress.


I am quite sure you are right professor kiracofe the problem is multi dimensional and your comprehensive suggested approach is no doubt the most professional way to deal with the matter.

I was attempting to point out that from a purely political point of view, such a wide ranging inquiry will produce numerous opportunities to deflect the political outcome in unhelpful directions.

By way of example, the American automotive industry was able to deflect legislation regarding effective pollution control measures by blaming pollution on crankcase blowby and Congress helpfully legislated for positive crankcase ventilation which were cheap but did very little.

To put that another way, the whole gun violence matter might be easily be derailed into a discussion and research into the effect of SSRI's on adolescent brains, followed by legislation regarding their prescription.

Regarding the Australian inquiry into child abuse by catholic institutions, that church is now trying to portray it as a "national problem" instead of a generally catholic matter despite evidence that abuse is Six times more prevalent in catholic institutions than the general community. The "cosi fan tutti" defense = everybody does it.


Violent video games - no 'kidding' there. Sadly I think our government spends more time and money defending gaming company patent infringements than defending the youthful targets of said games. I was rather shocked by the latest phone ads - it was all about the games - and knocking off your 'opponent'; they sure weren't about phone calls.


All, what is in store for all these poor introverted, shy, sometime ingenious, sometime creative, sometime destructive souls (remember van Gogh's cut off ear?) - when the pressure of the society will be put down on them, to be more like the rest, more 'mainstream'? I do not know and humbly ask for your opinions


Beware the presidential election has shown that those who have most to loose from this sort of initiative no longer count in the democratic process.

A few days ago the fireworks, the extasy of having finally taken control of the country and the certainty of having vanquished the white unpeople for good was all that mattered.

But now it matters also that those politically disenfranchised and discriminated against surrender their only means of self-protection?

Clifford Kiracofe

We both agree that something must be done. As an educator, I am particularly concerned by school violence generally and by these massacre situations in particular. The Virginia Tech event was "too close for comfort" in our area here and now we have another national case.

Polling data this past week shows a shift in public opinion toward the idea that "something" is very wrong in our country with regard to school violence/violence. So the time seems right for the commission our host proposes. We have a lot of government studies already to go from. I agree that the political process can result in less than optimal legislation as the various lobbies on all sides of issues apply pressure. But this should not deter us from trying to do our best and what is right.


Do people that own firearms have any responsibility to keep them secured? Seems a bit irresponsible to give this disturbed boy ready access to these type of weapons. And the gun show and private sale exemption? Is this sound law?

Clifford Kiracofe


Yes. I find it very interesting that the British press is squarely on the violent video issue in this case in Connecticut while there is almost complete silence in the US press.

"It has emerged that Lanza spent his time in the basement of the family’s four-bedroom home in Newtown playing video games, such as Call of Duty and obsessing over guns and military equipment, according to an interview in The Sun with plumber Peter Wlasuk.

Call Of Duty is controversial because of its violent content. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK banned daytime advertising of the game earlier this year....." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9752141/Connecticut-school-massacre-Adam-Lanza-spent-hours-playing-Call-Of-Duty.html

The Telegraph newspaper is a leading British "broadsheet" and it takes a conservative point of view. But other British papers of various kinds have also featured such stories.

According to this report, the deranged boy lived in a windowless bunker in the basement of the family home. This article identifies "Call of Duty" as one of the violent videos he watched. Another violent video has been identified by name.

My view is that the US media for several reasons is all but blacking out the linkages to violent video and other entertainment media such as films and music such as Death Metal music. Pressure from the entertainment industry is an influentiual factor in my view.

Perhaps this time around, we can now as a country face the matter of the death/suicide/violence culture promoted for such profits by the entertainment industry. As we are dealing with a multi-billion dollar industry with traditional links to organized crime, this is not an easy undertaking. The historical record shows, for example, that Hollywood was penetrated by organized crime as early as the 1920s...and Vegas, well...

It is interesting to me that British authorities banned advertising violent video content as the paper reports. I would like to know more about the British approach to this particular issue. Also, I wonder whether European countries are restricting violent video material. The Norwegian mass murderer was found to have literally holed up in his room for a year prior to the crime watching violent video I understand. Not too different from the demonic little Adam Lanza.

Clifford Kiracofe

"LANSING, MI — MLive readers are sounding off on a gun control bill sponsored by a mid-Michigan-based state senator.

State Sen. Mike Green sponsored Senate Bill 59, would allow citizens with concealed weapon permits to carry firearms into previously “pistol free” zones — including schools — after additional training and an exemption provided by a local sheriff.

The state Senate and House of Representatives approved the measure on Thursday, the day before a mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn...."

Will this become more widely discussed and implemented? What are the best technical methods to enhance school security? Should schools hire a full time armed security officer? Should some teachers/staff be armed?

The Connecticut school had just installed a buzz-in front door security system but the attacker defeated this. This system went on at 930am each day. The attacker seemed to know this as he arrived about that time although a bit late and reportedly had to shoot his way in through glass doors which were not bullet proof.

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