President Obama has announced that the topic of focus during his final year as president will be gun control. He has announced some factors that he believes contributes to our high rate of gun deaths. However, the president is continuing the failed rhetoric of previous gun control advocates. Part of which is flat out false, the rest is misleading.
The first thing the president says is that Americans are not more violent than other developed nations, but our citizens simply have more access to firearms. His statement is inherently flawed because the number of firearms and access to these firearms has never been linked to gun violence. As a matter of fact, the number of guns and gun owners in the United States has been increasing consistently over the last four years, while gun violence and almost all violent crime in general has been decreasing in that same time frame. It is important to note here however that correlation does not prove causation. Which is also relevant when I mention Switzerland. The Swiss have the second highest firearm ownership rate per capita in the world. Yet they have the one of the lowest violent crime rates in Europe. The Swiss have easy access to firearms. Almost comparable to the U.S, but with some different regulations. Until a few years ago Swiss firearm ownership was almost universal due to their practice of universal conscription. Again, the Swiss have had a strong gun culture and a high firearm ownership rate for a long time now, yet they still have a much lower crime rate than other European countries.
The second error in his statement is that easy access to guns is “the only variable” that separates the US and other developed nations. First off, the Swiss example disproves his statement outright. Another thing to keep in mind is that many European countries have been relatively homogenous nations. France is French. Germany is German. Britain is British. The US is not. We are made up of all of these nationalities and more. The US is a melting pot of culture and ethnicity. Though today we are closer to harmony than ever before, there has been a legacy of discrimination and oppression in this nation. If you look at the victims of gun violence they tend to be from these formerly oppressed groups. From minorities in the inner city. In the Democratic debate, when Sanders called gun violence an urban issue and not a rural issue he was not wrong. Neither was Hillary Clinton when she said it was a Black issue, not a white issue. Though she said that in an attempt to make Sanders appear racist, or insensitive. It is not entirely false. Of the thirty or so people killed each day in firearm homicides, over half are African Americans. Specifically those in cities like Detroit and Chicago. The real question should be why? Why is twelve percent of the population accounting for over half of the firearm deaths?
Gun control will not change anything. A prominent politician from Australia has come out and said that Australia’s model should not be followed. He said that since guns are now almost impossible to own as a private citizen “We are a nation of victims”. Meanwhile “There’s a very vigorous black market for guns, so it’s not made the slightest bit of difference; if you want a gun, you can get one.” This really hits home in the case of US gun violence. Most of the firearms used in crime are bought illegally or stolen. If we as a nation addressed the societal issues behind gun violence, then we could save lives without taking away constitutional rights.
Maryland has announced the discontinuation of one of its firearm laws. Firearms dealers will no longer be required to submit a spent shell casing to the police after they sell a weapon. The spent casing would be used to create a firearm fingerprinting system to prevent crime. The entire system has been a failure and soon will be gone.
The biggest problem the system faced was the sheer quantity of casings coming in, as well as the flawed software used to document them. Over three hundred thousand casings are sitting in a former bomb shelter in Maryland. Most of them have not been scanned since scanning was discontinued in 2007. It makes you wonder why they would keep collecting these casings if they aren’t recording them. The records stopped being kept once they realized that the software being used to document the shells was completely useless. Sometimes when used it would “spit out hundreds of matches” and leave police clueless. The software was so bad that “The state sued the manufacturer in 2009 for $1.9 million” and eventually settled out of court. The entire system was an attempt to copy the federal database that tracks firearms used in crime. The Maryland system tried to document all firearms in the state. It was doomed from the start and never really provided law enforcement with any useful data.
Besides the faulty software and overload of shell casings, the plan was doomed from the start. The idea that a shell casing from a new gun will act as a fingerprint is completely wrong. Yes, firearms do have a ballistic fingerprint, but it is not static like a human fingerprint. The unique engravings made on a shell casing change after use. Especially after the first few hundred rounds. “Normal wear from shooting would inevitably alter the surfaces leaving markings on the brass to such a degree that the original piece of brass would be useless for comparison” making the entire system flawed from the beginning. Also “Greater wear would inevitably cause an enormous number of false positives” as shown by the hundreds of results from police searches on the current system. New York also implemented a similar program to collect shell casings. They have also cut funding for their version of the program too.
Another serious problem with the law is that it required manufacturers to fire a round off from a new gun before sale. This is like driving a car before selling it. The value instantly decreases once it is used. This “Drove the gun collector’s nuts” and was a complete waste. Combine this with the huge surge in firearm sales once the 2013 ban was instituted and you have thousands of pissed off gun collectors buying more guns before a ban takes place, while the state law requires them to be fired and a shell taken. So the weapons then decrease in value and irritate the purchasers even more. The increase in sales also had the effect of flooding the already crowded registry with more casings that needed to be taken care of.
In the end, the system failed because it showed a clear lack of understanding in terms of firearm crime. Most weapons used in crime were “bought nearly 15 years prior” and acquired illegally. So the logic behind collecting new firearm sale casings from legal purchasers is illogical. Even If the firearms are used fifteen years down the road in crime, the ballistics of the weapon will have changed by then. The two million dollar attempt seems to be very far from paying back what was put in.
The Democratic candidates and NRA are finally addressing the overrepresentation of African Americans in gun violence. However, they are doing so in a highly inappropriate and harmful way. In both cases race is being used to define a prejudice that one candidate or another has, or even a hidden agenda by the president. Neither group is offering a solution to the problem.
During the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders brought up the fact that gun violence is largely an urban issue. He mentioned this to explain his relatively lax position on gun control. Bernie Sanders is from a rural state with a strong gun culture, so taking a strong position on the issue would be tough to do while keeping the support of his constituents. After the debate, Hillary Clinton equated what Sanders said to effectively mean that gun violence is a “Black issue” in an attempt to make Sanders seem racially insensitive. Though she is right in bringing up that many of the victims of urban gun violence are African American, she did so in an attempt to discredit another candidate and did not offer any form of solution to the issue. She reframed what Sanders said from Rural vs. Urban to White vs. Black. Though African Americans are over-represented in firearm homicides it is hardly a black and white issue. I would have hoped that the issue would be framed as law abiding citizens vs. criminals, but in the cut-throat politics of today this is probably all we can expect.
The NRA also took its shot at making this a race issue. In a video released by Wayne LaPierre–the executive vice president of the NRA—he hints “that Obama is somehow conspiring with Chicago gangbangers to make the good, honest Americans living out in farm towns in Nebraska or Oklahoma live in fear”. He makes this argument because “Under the existing federal gun laws, he could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more” but “he won’t do it, his Justice Department won’t do it, and the media never asks why”. Though there are strict Federal Firearm laws in place for the illegal possession of a firearm and many of those caught are not prosecuted, or given light sentences. Claiming that our president is purposefully attempting to create heightened levels of gun violence in order to push through more legislation is absurd. Especially when it is his home city of Chicago that is suffering the most, and the people he is supposed to represent that are dying in unquestionably high numbers. It doesn’t add up.
Gun violence is not a race issue. It is a public health issue that needs to be addressed. The best way to fix a public health issue is to find the roots of its existence. In the case of gun violence poverty, drugs, and a culture of violence are to blame for the high crime rate in urban centers, while affluence, education, and a culture of gun ownership can explain the lower gun crime in rural and suburban areas. Hopefully, the candidates and the NRA will wise up to the fact that pulling the race card won’t solve anything.
Right now there are millions of firearm sale records sitting in a warehouse in Virginia waiting to be processed. Kevin Johnson wrote an article about it in USA Today. He talks about the inefficiency of the ATF’s record keeping system. Records are being sent to the ATF by defunct firearm dealers. These firearm dealers are required to keep records of sales, and when they close down to send these records to the ATF. Then the records are supposed to be put into a National Tracing Center in order to assist law enforcement in tracking criminal usage of firearms.
Even though the records are being sent, they are very difficult to use. The reason for this is that there is no standardization for keeping them. The ATF reports getting stacks of notecards, hard drives, and even notebooks. Due to the lack of any uniform record system, the millions of records must be entered by hand into the National Tracking Center. The high demand on manpower to enter these records has made it impossible to enter them. This is combined with an increase in demand for these records from local law enforcement. There were over 18,000 requests last year. Many of the requests required ATF officials to hand-sort documents in order to get law enforcement the information it needed.
Even if the records could all be entered, the use of the system is highly controlled due to federal law that “Prohibits the creation of searchable a database on firearms’ buyers”. So without a warrant, local law enforcement cannot even use this database that they have created. What is the point then? Why is a database being created that is ineffective and hard to access? It seems like a waste of time in its current state. If legislation was passed that standardized the record keeping process of gun dealers, and gave wider access to the National Tracing Center, then maybe it would be worth it.
Under current Federal law neither is likely to happen. Expanding access would make it a national registry of firearm buyers. That is illegal and should change. The framework is already there for a national registry. If record keeping was standardized then the information from closed stores could be easily kept, and the information from operating stores could be accessed directly form the source. The registry could be responsible for defunct store records, and the rest of the records could be kept buy private businesses like they currently are. The ATF knows which firearms go to which stores, so allowing them to keep track of their own sales, and be able to legally access that information would make for a very transparent way of tracking firearms.
Perhaps one day a measure like this will be passed, but that is unlikely right now due to the partisan nature of the issue. The value of the system is questionable since most guns used in crime are accessed through illegal means, and this would track legal purchases. Either way, it is a measure supported by the vast majority of the public and should be implemented.
A recent CNN poll has shown a huge change in America’s attitude toward gun control. Just three weeks after the mass shooting in Oregon, those who oppose stricter gun control gained six points on a national poll. In his article, Jeremy Diamond explains how public opinion is changing, as well as racial and regional splits between gun control support and opposition.
The usual trend in the US is for mass shootings to prompt a shift in public support for gun control. For example, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting Connecticut, and Maryland passed assault weapons bans. Also, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced an Assault Weapons ban in congress two weeks after the shooting that almost passed. In this case however, pro-gun-rights groups seem to have won out. The poll admits a 3 point margin of error, but with a 6 point gain showing that 52% of Americans oppose stricter gun control it is undeniable that there has been a strange shift in public opinion. Even in the state where the most recent shooting occurred—Oregon—there has been a huge revival of pro-gun activism. Oregon is a very rural state, and as mentioned by Diamond in his article “two-thirds of Americans who live in rural areas oppose tighter gun control laws”. There has even been a refusal by many Oregon county Sheriffs to enforce new gun control issued in the state.
Why the change? Perhaps it has to do with the opinion that many Americans believe there should be a clear majority before new laws are passed. Diamond mentions that “About seven in 10 Americans believe it is important for most Americans to support proposed changes to gun laws before those changes are implemented. And 61% said the same of gun owners. People are less willing to take action without a majority, and according to the poll 61% think that laws should only be passed with the support of the majority of gun owners. There has also been a developing opinion that “it is important for both parties to come to a consensus before making any changes to existing gun laws” which is held by about half of poll takers. The problem with this line of thinking though is that a consensus is almost impossible. About “76% of Republicans oppose stricter gun control compared to just 25% of Democrats” so compromise or agreement on such a partisan issue is highly unlikely. If both parties followed public opinion polls then maybe they could pass legislation that has overwhelming support, but the fact that they have not done so yet makes it unlikely that they will ever do so
Perhaps people are fed up with half-measures and ineffective laws that have been forced through in the past by legislators in the aftermath of mass shootings. There have been countless gun control laws passed that promise to reduce gun crime, but have had little to no effect. Maybe there will be a shift from “Gun Control” to crime control as many Americans still support universal background checks. However, the actions of the Oregon sheriffs seems to put the effectiveness of such laws in question.
With the recent school shootings in Oregon, and Arizona gun control has become a major topic for democratic candidates in this election cycle. The media attention these shootings received, and their proximity to the Democratic debates almost ensured that it would be a topic of discussion. Many Democratic nominees have tried to avoid gun control as a topic of discussion. It makes sense when you consider that thirty two percent of Americans are gun owners, and Bernie Sanders—one of the top nominees—is from a very gun friendly state. Alienating such a large group of people is political suicide.
After the passage of the 1994 Assault weapons ban by Clinton, democrats lost their majority in the following election. After Martin O’Malley passed the assault weapons ban in Maryland, his successor lost the mayoral election to a republican. So it makes sense that many Democrats would be hesitant to take a strong stance on gun control. That is changing however. Hillary Clinton made it clear in the democratic debates that she would seek to toughen restrictions on both gun owners, and manufacturers. Hillary Clinton mentioned that “We have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence” and stand up “…Against the NRA”. Though her statistic is misguided, and includes gun suicides–which account for two thirds of all gun deaths—and does not explain how restrictions on manufacturers would prevent suicide, she is showing a clear willingness to proceed with stricter gun control.
Many Republicans are delighted by this move because they believe that “Democrats are underestimating the power of the pro-gun-rights movement and risk overplaying their hand on the issue”. It is very true that taking a strong stance on a delicate issue can alienate the majority of voters. If Hillary continues to suggest legislation that is too restricting she risks making enemies of the majority of moderate gun owners. The fact of the matter is that “…only about half the public feels an impetus for greater restrictions on gun ownership” and that “People are also split on the effectiveness of stricter gun laws or background checks in stopping convicted criminals from buying guns”. So once again taking a strong stance on such a dividing issue could easily alienate a huge amount of the electorate. If democrats are not careful to frame their arguments for new gun control, then they could easily lose seats in congress, or even the presidency.
Once again a national tragedy is being used to advocate a political agenda. One that would see the ban of the media termed assault weapons, or as Bernie Sanders has suggested all semi-automatic rifles. Even though rifles account for under 3% of the total firearm homicides in this country, they are being targeted. Hillary Clinton mentioned that ninety Americans are killed each day by firearms. Sixty of those deaths are suicides, and their preventability is debatable. Of the remaining thirty, over half killed each day are African American males. That is six percent of the population accounting for half of the nation’s firearm homicides. Why is this not a topic for national debate? Why is gun violence always linked to the availability of guns, and not the poverty, and drug trafficking that is so prevalent in our nations inner cities? Cities that account for a disproportionate amount of firearm deaths per capita. Maybe our politicians should spend more political capital on the societal factors behind gun violence, and less so on the guns themselves.
Chris Van Hollen, a Representative from Maryland has proposed that the Federal Government adopt Maryland’s recently passed laws on handguns. That would entail requiring Licenses for purchase of handguns, fingerprinting, and passing a background check and handgun registration with the state police. For the most part this proposal is decent as it does not target specific firearms, and tries to actually reduce the illegal use of handguns. However, many of these measures will only inconvenience law abiding citizens and may have little to no effect on the national crime rate.
Being from Maryland, and being a firearm owner, I am very familiar with Maryland’s “Assault Weapon Ban of 2013”. Along with pointlessly banning firearm models that are rarely used in crime, the law instituted a strict process for purchasing handguns. First a potential buyer is required to take a HQL (Handgun Qualification Course) in order to receive a license to purchase a handgun. Once they pass the HQL course they are fingerprinted. Next, when they actually want to purchase the handgun they must pass a background check. Some people see a responsible set of policies that are—as Jenifer Pauliukonis called them–“Common sense” measures to prevent gun violence. While I am happy that the legislation is going after handguns, which account for the overwhelming majority of firearm crimes, I do not like how it targets law abiding citizens the way it does. Why should a person legally purchasing a handgun have their fingerprint put in the system like a common criminal? The handgun will already be registered in their name. So why are their fingerprints needed? It just seems like law abiding citizens are being treated as if their decision to buy a firearm makes them more likely to be a criminal. These so called “Common-sense” laws are supposedly responsible for a “40% drop in homicides over 10 years” in Connecticut where a similar handgun licensing law was passed. These findings were cited from a Johns Hopkins university study on gun policy. The Director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research, Daniel Webster, has publicly stated that “Most guns used in violent crimes come from the streets” or in other words they are illegally purchased and owned firearms.
So why make it harder for people to purchase legally? There is no good reason for law abiding citizens to be fingerprinted and put in the criminal data base. That is offensive and serves no purpose but to victimize law abiding purchasers. The good things that the bill can offer is the required HQL course. Similarly to getting a driver’s license, you need an HQL to purchase a handgun in Maryland. Like getting a driver’s license you need to pass a safety course. Promoting safety is always a good thing, and I am all for it. What I do not like about the proposed bill is that it does nothing to prevent Straw purchases–where someone buys a firearm for another person who legally cannot possess one—or the “Street” guns that Mr. Webster cited as being used most often in violent crime. Clear and defined punishments for those who operate outside of the law would be more effective than targeting legal purchases which are less often used in crime. Who is going to use a gun registered in their name to commit a crime? Especially when a fired shell and casing is kept by the state police–at least in Maryland–in order to identify the weapon if used in a crime.
Though I heavily urge the practice of promoting firearm safety, I oppose any attempt to use the licensing feature of this law to limit the right of citizens to purchase firearms. The class should be required, but easily passable. Fingerprinting of law abiding citizens should not happen, and registration should be done with no inconvenience to the purchaser. Background checks did little to stop the recent shooter of two reporters on live television, but if it stops at least one unfit person from getting a firearm and causing harm to themselves or others it is worth it.
On Thursday this past week, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, the founders of the gun control group Americans for Responsible Solutions used the Pope’s visit to further their agenda. They quoted the Pope’s congressional address out of context to get donations for their political action group.
The quote they used was “Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society”. The Pope was referring to the international arms trade. The U.S is one of the largest exporters of arms in the world, and inevitably either due to negligence or chance some of these weapons fall into the wrong hands. A great example is the loss of thousands of Humvees and dozens of tanks and armored cars to ISIS after they routed the Iraqi army. The Pope’s message was targeting these situations. He was trying to address how much suffering these weapons can cause if they fall into the wrong hands. Small arms are the real weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear missiles stay in their silos, and bombs are rarely dropped. It is small arms shipped by Russia, the U.S, Great Britain, and China that allow dictators to come to power. They enable genocide and suffering on a scale rarely seen. He addressed the U.S congress about this issue because 31% of exported arms originate in the U.S. Stopping these weapons from falling into the hands of future mass murderers and dictators was the Pope’s real message.
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly took this quote and tried to apply it to U.S gun lobbying. They in effect compared gun owners, and people purchasing firearms to mass murderers and tyrannical dictators. They are basically calling all gun owners criminals. They assume that people buying a gun are going to “Plan to inflict untold suffering…” which is completely wrong. As a gun owner myself I find this particularly offensive. When I bought my rifle I had no plan to use it to inflict “Suffering on individuals and society”. I bought my rifle so I could participate in a hobby that I love. Just because someone owns a gun does not mean that they have mal intent. Sure some people purchase guns with the intention of defense, but defense does not equate to offense. The Pope’s message does not transfer to the U.S. So why did they use it? Money. That is the basic answer. The founders of ARS tweeted “Heed Pope Francis’s message not by giving to charity, but rather, a super PAC”.
Taking advantage of the Pope’s visit to raise money for their Political Action Committee by taking his words out of context is bad enough. What made what they did terrible was intentionally comparing gun owners to some of the most immoral and violent people in the world. Explain how a man buying a handgun to protect himself–and doing so legally at that—compares to a dictator buying crates of high powered military rifles to suppress his people and kill political dissidents. Hopefully ARS will realize that alienating the firearm community will only add difficulty to any attempt at gun control.
This past weekend Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) decided to abandon his push for new gun control regulations which would make background checks mandatory at gun shows and private sales. The bill had bipartisan support, but has been unable to pass in the legislature.
After two years of fighting, Senator Toomey has given up on his bill. Though background checks appear to be the logical step to reduce gun crime, they have serious flaws. Over two thirds of all firearm deaths in the U.S are suicides. How could a background check prevent that? Even if medical records of suicidal thought are shown in background checks, can you refuse someone their second amendment right on the grounds of suspicion? The American public seems to agree. In a recent CNN poll, 56% of registered voters lack confidence that new gun legislation would keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. 58% of voters doubt new gun laws would keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. Public support for new legislation is falling. In another CNN poll only 51% of people over 50 think it is too easy to get a gun, while only 37% of people under 50 think the same. Americans are beginning to see that gun violence cannot be legislated away.
Besides the lack of public support, background checks are extremely ineffective at keeping firearms from criminals. First, criminals can steal guns. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms 10-15% of firearms used in criminal activity are stolen. Second, criminals practice what is called a “Straw Purchase” in which a person who can legally buy a firearm purchases it for someone who legally cannot. Recently Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) suggested that gun dealers be held criminally responsible for firearms they sell. I suggest instead that purchasers be held responsible for their purchased firearm. If people could be charged for crimes committed with their purchased firearms then perhaps straw purchases would be prevented. If private sales between two people had to be done through an FFL (Federal Firearm License holder) dealer, than background checks would be practically universal anyway. If records of sales were kept by FFL’s than ownership of a firearm could be documented effectively and assist in police investigation. Such reform is unlikely however, and its effectiveness is uncertain, but what is certain is that background checks alone will not make much impact. Vester Lee Flangan, the man who shot two people on live T.V passed his background check.
A big fallacy of gun control is that we try to control the guns because we know we cannot control people. We try to legislate away a problem that is deeper and more complicated than anyone would like to admit. Passing bans on specific types of firearms, or specific cosmetic features on firearms is a solution for the intellectually weak. Instead of addressing the root of the problem they give a false sense of security by targeting firearms that account for less than three percent of all firearm deaths. At least Senator Pat Troony made an attempt to pass real legislation, but the American people have lost faith.
In a recent article titled, Lessons From the Virginia Shooting, Nicholas Kristof argues for increased firearm regulation in the U.S because at the current death rate it is a public health issue. Mr. Kristof makes some very good suggestions for future regulation, but some of his suggestions are contradictory and show a lack of insight into why people own firearms.
Kristof mentions that “We do not need a modern prohibition” because it would “Raise constitutional issues and be impossible politically” while at the same time suggesting that the U.S follow Australia’s lead on gun control. According to Australian statute, a good and substantial reason must be presented in order to own a firearm which in effect banned the possession of one. Quite contradictory when he mentions constitutional issues. Similar legislation to Australia’s has been enacted in the U.S and repealed in the courts. The key difference is that in the U.S owning a gun is a right not a privilege. So trying to compare the U.S to other nations in terms of policy is not easy because limitations on a right are far more difficult to enact than limitations on a privilege. A better suggestion would have been to follow Switzerland’s example. Switzerland has one of the highest percentages of gun owners in the world, with just one-seventh the firearm death rate of the U.S. In Switzerland when purchasing a firearm a permit is required that specifies what you are buying. As long as you pass a background check and are of age you can purchase a firearm in Switzerland. Where their legislation is unique is that ammo is regulated. A gun owner may only purchase ammo for firearms they own. The most unique act is that the government actively supports adolescents to train with rifles. They subsidize ammunition sold on Federal Council licensed ranges, but require that it all be used there. This is a perfect example of good gun legislation because instead of punishing gun owners for shooting, they are encouraging education about firearms while at the same time controlling ammunition obtained outside of ranges. In the U.S it is the opposite, ammunition on ranges is heavily taxed, sometimes up to 50%, while at gun shops it is cheap and easily available.
Also, Kristof’s suggestion that “Smart Guns” be supported shows his lack of understanding for the purpose of owning a firearm. Many gun owners purchase a firearm to protect their home, family, or self. What current “Smart gun” technology does is make that harder to do. The only easily available and inexpensive “Smart gun” tech available is the Magna-Trigger system for specific Smith & Wesson revolvers, and the Magloc designed only for the Colt 1911A1. Both of these systems require that the operator of the firearm be wearing a magnetic ring on his or her finger that will release a lock on the trigger and allow the gun to fire. The problem with this solution is that it requires the magnetic ring to fire. What if a criminal breaks into your home and attacks you. When you aim your firearm ready to defend yourself or family the trigger won’t move. Then you realize you forgot to put your magnetic ring on, and your only means of defense is useless. If this does not sound like an issue than ask yourself why law enforcement is exempt from legislation requiring this type of safety. It is because it is unreliable and not cost effective. Anything a “Smart Gun” can prevent can also be prevented by training, proper storage, and responsible use of the firearm. Perhaps instead of inventing a new technology we should invest in firearm training and handling like the Swiss do.
Common ground needs to be found between the anti-gun and pro-gun factions in government to create responsible, reasonable, and effective gun legislation. The type of misunderstanding that occurs between these two groups inhibits any form of legislation from being passed. If they could sit down and address each other’s concerns then perhaps this country would not be stuck with what Kristof calls “Demented” gun policies.