Nel's New Day

August 23, 2013

Stop Guns in Starbucks; Responses to Gun Comments

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:32 PM

Last week, a responder asked some provocative questions about a column on gun control; below are my answers to his questions.

The Comment asked which states have more deaths from guns than car accidents. According to the Violence Policy Center, gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 12 states and the District of Columbia during the year 2010. Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. This is an increase from 10 states during the previous year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 14 states, adding Missouri and Ohio to those in the VPC report. Because the NRA has stopped an accurate count of gun deaths, there may actually be more states in which these are higher than deaths from car accidents.

12 states

As the VPC report pointed out, firearms are the only “consumer product manufactured in the United States that is not subject to federal health and safety regulation.”  As Dr. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, notes in his 2004 book Private Guns, Public Health:

“[T]he time Americans spend using their cars is orders of magnitudes greater than the time spent using their guns. It is probable that per hour of exposure, guns are far more dangerous. Moreover, we have lots of safety regulations concerning the manufacture of motor vehicles; there are virtually no safety regulations for domestic firearms manufacture.”

The “Comment” also claims that the NRA believes in protections balanced against rights.” During the past decades the NRA has successfully fought sensible gun laws through lobbying and pressure on legislators with the following extreme results:

  • The ATF can inspect firearms dealers only once a year, allowing them to break policies and laws for 11 months and 30 days after an inspection.
  • Gun dealers are not required to check their inventory. In the 20 percent of gun stores audited, about 20,000 guns disappear each year. The ATF cannot require the other 80 percent of gun dealers to check their own inventories and report back.
  • Record-keeping penalties have been reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. If an audited gun dealer is missing 1,200 guns, for example, the dealer cannot be charged with a federal offense.
  • The ATF is prevented from computerizing purchase records for firearms, forcing them to find guns used in criminal acts by looking through boxes of records or microfiche. (Younger people may not even know what microfiche is!) This restriction wastes resources and makes crime gun tracing harder and slower. In the day of computerization, this is the process that the NRA forces the ATF to follow in tracing a gun: contact the manufacturer to identify the distributor who should have a record for the dealer; if one of these three sources is out of business, a typical situation, ATF sifts through 445 million snapshot images of sales records.
  • The ATF cannot publicly release data regarding dealers selling guns related to crimes. Before that 2003 law went into effect, the agency found that Badger Guns & Ammo (West Milwaukee, WI) sold more firearms used in crimes than any other U.S. dealer. When notified of this, the store promised to change sales practices, and the number of its guns decreased. After the 2003 law, the number of Badger guns linked to crimes again increased.
  • The ATF cannot require gun dealers in the southern four border states to report the sale of multiple rifles or shotguns to a single individual.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had its research funding frozen after it released a study showing the keeping guns in the home increased the risk of homicide. Research restrictions were extended to the U.S. Health and Human Services after a study showed that a person carrying a gun was four-and-a-half times more likely to be shot than an unarmed person. [If the NRA really believed that carrying a gun makes a person safer, they would welcome research instead of blocking it.]
  • The government is forced to prove that a gun dealer was “willful” if they sell a firearm to a prohibited person, such as a felon. Corrupt dealers can avoid prosecution by claiming that their violations were mistakes and not intentional because the extremely high bar for action makes it almost impossible for the ATF to have a case.
  • Law enforcement is hampered in identifying and investigating illegal firearm trafficking operations because of restrictions on how they can use trace data from the ATF.
  • The FBI is forced to destroy background check documents on the same that they they are filed.
  • The FBI is also limited on the sharing of data from traces.
  • Congress severely underfunds the ATF, keeping the same number of agents as 10 years ago, and blocked anyone from directing the agency for over six years.
  • People on the terrorist list who cannot fly on airplanes are permitted to buy guns.
  • People can purchase guns from people other than gun dealers without any background check.
  • Any laws passed to protect people from gun buyers have few or no penalties including the federal law that all states enter the names of felons, perpetrators of domestic violence, and the mentally ill into the federal database for background checks.
  • The mentally ill regain the right to buy guns easily in many states that also fail to keep track of these people.

No “protections balanced against rights” exists. Between 70 and 90 percent of NRA members want bans on high-capacity ammunition clips and semi-automatic assault weapons, prevention of people with mental illnesses from acquiring guns, and universal background checks. Yet the NRA leadership stops just these common-sense regulations every way that they can.

Basically, the NRA blocks any record-keeping that would trace guns to criminals, keep criminals from purchasing firearms, develop an awareness of reasons behind gun deaths, or attempt a way to solve the number of deaths from our country’s gun culture. It raised the bar for prosecution while lowering the penalties for breaking the law. There is no balance in the world of NRA, only power and money—the more the better.

Another Comment read asked for “even one example of someone using a .50 caliber rifle in a crime.”  People have stolen them, possessed them in attempted murders, and murdered people with them. In the last few months, Adam Wickizer killed his ex-wife’s boyfriend with a .50 caliber rifle, and the police chief of Nuevo Leon (NM) was killed by a sniper. Search warrants have found .50 caliber rifles in the homes of drug growers and manufacturers. Ed Brown threatened U.S. marshals who had an arrest warrant for him. These are only a few crimes connected with this specific weapon. People may claim that only criminals will have these guns illegally, yet all guns were originally purchased in a legal fashion before they ended up on the streets.

“I really don’t see much evidence of [tragic mistakes with cars, boats, swimming pools minimized by regulations]. People who drink to near passing out seem to be able to get, and often keep, a license until they kill someone,” wrote one reader. People who operate on not seeing “much evidence” in their personal lives may benefit from researching the subject.

As Amitai Etzioni wrote in a special for CNN over a year ago:

“The United States has more gun-related deaths than any other industrialized country. The rate of gun-related deaths in the United States is more than double that of the next-highest industrialized country and eight times more than the average of its economic peers, according to data from the University of Pennsylvania’s Firearms and Injury Center.

“The U.S. firearms mortality rate is more than 70 times higher than industrialized Asian countries, like Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. An average of 32,300 Americans died each year from gun-related injuries between 1980 and 2006. Among the many victims are children whose parents own guns to protect themselves against intruders.

“As someone who has experience using guns, I suggest that most homemakers are more likely to be killed in a gunbattle with an intruder than to kill him. It is ridiculous to argue that criminals kill people, not guns. Nor could Seung-Hui Cho have killed 32 people and injured 18 others at Virginia Tech with a knife instead of handguns.”

For these reasons and many others, I applaud tomorrow’s “Skip It on Saturday” from Moms Demand Action, asking that people not get their coffee at Starbucks, a popular gathering place for gun enthusiasts who take their firearms to protect them while buying their beverages for that one day. Corporate headquarters at Starbucks prohibits guns and does not allow its employees to carry firearms. This mandate shows that the company recognizes the danger of “packing”; the company needs to also create a place of safety for its customers as well. Moms Demand Action also provides a petition to stop Starbucks from allowing guns in his businesses.

I appreciate the comments that people make, giving me the chance to add more background to my columns.


  1. let’s be honest about our facts and figures and report data that is relevant to gun control when talking gun control.


    Comment by Criminal lawyer in Philadelphia — December 26, 2013 @ 12:23 AM | Reply

  2. What VPC doesn’t mention about its “gun death” stats are that roughly over 60% of them are suicides. Also Homicides today are half what they were in 1992.

    The rate of homicides today is about 4.7 per 100,000.

    Quoting from:

    Gun Control 2013: Suicide Stats Are Irrelevant to Gun Control Policy

    The CDC’s Non-Vital Statistics Report from, 2009 (Tables 10 and 18) reported 31,347 total firearm deaths in 2009, but of those, 18,735 were suicide by firearm deaths. There were 554 deaths from “accidental discharge of firearms.” The CDC statistics are very similar for 2010, showing “Intentional self-harm (suicide) by discharge of firearms” resulting in 19,392 deaths out of a total of 38,364 suicide deaths (table 10, p.23). Technically, this is an increase of 657 suicide deaths from 2009 to 2010. Homicides are another story. FBI statics reported in the Uniform Crime Reports show firearm homicide deaths average about 8-9,000 per year. Homicides have come down a little since 2000, but have been cut in half since 1992. This includes both the raw number of homicides (24,526 in 1993 to 12,664 in 2011) and the rate per 100,000 people (9.5 per 100,000 to 4.7 per 100,000).

    Suicide is a big problem by itself — the tenth-largest cause of death in the U.S. on the CDC list. However, let’s be honest about our facts and figures and report data that is relevant to gun control when talking gun control. Likewise, let’s be honest by using words that don’t imply violence done to others.

    What do so-called “high capacity” magazines, gun show regulations, machine guns, and military-style weapons have to do with suicide, which represents two-thirds of gun deaths? What effect would banning .50-caliber rifles have on reducing the two-thirds of gun deaths that are suicides? What effect would closing the so-called “gun-show loophole” have on reducing suicides?

    None. Nothing. No effect.

    Suggesting or implying that 30,000 gun deaths might be addressed by such proposed bills and amendment is tantamount to lying. It is disingenuous to talk about a horrific crime incident and conflate data by counting deaths that have nothing to do with with the horrific crime. Relying on suicide stats to make a case against “gun violence” as characterized by mass shootings like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Aurora, and street homicides, is completely bogus.


    Comment by lwk2431 — August 24, 2013 @ 4:49 AM | Reply

  3. Great research. Thank you.


    Comment by Lee Lynch — August 24, 2013 @ 12:11 AM | Reply

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