2012's Mass Shootings And Some "Gun Control" Observations

Tyler Durden's picture

With the resurgence of gun control politics storming to stage center over the past 72 hours, and providing yet another fulcrum point of social division precisely at the time when the nation is already hopelessly divided on other key political talking points which look set to push the Fiscal Cliff debate unresolved into 2013, below we provide two useful benchmarks to frame the "gun debate." The first, courtesy of WaPo, is an interactive chart of all mass shootings, including all the relevant details, taking place in 2012. The second, is a dispassionate and fact-based observation courtesy of BusinessWeek of the realities and challenges facing politicians, and the broader society, as America grapples with 200+ years of Second amendment history on one hand, and a society that is ever more "troubled", and increasingly prone to violence and murder on the other.

First, click on the chart below for a jump to the WaPo's succinct and interactive chart showing all 2012 mass murders.

Second, we recommend everyone read the following narrative from BusinessWeek's Paul Barrett, titled "A Post-Newtown Guide to the Gun Control Policy Debate", in which without any attempt to score political brownie points (a rare occurrence these days), the author "reviews some of the proposals that politicians and others will talk about in coming weeks."

From BusinessWeek:

Demonization A couple of weeks before Newtown, our premier sports broadcaster used his Sunday Night Football halftime soapbox to issue a heartfelt appeal for reducing the prevalence of handguns. Responding to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, Bob Costas said, said: “Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.” Similar pained cries have echoed in the wake of the Connecticut disaster —for example, this column by the New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik, entitled, “Newtown and the Madness of Guns.”

The emotionalism is understandable. Yet railing against guns in general gets us nowhere. What are Costas and Gopnik suggesting? Confiscating some, most, or all of the 300 million firearms already in private hands? The Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, says that’s not happening. Our democratically grounded political system says that’s not happening. The United States, for better or worse, is a gun culture. Nearly half of American households have one or more guns, according to Gallup. Publicly mourning the degree to which firearms are woven into the fabric of our society only plays into the hands of those who contend that any discussion about regulating guns is a pretext for prohibition. The hard truth for gun foes is that the firearms are out there, and they’re not going away.

Assault weapons President Barack Obama supports a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, according to White House aides. After asserting this position during his 2008 campaign, Obama dropped it, fearing a politically costly fight with the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress. The Newtown shooting revives the issue because the killer used an assault weapon—more precisely, a semiautomatic military-style rifle—to kill most, and possibly all, his victims, according to the Connecticut medical examiner.

We tried an assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004. It didn’t work. To avoid the restrictions of a poorly written law, gun manufacturers simply made cosmetic design changes and then enjoyed a sales boom. American gun enthusiasts reliably buy more of any make or model opponents want to deny them. Moreover, while black matte military-style rifles may look especially ominous to the uninitiated, they’re not more lethal, shot-for-shot, than grandpa’s wooden-stock deer hunting rifle (which is derived from an earlier generation of military weapons). Fully automatic machine guns—capable of firing a stream of bullets as long as the trigger is depressed—are already unavailable, unless you have a special permit. And finally, any proposal to ban the manufacture and sale of new assault weapons would do nothing about the many millions lawfully owned by private citizens. Democrats are not going to propose impounding rifles already in private gun racks.

Large-capacity magazines The coming proposals to limit the size of magazines, the spring-loaded boxes that contain ammunition, are more relevant, if no less controversial, than assault weapons “bans.” In a mass killing, the lethality of a semiautomatic rifle (or pistol) relates to how quickly and often the shooter can fire before reloading. Law enforcement officials said Sunday that the Newtown shooter used multiple 30-round magazines with his rifle, firing something on the order of 100 rounds in a very short period.

It’s not difficult to buy a 50-round “drum” magazine. Banning civilians from owning such magazines, it seems to me, would not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. Perhaps the same could be said for 30-round magazines, or 20-round magazines. Choosing the cap is necessarily arbitrary. The assault weapons ban of 1994-2004 prohibited the manufacture and sale of new magazines exceeding 10 rounds. In theory, we could reinstitute that rule.

The problem with restricting magazine capacity is that to make such a limitation meaningful, Congress would have to ban the possession of large magazines, not just the sale of new ones. Otherwise, the millions of big magazines already on the market will provide an ample supply to future mass killers. As a matter of political and law enforcement reality, are lawmakers prepared to send sheriffs and police out to take away all privately owned magazines exceeding 10 rounds? In the 1990s, the answer was no. Has that changed? I doubt it.

Background checks Here is where there’s room for achievable, meaningful improvement. The existing computerized background-check system screens out felons, minors, and other prohibited categories. The system has gaps, however. It covers only sales by federally licensed firearm dealers. “Private collectors” are allowed to sell guns without background checks. By some estimates, 40 percent of all sales slip through this gaping loophole. It ought to be closed. Nonlicensed sellers could be required to conduct their transactions via a licensed dealer, who would receive a small fee.

Improving the background-check system would make it more difficult for some significant number of shady characters to obtain guns. (They could still acquire them illegally, of course.) The Newtown shooter tried to buy a rifle at a local store shortly before his rampage and was turned away when he wouldn’t submit to a background check.

However, an improved background-check system would not have stopped the Newtown killer from doing what he did: scooping up his mother’s legally acquired guns before shooting her and all those teachers and children. Mass killers tend to be young men who, despite deranged minds and evil hearts, prepare carefully. Some have clean records before going berserk. Others obtain their weaponry from relatives or friends. Fixing background checks is worth doing. It won’t stop the next Newtown.

Mental illness Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Congress and executive branch agencies at the federal and state level can do more to make sure that disparate and often disorganized records of individuals who’ve been found to have serious mental health problems find their way into the background-check system. The law already prohibits people who’ve been adjudicated mentally ill from buying firearms. We need to do a better job of collecting and disseminating the relevant information.

Many who are dangerously mentally ill escape treatment that would prevent them from harming themselves and others. Short of mass murder, hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people commit crimes and end up in prison without adequate antipsychotic medication. It’s too difficult for relatives, friends, teachers, and others to civilly commit dangerously mentally ill individuals before they do harm.

Taking steps well short of incarceration—our current de facto policy for warehousing the dangerously mentally ill—would be a humane alternative for all concerned, and it could prevent school shootings. This is not gun control, per se, yet it deserves urgent attention.

Personal responsibility People who own guns need to keep them away from children and psychologically troubled members of their households. With the right to own firearms comes great responsibility. We don’t yet know all the details about the Newtown killer and his deceased mother. Yet it’s hard to imagine what she was thinking: a disturbed, antisocial, 20-year-old son and a half-dozen guns?

The most important gun control can’t be legislated. It’s common sense.

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MsCreant's picture


Karl Denninger correlates the shootings to giving young people drugs. A stretch but a definite possibility.

dobermangang's picture


Denninger had 3 good posts on the Newtown shootings.  All are worth reading.


A solutions post...


And the final one the previous poster posted:


Ruffcut's picture

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Denigger is so full of himself, being a 1+ percenter.

Go waste you time on those who think they can fix with a pot of ponzi gotten money, soon to evaporate.

I'd rather play with my dog's shit that read the market divel.

In time, maybe you will figure it out, but I doubt it.

trav777's picture

by one percenter you mean a lying douche, because he's not a 1% wealth.  He's a liar and a blowhard.

Mercury's picture

Oh yeah? how many mass-murderers since Columbine haven't been on psyco-active, prescription drugs?

Clark Bent's picture

I don't expect to hear this detail, though I would not hesitate to bet you are absolutely right. The Statist media is already spinning the narrative that the mother was a "prepper." Disregarding that she was in fact the first, and perhaps the elemental, victim; the MSM wants us to understand that the old-fashioned liberty-obsessed American way of thinking is the cause of mass murder. Momma was too rigid in her fears of economic collapse and junior, who possesses no moral or mental agency for the purposes of THIS narrative, was perverted by mom's Romney-like thinking. The big O is choked up, and wants to ride to the rescue, so he shows up and consoles the inconsolable with a little celebrity fix-up (and probably signs an autograph or two). For what a person who has just lost his child to murder needs is that political asshole farting around faking shared pathos, then back to the target list and covering up Benghazi while entertaining race-baiters like his own good reverends. I am getting roundly sick of everything being a cynical self-serving lie. 

francis_sawyer's picture

Well ~ first we need to see if the '2nd shooter' was on drugs or not...




& in the words of [quote] "SPRICTURE" (Here's Obama doing his best John Boner imitation)


gbresnahan's picture

If gun control worked, Chicago would be one of the safest cities in the US.

Flakmeister's picture

Not to dispute your observation, but you should look up the concepts of "closed" and "open systems"....

gbresnahan's picture

I understand your point, but a number of drugs/substances are completely illegal/banned yet still find their way into the country, so I am led to believe that guns would find a way in too.

dwdollar's picture

Humanity is an open system you fucking moron. You can't erase the idea of "gun" from every person in the world. If you ban their legal sale, people will manufacture them illegally. Then the only people with guns will be criminals. What genius our universities produce these days...

Flakmeister's picture

You are taking yourself far too seriously....

And the only JoTSC that would buy your twisted flawed argument would likely be Thomas...

At least use a good argument, there are better ones that are not strawmen....

dwdollar's picture

You have no serious counter argument. Mainly you're just full of academic definitions which you don't understand or barely comprehend. Don't take it too hard though. It's only some of your fault. Such is the state of the "higher" education system.

Flakmeister's picture

You are so fucking thick that you don't even realize when someone is trying to help you....

Don;t flatter yourself, I don;t give a flying fuck about your guns...

dwdollar's picture

So I take it you're not serious and hiding behind your "irony" today?

Flakmeister's picture

I howl about the twisted flawed logic that is flying fast and furious since the shooting trying to justify gun ownership...

If the asshats here had to argue any gun related case before the SCOTUS they would lose...

And I *really* don't care about yours or anybody elses guns, I have my own to worry about....

Clark Bent's picture

Reason and moral argument usually does lose before SCOTUS. Who your friends are and your prejudices are the ticket to winning there. If you don't know this already, check out the majority's Obamacare decision last June. As Roberts would have it, we are a raw democracy and it's winner take all no matter the process. Nice precedent that, mob rule. 

Flakmeister's picture

And re-reading the thread leads me to believe that you have zero reading comprehension....

dwdollar's picture

Finally take your meds and ready for a sane conversation?

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Humanity is an open system you fucking moron. 

That should be our new anthem!!

Ruffcut's picture

Can't blame guns in chi town alone. Rahm (the asshole supreme) emanual is mayor there.

Mercury's picture

My (our) dear Marla sets the record straight on Switzerland which has been dragged through the mud these few days past: http://finemrespice.com/node/120


e_goldstein's picture

If that's Marla Singer from the early days of ZH, do you know if there is a place where we can find her spinning?

seek's picture

It is Marla Singer from the early days, I confirmed it as well as I could back in July or so. I wasn't able to find any evidence of her DJing online still, sadly.

e_goldstein's picture

Thanks for the info, seek.

Floodmaster's picture

Swiss have shooting range in every village, it's almost their national sport and they only own long-range precision rifle. You will not found one Psycho Gun Nut in Switzerland.

Canucklehead's picture

Get serious.  I buy p6's and Sig P220's for enjoyment.

Urban Redneck's picture

I wouldn't call the sturmgewehr 90 a long-range rifle.  The 5.6mm cartridge is an improvement on the NATO 5.56mm, but it is still a varmit round.  However, qualification is at 300m (std. distance at Swiss rifle ranges) and many of the ranges here have "difficult" wind conditions, so shooters are precise with they rifles they possess.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

I wasn't around for Marla, however that was a very nicely argued / researched piece - it didn't address why you can't compare EU countries with American ones [be it N, C, S], but was getting there.


Is that her permanent blog, or merely a guest spot? [Bookmarked if permanent]

loftgroovv's picture

Bill Hicks - "the right to bear arms is almost as stupid as the right to arm bears".


Since this tragic shooting there has reportedly been a massive rise in gun sales. A clamour to invest further in the very thing causing the problem.


"But but but....its part of the constituuuuution!"


Sadly, there aren't enough Americans like Hicks and I fear most will never learn

john39's picture

remind me, how did it work out for the Russians after the civilians got disarmed following the communist take over?  oh yeah, that could never happen here...

Flakmeister's picture

You are on a roll....

Don't stop now...

Ruffcut's picture

Hey zhole this zero hedge, not zero brain.

You are lost so get back there and get lost.

Flakmeister's picture

I have been here for nigh on three years and have chewed up and spat out the likes of you so many times I have lost count...

Why don't you run along, find a quiet little corner and go fist yourself...

sessinpo's picture

I concur. Don't stop Flakmeister, you are on your perpetual roll with down arrows.

john39's picture

he has done an excellent job, exposing himself.

Canucklehead's picture

You value the up arrows over the down arrows?

Do you go to bed at night thinking today was a good day because... He liked me, he really liked me...

psychobilly's picture

The Flakmeister troll likes the down arrows.  Better negative attention than no attention.  Which is why he's here... again... spamming another thread with shit posts... misbehaving to try and get mommy's attention.

Flakmeister's picture

Sorry if I interrupted your circle jerk...

loftgroovv's picture

Oh dear. John.. there are no "commies" pushing for gun control because they are hell bent on taking over America.

Strike 1 to the NRA for their successful paranoia campaign.


The only commies that will take over the USA will be the Chinese, and in fairness, they have friggin well earned it. You bought their garbage... now you owe *shrug*. You could always make lots of cheap Chairman Mao memorablia and sell it back to them for a few decades?

Then in the year 2050 when they become fat, lazy, ignorant, paranoid and unproductive enough... some other country can strike while the iron is hot!

harami's picture

You should try reading about the issues in China and realize they're not going to be taking over anything for an extended period of time.  Their government might carry a big stick but it's for beating down millions of 'Chinese' that want to escape from the tyranny of their government.  Google nail houses and start there.

Their societal and economic issues are as wide and deep as they are in America, it just doesn't make for good news while rattling our sabres against the evil commies.

And you're right, there are no commies trying to take over America, they're fascists, and from your posts I'm guessing you're a Eurozone pussy that thinks all the socialistic reforms taking place on that side of the pond are for your own good.  Must not have taken a trip to the PIIGS recently to see your handiwork.

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Shake N Bake!!

That just happened!!

dobermangang's picture

It didn't work out too well for the starving people of Russia.  It sucks when you can't fight back after your guns are confiscated. 


Cistercian's picture

The Holodomor.

  Odd, I learned nothing of it in public school.

PeteJE's picture

Dumbass; yes, we will take away your guns and rights and be very happy and staisfied to do it.  Asshole.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

check this out, http://youtu.be/08U5w_89EeM , clearing stores right out of guns before various mags & models are banned

Mercury's picture

Bill Hicks - "the right to bear arms is almost as stupid as the right to arm bears".


With apologies to Al Sharpton et al, just because it rhymes doesn't mean it's true.