Great Leap Forward


OK, it is Troll Friday and I’ve still got no Trolls stepping up to the challenge. Indeed, once I challenged them to go beyond their personal attacks, they all just crawled back into their little Troll Holes and curled up into little Troll Balls. No matter. I’m the Troll today.

The public outcry over the most recent massacre at the hands of the gun lobby should be heartening. Unfortunately, the NRA is most likely correct in its belief the whole thing will blow over soon enough. As a recent candidate for Vice President declared, we’re locked and loaded and ready for more game (as she trained bull’s eye targets on Democratic candidates). Indeed, as we know, mass killings are always good for the gun business and for the gun lobby. If you are a gun nut, the answer to every question is always “more guns”. Yes, arm the teachers. Arm the parents. Arm the preschoolers! Get your AK-47 today. Make those schools safe by ensuring Mutually Assured Destruction. MAD. Let’s have bloody gun fights in the O-K(indergarten) Corral.

Even the advocates of gun control are afraid of suggesting anything drastic. Let’s toughen the background checks. Don’t let criminals and especially the criminally insane buy guns. Right. Does anyone read the newspaper? The boy’s mother was the gun nut and was killed with her own apparently legally purchased weapon. Our nation is swimming in them. Force open a window of any randomly chosen house and you’ve got a better than even chance that you’ll find guns. With luck, military-style automatic assault rifles designed to massacre whole villages of Afghans.

Oh, but we cannot do anything about that because our ForeSighted ForeFathers gave us the Constitutional right to own any type of weapon, up through assault rifles and laser-guided missiles and on to nukes.

Actually they were talking about ownership of muskets by well-organized state militias. But no matter. When it comes to guns, the strict interpretation of the Constitution is broad enough to include private ownership of assault rifles with magazines that hold a hundred rounds. Put several in every home.

We must protect the rights of hunters. How could any hunter be expected to stand his ground against a gaggle of geese or a herd of deer without such firepower?

Look, like many Americans I grew up with guns. And there was a period in which I hunted like my idol Daniel Boone. Not that we needed the meat—we raised our own, and truth be told no one likes deer or bear. And the shooting itch can be satisfied by killing clay pigeons. Apparently today most hunters—or at least the most prominent ones in the Republican party—go to special hunting preserves where guides release cage-raised game right under their noses to maximize killing efficiency. The well-heeled hunters still occasionally miss and shoot their hunting companions (Dick! Cheney!)—much to the glee of the game that escape in the ensuing confusion.

Most gun owners don’t hunt anything. The guns are for personal protection. That’s why Adam Lanza’s mom had accumulated lots of them, including the BushMaster her son used to hunt little kids.

Yes, you need at least a hundred rounds of firepower to defend your castle. If you happen to live in Afghanistan. I may have missed some news, but I have not read about many American households being attacked by small armies of well-armed and determined Taliban. (Yes, OK, the World Trade Towers were attacked, but I’m not sure how much good even a very well-armed citizen would have done against on-coming aircraft).

What do you really need to defend your household? Well, a double-barreled shotgun dialed to a wide spread would be a good deterrent. For those who really worry about sustained attacks, maybe two of those per household would do the trick. Make the shotguns big and heavy and obvious and loud. You don’t need to carry them into classrooms. You don’t need to hide them in your pants. You want them at home, handy and visible to deter potential intruders.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Yes, right. Try it this way: Nukes Don’t Kill People, People Kill People. Then why don’t we let Iran have nukes? Because we fear that if they had them, they might be tempted to use them. And those hundreds of millions of guns in American homes? Might they not tempt some use? Even if not criminal or insane? How about just a wee bit ticked off about something?

I’ve been relatively surprised that no one is talking about America’s real gun problem. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, very few Americans had guns. Too expensive. That’s why they were for the militias that needed to defend Americans from rampaging Brits and French.

It wasn’t until after the Civil War that they became common accouterments to many homes. Two reasons. First, the manufacturers who made out like bandits during the war needed to keep the profits flowing. And they had perfected production techniques while producing more efficient killing weapons. Second, and probably more importantly, white folks thought they needed to protect their homes from the (imagined) soon-to-be marauding freed slaves.

Yes, it came down to fear of black Americans. Still does. That is why gun ownership rates are so much higher in the South. It is the unspoken American exceptionalism. It is why we insist on being so well-armed and why we tolerate murder by guns at rates that no nation ever experiences outside civil war. And, truthfully (one could say ironically but that doesn’t put it quite right) blacks were and still are the victims of the American love affair with guns and its tolerance for murder. And, again one could note the irony, black Americans are much more likely to support tighter gun control.

But we won’t go far down that path. The gun lobby will continue to whip up the fear (remember George Bush, Sr’s disgusting racist ads that invoked Willie Horton) in the interest of profits. They need to sell those excess military-style assault rifles to American households. School kids are collateral damage.


kuchintakittyDecember 21st, 2012 at 4:42 am

Is there an equivalent of MADD for gun control? I'm not aware that American mothers have set up such an organisation, and if that is correct, it says a lot about American cultures mores where more popular outrage can be summoned against drunk driving than against gun culture.

carlyleDecember 21st, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Yesterday I counted forty three publications devoted only to guns on the rack at Barnes and Noble. Go count them and see them yourself and ponder over their significance. They tell me not to vilify gun owners but make rules that they can live with.
Someone is buying these magazines but most are probably not NRA members and will support legislation that doe not attack all gun owners.

SchofieldDecember 21st, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Even one of the most highly regulated and disciplined institutions in the United States, the US Army, couldn't effect gun control and prevent one of its own ( probably suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ) from massacring children and adults in two Afghanistan villages so what in the name of reality and not delusion is there that any civilian institution or institutions will be up to the task of effectively administering any new gun-control laws?

john sDecember 21st, 2012 at 5:48 pm

"Actually they were talking about ownership of muskets by well-organized state militias"
Actually the Supreme Court said the opposite.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 21st, 2012 at 10:46 pm

John, yes and you can look back over the past 200 yrs and see that the Supreme Court has had a large number of extremely nutty rulings that they eventually overruled. Including many related to racial segregation.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 21st, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Take a look at the different ways that Australia reacted to its last massacre at the hands of a machine gun, vs the way the USA always reacts. They severely tightened and removed machine guns from the civilian population. And have not had a single massacre since. You doth underestimate possibilities. Can you eliminate murder? No but you can get it down to near to the average that all other developed and rich and mostly peaceful nations enjoy–I think Oz’s is one-fifteenth of ours, more or less. The US does not stand out as particularly criminal (well, except Wall Street) or even violent. We stand out in one way only–murder by gun.
Both domestically and abroad. Both of these problems can be mitigated: bring the troops home and don’t send them abroad for frivilous and conceited purposes in the future, and don’t sell military-style weapons to civilians.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 21st, 2012 at 10:54 pm

You did not read my piece very carefully. I villified the gun lobby. The manufacturers that want to repurpose military style weapons for civilian massacres.

LRWrayDecember 21st, 2012 at 10:55 pm

john s
Submitted on 2012/12/21 at 5:48 pm

"Actually they were talking about ownership of muskets by well-organized state militias"
Actually the Supreme Court said the opposite.

Submitted on 2012/12/21 at 10:46 pm | In reply to john s.

LRWray: John, yes and you can look back over the past 200 yrs and see that the Supreme Court has had a large number of extremely nutty rulings that they eventually overruled. Including many related to racial segregation.

lkofenglishDecember 22nd, 2012 at 2:29 am

So first off we were the "marauding Brit" … we were not "afraid" of them. and of course we had guns in order to deal safely with the native population…which in some cases were exceptionally brutal. i've been reading about the Comanche's…trust me Chief…you'd need more than a gun when those folks came a knockin'. Second you miss the point of "gun as financial tool." now i'm not a gun person…but i sure know those who are…and they own them to make money on them. PERIOD. third: "what about personal responsibility"? Adam Lanza is dead. How? "Killed by his mother's gun." And his mother? Dead. "Killed by her own gun." I understand the rampage "issue"…and believe me i have no problem with an outright ban on assault rifles defined as any rifle capable of firing more than three rounds without reloading. having said that this was a PUBLIC school…and i think the public school was chosen intentionally by our resident "nut job" because "they were expendable." i find this particular case interesting because this was not a poor family, Adam was actually diagnosed with a mental illness and he had been flagged as a security threat. Is there some added layer of protection you wish to add? An armed security guard at the school does come to mind does it not. I mean what was our unarmed School Principal running towards when she heard the shots? Obviously i'm taking your bait…only to provide a counter point. I think making this an issue about something other than the FACTS of the case is GROSSLY premature. I find it odd how little we know about this now "statistical norm" don't you? If I were President I would want the cops on the television 24/7 saying exactly what happened…and what the other folks at public schools need to be on the look out for. Instead we have "wilding with the media time" … with NO questions answered…and only a sinking feeling of "yet again nothing will be accomplished." frankly i'm sick of all the psycho's on BOTH sides…aren't you?

peteDecember 22nd, 2012 at 3:27 am

When a plane down an investigation into the cause of the accident occurs and changes are made to the system to prevent future accidents. While all plane accidents are unique they share characteristics which allow us to make systematic changes.

All murders are unique, but upon detailed investigation I would suspect one could find very similar root causes and change the system to prevent further murders. The "bang" for the buck is not in preventing a few mass killings but in preventing killings and extreme violence in general. Yes find who committed the crime and punish them but also find what in the system created the criminal and change the system. Safer country, fewer police, fewer prisons, maybe more workers.

djmDecember 22nd, 2012 at 6:52 pm

randall,please don't take offence you probably make allot of money and live in a nice neighborhood .I don't ,I live in lake co. ca. the meth,pot growing capital .between the free running pitbulls and dope growers its a dangerous place.I am 54 years old I am not bragging but I am a tuff s.o.b..I have a ccw and in ca.thats not easy.I have had my CCW for 4 years and have not drawn my gun yet .I have been in many sticky situations ,and have talked or fought my way out.however I am not bullet-proof ,and if I am alone I don't care if I die.but if I am with my daughter I need to be able to defend her.when I am home I need more fire power than a pistol,there have been allot of home invasions dope thieves.they are well armed, I don't sell ,grow ,or smoke dope.that does not mean my family is safe takes 15 min. for the law to get to my house . this is why I have a socom 16 semi auto 308.if you don't understand this you must be an over educated condescending elitist 1%er.

CalgacusDecember 22nd, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Wray:"Actually they were talking about ownership of muskets by well-organized state militias"

John S:: Actually the Supreme Court said the opposite.

Umm, no, John S. The Supreme Court has never said the opposite.

The Supreme Court's horrible old anti-Civil Rights decisions like US v. Cruikshank – took the "musket-militia" line. And they were used as legal basis of local gun control, not to oppose it. The Supreme Court has never held that the 2nd Amendment can be "incorporated" by 14th Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights.

LRWrayDecember 23rd, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Maurading Brits–well they set fire to Washington? In any case, note that the NRA predictably did argue that more guns in schools is the answer to the problem–as I did indeed predict!

I'm not against putting a cop in every school ("resource officer"). But as has been widely discussed, adding a gun in the cop's holster does little to increase safety. It takes just about 10 seconds to commit mass murder in a classroom with an assault rifle. Even if the cop is just outside the door, the deed is done.

LRWrayDecember 23rd, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Yes, that's the idea behind "MAD": mutually assured destruction. They are well-armed, so the answer is to arm yourself. I understand your point.

The alternative is to disarm.

Neither is easy. One is more socially beneficial.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 24th, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Yes Calgacus. Good summary of the history here:

Quote: So, the Second Amendment read: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Contrary to some current right-wing fantasies about the Framers wanting to encourage popular uprisings over grievances, the language of the amendment is clearly aimed at maintaining order within the country.

djmDecember 26th, 2012 at 3:00 am

Randall hows this for irony,two days after posting the defense of having my guns, two blocks from my house a unarmed man was shot in the face. to check google kelseyville ca. fairway dr. perp. was not caught.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 26th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Right. Most victims of gun violence are unarmed. But guns don’t kill people, rather, people kill people. If the gun lobby has its way, we can arm everyone so that we can increase the percentage of victims who are murdered while toting assault rifles. Homicides will go up a lot. People will be killing people, but all will be locked and loaded and ready to fire. Surveys show that people vastly over-rate their own competence. Upwards of 90% of all drivers rate themselves as above average. Scientists think this is a genetic trait–a basic human optimism that helps evolution along. No doubt that 90% of gun toters presume they are quicker to the draw than average. Sort of a perversion of the Lake Wobegone phenom? But, a national blood bath would be good business for the gun lobby.

lisaDecember 26th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

PART 1-12/26/12- in response to Randall Wray&hellip ;

"Does anyone read the newspaper? The boy’s mother was the gun nut and was killed with her own apparently legally purchased weapon."

Yes, I have been following the terrible reporting and unethical journalistic trends on the internet. The Newtown incident reporting exhibited some of the absolute worst examples of inaccuracies, and exploitation by the media.

Your comment, that I have quoted, only adds a bit of fuel-to-the fire. I don't think I am trying to take sides in the polarizing debate. I am trying to explore how different comments that actually turn a victim into a "guilty person without any trial", can further polarize reasonable debate on any subject. I don't think that I am only inferring "blame". Isn't the mother, father, and brother being blamed for the shooting? Aren't you blaming the victim for her own death-in not so many words? How were the guns kept in the home? How many were there? What do any of us, including you, really know based on information from the media? Not much, factually.

Leading comments that are based on distorted facts are fundamentally bad. A lot of your writing that is focused on economic issues have been good. This article has a few interesting aspects. Are you really just trying to stir-the-sh– to perhaps increase readership of your blog?

The troll stuff is cute, though….. So, I'll play too.

The underlying issue is really one of "balance of power". The real issue is that the US is not an idealistic- lily-white, everyone's rich- streets -paved with gold, loving-peaceful socially equal democracy. The US is really a polyarchy, but no one really talks or writes much about that fact, publicly.

The Newtown shooting was an incident in a predominantly upper-class, predominantly white community. The shooter was also upper-class, white, and a member of the same community. If, the shooter was an outsider (such as anyone poor, and perhaps, especially any "other demographic class outsider" ), then "the public", actually "the media" could have had more of a "fun time" playing up the tragedy. Distraction to the max!

In the meantime, the trend has been to throw blame on whomever, wherever, about whatever. The mother, brother, and father are the new guilty ones. And so is everyone else who even has the audacity to own any gun, any where.

I don't own a gun, and don't especially like guns. I am a relatively poor citizen in this society. It doesn't take much of a stretch of my imagination to foresee that what is happening in Syria, could very easily happen in the US. I sure do not want US gun laws changed. In the near future, I can see poor US citizens actually could unite enough to actually go to battle against internal enemies to regain questionable, reasonable rights. Wouldn't they then definitely be even further out-classed because of weaponry? Isn’t that exactly (on a simplified level) what’s happening in Syria? A shot-gun, a hand-gun, or no guns, would be absolutely no match for any kind of high-powered automatic weaponry only available to employees of a police state, or large protected corporations, and their localized specific communities. (Yes, I am biased, and, only the future can confirm if justifiably, or reasonably, so.)

lisaDecember 26th, 2012 at 4:53 pm


Do schools in wealthy areas need to be locked, with a security guard? Then lock the school doors and hire a security guard. Many schools in poor neighborhoods already function on a daily basis within that kind of protected environment. Or perhaps, new schools could be built only within the already gated wealthy communities? Is that what is happening now across the US? Perhaps the new Newtown school could be built within a specific gated community with only access by the immediately responsible taxpayers? How many school boards in poor communities can even contemplate building a new school because of deaths of a statistically minor number of students, although there may be only minor destruction to the actual building? Who pays really if a new school is built in Newtown, because of psychological trauma? What about the psychological trauma that many other students, in poorly funded school districts, have to cope with every day because of tax revenue allocations?

Isn't the real issue the same issue as it always has been? Isn't the real issue that the wealthy needs and wants to be protected from the masses, predominantly poor citizens? Does the form of government, or any government, really matter?

Are the elite starting to experience their own inner-circle skirmishes amongst themselves? Perhaps, someday, the elite will recognize that what they need and want needs to be shared amongst more citizens. Perhaps, the few will start to recognize certain facts about basic facts to establish more balance to power. Perhaps psychological trauma is not just a luxury afforded to the few, and wealthy. Perhaps the many need to be viewed with more tolerance by the few. If not, then why shouldn't the many have access to the same military power rightfully or legally owned by the few?

If the US is not to exist as a police state, then perhaps we all may have to recognize that collateral damage can happen to any one of us, by any other citizen. Perhaps tolerance needs to be practiced, encouraged, and understood, rather than enforced. When only a non-emotional position is taken, isn't the death of a few citizens, only collateral damage, in view of the greater good? Should emotional, sentimental, reactive behavior be enflamed by the media when reporting deaths, by whatever cause?

I would hate to live in a society ruled by anarchy and open warfare. However, isn't that what the US has been supporting? So long as it is not happening on our turf, we live in the illusion, that the world is living in peace. We view the "screen, any kind of screen", within our varying degrees of comfort zones. I'm just as guilty as anyone else. When the comfort zones blatantly affect the wealthy, then the "risks" of tolerance are apparent. Then, isn't it easy to slap more controls on the many, by deluding the many, that the controls are for everyone? Isn't it very easy to enflame the masses with propaganda by the media? Wasn't Hitler's propaganda approach an excellent example at how easy the media can sway the masses? Hearst may have had a money making model years ago. Is his model the only profit model for writers anywhere, and everywhere?

Well, enough of my adding my two cents to polarizing opinions, and trolling…..

robertmc1December 26th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Let's start with this- I'm not anti-gun, I have a CCW but rarely carry.

That said, whatever we are doing is not working. That's reality. I have no solutions but I think our country is ready to start trying alternatives (if only MMT was at that point…wow). I seem to remember in Bowling for Columbine that Canada has more guns per capita and much, much less crime.

I suspect most of the problems are rooted in our violent culture. Video games, gun shows, TV vigilante glorification, most rap music, a loss of community us-vs-them mentality, etc ad infinitum. Why is it that our culture churns out so many nutjobs? I don't know, like I said I don't have the answers but it is time for a change.

I suggest the proper response would be to increase the funding for mental health issues to get these nuts into some sort of therapy and limiting magazine capacity, both of which will likely only reduce this sort of behavior slightly. Nothing will be truly effective until our national mindset changes it's fascination with violence as a solution.

L. Randall Wray L. Randall WrayDecember 27th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Right on cue, Robert Parry has another good answer:

Quotes: A number of Americans – on the Right and Left – embrace fantasies about fighting some glorious revolution in the future, requiring them to maintain arsenals of weapons today, even if the cost of their violent illusions is the brutal murder of children at school, at play or in the home…..
while those who embrace these revolutionary fantasies may consider the price of the 20 dead kids in Newtown or the thousands of others who die each year “worth it,” the question now is whether most Americans will continue to acquiesce to that judgment.

AetherJanuary 3rd, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Prof. Wray,

I haven't closely followed your writings of late, so I'm not sure I fully understand your position on guns. That said, some of your statements and conclusions about guns in the above post just don't square with the facts:

Everyone "knows" that more gun control will make us safer. It's so freakin obvious that nobody can question it. Common "knowledge"! Facts are funny things.