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Monday, February 18, 2019

WASHINGTON — Advocates of a saner approach to guns need a new strategy. We cannot go on like this, wringing our hands in frustration after every tragedy involving firearms. We said “Enough” after Sandy Hook. We thought the moment for action had come. Yet nothing happened. We are saying “Enough” after Charleston. But this time, we don’t even expect anything to happen.

What’s needed is a long-term national effort to change popular attitudes toward handgun ownership. And we need to insist on protecting the rights of Americans who do not want to be anywhere near guns.

None of this should mean letting Congress off the hook or giving up on what might be done now. So kudos to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) for saying on Tuesday that they are looking for ways to bring back their proposal that would require background checks for gun sales. In 2013, it failed to get the needed 60 votes and won support from only three Republicans besides Toomey.

Lest anyone doubt that gun-control measures can work, a study released earlier this month by the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University found that a 1995 Connecticut law requiring a permit or license contingent on passing a background check was associated with a 40 percent drop in gun homicides.

But as long as gun control is a cause linked to ideology and party — and as long as the National Rifle Association and its allies claim a monopoly on individual rights arguments — reasonable steps of this sort will be ground to death by the Washington Obstruction Machine.

That’s why the nation needs a public-service offensive on behalf of the health and safety of us all. It could build on the Sandy Hook Promise and other civic endeavors. If you doubt it could succeed, consider how quickly opinion changed on the Confederate flag.

My friend Guy Molyneux, a progressive pollster, laid out how it could happen. “We need to build a social movement devoted to the simple proposition that owning handguns makes us less safe, not more,” he told me. “The evidence is overwhelming that having a gun in your home increases the risks of suicide, domestic violence, and fatal accidents, and yet the number one reason given for gun purchases is ‘personal safety.’ We need a public health campaign on the dangers of gun ownership, similar to the successful efforts against smoking and drunk driving.”

The facts were on the side of those who battled the tobacco companies, and they are just as compelling here. When we talk about guns, we don’t focus enough on the reality, reported in the 2015 Annual Review of Public Health, that nearly two-thirds of the deaths from firearms violence are suicides. Yes, people can try to kill themselves with pills, but there’s no coming back from a gunshot to the head. Those in the throes of depression who have a gun nearby are more likely to act on their darkest impulses.

Nor do we talk enough about accidental deaths when children get their hands on guns, or what happens when a domestic argument escalates and a firearm is readily available. The message is plain and simple: Households that voluntarily say no to guns are safer.

“The best way to disarm the NRA rhetorically is to make the Second Amendment issue moot,” Molyneux said. “This is not about the government saying you cannot own a handgun. This is about society saying you should not have a gun, especially in a home with children.”

Molyneux says his approach “does not imply giving up on gun control legislation.” On the contrary, the best path to better laws is to foster a revolution in popular attitudes. And this approach would finally put the rights of non-gun owners at the center of the discussion.

“Those of us who want to live, shop, go to school, and worship in gun-free spaces also have rights,” Molyneux says. “In what way is ‘freedom’ advanced by telling the owner of a bar or restaurant they cannot ban handguns in their own place of business, as many states now do? Today, it is the NRA that is the enemy of freedom, by seeking to impose its values on everyone else.”

The nation could ring out with the new slogans of liberty: “Not in my house.” “Not in our school.” “Not in my bar.” “Not in our church.” We’d be defending one of our most sacred rights: The right not to bear arms.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne. 

Photo: Lars Plougmann via Flickr

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75 responses to “The Right To Be Free From Guns”

  1. stcroixcarp says:

    I am one (maybe the only one) of those people who don’t want to be any where near guns. I don’t own any, and I don’t want guns brought on to my property. I don’t want guns in schools, churches, stores, government buildings, public parks or anywhere that I am. I am fine with you owning and keeping guns, as long as you keep them away from me.

    • FireBaron says:

      That is your choice. I am a gun owner, and personally believe these open carry states are setting themselves up for a major fall. The only times my guns are in my hands in public are when I am loading them into the car and taking them back out to go to or from a shooting range or hunting area.

      Every time someone appears in public with a visibly displayed weapon, somebody panics and calls 911. What can the police do about it? Not a damn thing. But let me walk into a 7-11 across the street from a medieval reenactment I am attending with my reproduction two-handed sword strapped to my back, and pretty soon I am kissing pavement trying to explain what I am doing and why I have a “weapon” strapped to my back! Same when my friend has his set of throwing knives on his baldric standing next to me.

      • jmprint says:

        So do you feel that anyone is trying to take your guns away, I own a gun, always have, I only need to pull it out of hiding when I want to practice target shooting. I don’t shoot anything living. Hunting is not for me, it is a moral thing, but I am not pushing that on anyone that is my own moral belief. I dislike it when paranoid people go around telling everybody that the government is going to their guns away. Control is only control.

    • jmprint says:

      Ditto!

    • Joyce says:

      you’re not the only one stcroixcarp! I am sickened and scared to death of these show offs who have to sling their guns to compensate for their manhood. They are nothing but spoiled children who have to have their toys.

  2. Grannysmovin says:

    From their god Ronald Reagan – “An AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home”

    When you are walking around the mall and people are openly carrying their guns and assault style weapons how do you know the good guys from the bad guys, the sane from the mentally disturbed, the racist from the non racist? Do they were hats, or do they have neon signs above their head? The idea that guns are allowed in bars, in Iowa a Blind person can obtain a gun permit is not gun safety and puts every other law bidding citizen in danger. Walker just signed legislation removing the 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases, so how do you do a background check to prevent selling to a criminal, mentally disturbed, terrorist etc? But you want an abortion you have to wait 24 hours if you want an abortion.

    • jmprint says:

      “But you want an abortion you have to wait 24 hours.” and travel 500 miles for some, and for others they go to jail if they do.”

  3. underledge says:

    Perhaps America should stop making and selling “guns” and other assorted killing items throughout the world. Can’t have things both ways!

    • jmprint says:

      This is the problem as soon as some one tries to even remotely come up with a solution. Negative people like you want to intercept the possibility. The NRA is a huge political machine, they have been the backing for the republicans for over the last decade. I have set and watched and read their intense paranoid paraphernalia. Don’t tread on me!

      • Joyce says:

        I couldn’t agree more jmprint. There’s always some troll that wants to sabotage any efforts. Guarantee that underledge (where he should be) wouldn’t be so vocal if he weren’t hiding behing his computer. (or her; I’m an equal opportunity finger-pointer.)

      • underledge says:

        So you believe that banning guns will solve or be the solution to hate and racism? Perhaps when this country gets it’s mind and method of operation of killing all over the world, then things may change. Count the number of wars since WWII and add the numbers of people killed.

        • jmprint says:

          Where do you read in my post banning guns? Question should be: Do I believe in open carry? The answer is NO. America is and has been doing fine without it. Wars have nothing to do with that decision. You are really reaching to make a mute point.

          • hicusdicus says:

            Well we agree. Open carry is stupid and serves no purpose. All the gun owners I know feel the same way. I believe all this open carry nonsense was orchestrated by the anti gun liberals.

      • hicusdicus says:

        American gun owners are about a 1000 times bigger than the NRA.

  4. Kurt CPI says:

    I think that at least a small majority of gun owners would support background checks for gun purchases. Just let it be done independently of the purchase so that it’s not tied directly to gun ownership. Perform the same background check for a potential gun buyer as would be performed for a prospective school employee or prison guard. Most gun owners have no problem with the background check itself, many willingly have bg-checks for employment purposes. It’s being singled out, labeled, registered differently than a non-owner that makes them uncomfortable. Even in the very blue state of Connecticut, gun owners defied the law and as many as 85% did not comply with registration of what were deemed assault weapons, a very telling statistic that doesn’t require any reading between the lines to decipher.

    • hicusdicus says:

      They most likely did not register them because they don’t own any assault weapons. Do you know what an assault rifle is? As far as background checks for buying a gun they are much more stringent than any of the above jobs you mentioned. I had to have a local, state and federal approval for my gun thing. You need to catch the ferry from your island, come ashore and see what is actually going on.

  5. latebloomingrandma says:

    Great ideas, E.J. It took a whole generation to change the acceptance of smoking everywhere in our culture. Having public service announcements or ads concerning gun safety or dangers would be a start in changing our national fetish with guns. Physicians SHOULD ask if your household contains guns. Homeowners’ insurance policies should have a higher premium for households with a gun. Parents should be held legally accountable for an “accident” with a gun by their children. All those things involve free speech or market forces that conservatives love.
    Personally, I don’t want to be around crowds where people openly carry guns. It makes me extremely nervous. Americans are arguing people. Nowadays you’re afraid to have an argument, lest you get shot by a short fused person.

    • jmprint says:

      Bi-polar is more prominent now, then in the past, due to drugs, either consumed by the individual or the mother while pregnant, and that can’t be changed. But gun control can.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        I find it ironic that the glut of Viagra which is a known enhancement to Testosterone in men only recently was reported to have side effects. More hormones in men and you get more nutty freaks who can’t control themselves.

        • hicusdicus says:

          The only real side effects of Viagra are a lot of smiley females. Since Viagra smiles are not your thing maybe science will come up with a drug for moose knuckle. Would that make you smile?

    • hicusdicus says:

      If that would shut you up I am all for it. I don’t think the length of the fuse is going to help you.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    We don’t need more gun laws. We need more gun manufacturing controls. No one disputes that guns are lethal weapons. When you start from that basis, you see the conundrum gun dealers have…They want 2 million guns manufactured a year…for profit. They can’t sell them outside their own states. But, do give these gun sellers credit for marketing savvy…where, but in the states with toughest gun laws, would they ply their wares?

    And, let’s be honest, they’ve already saturated the gun markets in their own states to the point where profits are not flush. So, they now move their businesses to states illegally where they know they can make owning guns look more glamorous, especially since these are states with tough gun laws.

    Who do they play their illegals guns to most? Inner cities where they know the majority of minorities live.

    Mind you, they wouldn’t dare allow these same minorities in their states to be the majority of gun owners. It’s why they manipulate the gun licensing in their states so minorities don’t own nearly as many guns as whites.

    In effect, they risk selling illegal guns in cities with tough gun laws so minorities will kill each other off…their big contribution to culling the herds of blacks and other minorities.

  7. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Who’s fooling whom here? If gun manufacturers, the lion’s share of whom are in red states like NC, GA, TN, KY and MO….had stricter controls on how many guns they are allowed to manufacture, the NRA would not be able to meddle in those laws like they do with gun control laws of the present.

    We control dangerous lethal drugs and chemicals all the time…why not guns? Because red state gun manufacturers are the billionaire campaign donors for a majority of red state politicians.

  8. Blueberry Hill says:

    We have the right to feel safe wherever we go. This is not a war zone, and they are making it into one. Guns belong locked up in their own homes, not on the streets or wherever they go. They all have blood on their hands whenever someone is killed with a gun.

    ..

    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      The excuse that “they” need protection is just sooooo much BS. I live 45 minutes from the city that was devastated by 9/11….No one walks around like the cowboys and rednecks do armed to the teeth in grocery stores, shopping malls or other public places. I do wonder precisely how their guns would have stopped those 11 terrorists in the planes that took out 4,000 Americans on 9/11. See how stupid their argument is?

      If you need a gun, you must have a pretty good reason…either you own a ranch where you need to protect livestock or you live in such a remote area where pumas and bears pounce any minute.

      We who live every day with the threat of another 9/11 type terrorist attack know that watching the behavior of others in public places is our ONLY protection. We don’t shoot first and ask questions later.

      • Blueberry Hill says:

        Absolutely! Good guys don’t need guns. Only the cowardly idiots walk around with guns. If they want to carry guns so bad, send them to Iraq where they can do some good; but I bet they are too cowardly to do that.

        ..

        • Eleanore Whitaker says:

          The dirty little secret of gun dealers is “who” they sell their guns to. They already saturated the market in their own states to white gun owners. Don’t allow blacks and other minorities to own more guns than whites and then…they come up north illegally selling guns to minorities in inner cities. Why?

          Because they want black men to kill each other off. So they make owning a cheap Saturday Night Special look like the ultimate power and then they make huge profits from selling guns illegally.

          This has a two-fold purpose for these southern and midwestern gun dealers, in addition to billions in profits, it helps them shove their states’ rights in our faces in violation of OUR states rights. Second, It kills off minorities to “cull the inferior races,” something these lethal exterminators are obsessed with.

          • Blueberry Hill says:

            If all the black citizens were also armed in the south, the whites would run like scared jackrabbits. They want to be the only ones with guns, yet many whites are not dying at the hands of black citizens, the real killers are the white citizens. And the money rolls in to the NRA and gun manufactures no matter whose blood is splattered.

            ..

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            I have relatives in NC, FL and TX. They restrict minorities in these states by limiting the number of gun licenses to whites only. Those good ole good ole boys are slick as babies’ bottoms when it comes to rejecting applications for gun licenses. Which, makes their selling guns up north to minorities even more disgusting.

          • Blueberry Hill says:

            Hmmm, maybe it is time to bring discrimination charges against the NRA, etc., in those states?

            ..

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            It was the GOP who ransacked the US treasury year after year and then to try and compensate raided SS, Medicare and Medicaid. When that still didn’t make up for their hideous foolish spending, they went after government. Now, the AFT funding has been cut just like all of the rest of the government’s departments. This means shortfalls in the ability to catch illegal gun runners from the very states who are refusing to fund AFT while they allow billions in lobbying by the NRA.

            It is long past the watershed to hang the red state politicians for abuse of power. Our Founding Fathers created a democracy of equality for ALL. But the GOP insists so long as they are the majority, no matter what skanky tactics they use to BE the majority, they are the only voices we need to hear. That’s abuse of power.

          • Blueberry Hill says:

            Absolutely! Hope we can get rid of these skanks next election, even though they cheat to make it harder. If they have to cheat to get voted in, they don’t deserve the seats they are seeking.

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            The founding fathers created a republic Equality of opportunity is what equality is all about. If you are a blithering idiot, you will never be a CEO, just a broom pusher at the local super-mart. You will have the opportunity to be on equal footing with all the other broom pushers, but only if you work h ard and do a good job. If Congress has been dominated by Demonut control for most of the last 80 years. Blame them for fiscal irresponsibility.

          • hicusdicus says:

            Do you actually believe what Elinore says? You two should get together and go camel riding.

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            Why? The NRA doesn’t sell guns.

          • David says:

            Hey idiot…I live in Texas. We don’t need a license to own guns like you Yankee pusses. Black people can buy as many guns as they want. What fricking country do you live in?

          • dpaano says:

            Yes, and Texas is one of the states with one of the highest homicide rates in the US. All because of their “lax” gun regulations.

          • David says:

            dpaano —
            Thank you for your comment. I am afraid that you are mistaken. Texas ranked 23rd in homicides in 2013 and is not listed in the top ten of states with the most homicides for 2014. Wall Street Journal
            Could you please provide some authority backing up your claim that Texas has “one of the highest homicide rates in the U.S.”?
            In fact, the statistics show that the rate of homicides in Texas fell quite a bit after the concealed carry law was enacted. Likely to fall more now that we have “open carry”. Have a blessed day.

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            Eleanor, you are off your meds. The federal form 4473 ask for race and ethnicity of the applicant. Some GOP senators want that removed because it is a backdoor tool for discrimination. You of course, have documentation to back up your outrageous claim.

          • hicusdicus says:

            From all your past posts it would seem you would be elated seeing men kill each other off. OMG you are a weird and strange person. I bet this is all related to you being the grand knuckle in the moose knuckle lodge. What ever happened to your ascension to the camel toe caliphate? Did you get it stubbed.

          • latebloomingrandma says:

            Whew!! Who is the weird and strange person again?

          • hicusdicus says:

            Oh! so you are also a member of the moose knuckle lodge. I did not mean to slight you.

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            Crime figures show that blacks commit a disproportionate number of the crimes and homicides involving guns. Perhaps gun merchants should up their racial discrimination to save black America from itself.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Yes…and mostly kill each other..Now your white boys…like Charles Whitman in 1972…he just picked innocent people off the street in Dallas…And then the next victim was a white male who shot JFK…come to think of it, it was white male good ole boy who shot JFK’s assassin. Then there were the mass murderers like your white boy who took out the Murrah building in OK…the white boy who took a gun and killed his classmates in that other “midwest town”…and the VA Tech shooter who didn’t mind killing innocent people on campus..by the time you white boys were done showing your gun toting asses, 11 children were shot dead in a school…Need more proof?

            We know why blacks kill blacks. In may 2015, 3 white Georgia good ole good ole boys were jailed for selling Saturday night specials to minority males in gangs ..just the KKK way of “culling the herds” the KKK hate boys hate so much.

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            Quoted from a CNN report on gun violence in Chicago 7/16/15, by Ashley Fantz: ” Much of the gun violence in the city can be traced to drugs that come
            from Sinaloa, the region of Mexico where “El Chapo” was born to a poor
            rural family and rose to lead a global network of smugglers, dealers,
            assassins, corrupt politicians and paid-off police. ” So why not tackle the real problem–the illegal drug trade from Central and South America? This drug network is controlled by Hispanic and native populations. If you must be racial in your rants, do not forget that other brothers of color (brown) are doing far damage than whitey. And don’t overlook our Asian bros that run a massive illegal drug import/export empire. Actually, it looks like the illegal drug business is rather non-discriminatory.There doesn’t appear to be any racial group not involved. Maybe we should be promoting it as an example of a non-discriminatory industry. We can overlook the death, mayhem, destruction, poverty and social disorder caused by this industry, right?

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Your problem with your so-called “proof” is demographics. 90% of ALL guns that come into the northeast are coming from GA, NC, SC, TN and not Mexico.

            Why? Because your post wants us to believe that guns are hauled over 2500 miles from Mexico to NJ? NY? CT? PA? MA?
            And, I can’t help but notice how your post also omits to state how those guns get from Mexico into the killer boys hands in TX, AZ, NM and OK…if not THROUGH these very states with the loosiest gun control laws in the US?

            Try again dipshit. The last 3 Georgia gun runners caught in NY brought those guns in from Georgia GUN manufacturing industries. Not Mexico..You can’t even get your demographics right. But, you’ll try to tell those of us living in the northeast that guns are coming to our states from Mexico? Anything so you gun asshats NEVER have to admit when you are wrong..so..let me be the first to give you the proof of GA, VA and NC gun runners come from check the NY Post, NY Daily News and CNN June 2015 for the gun runners we locked in prison for selling GA guns up north. Yeesh…do these hick asshats EVER leave the befrigged states?

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            Take a deep breath, put on your reading glasses and try again, Ellie. The quote I provided says that the Mexican drug cartels are main cause of the violence and deaths–not just gun deaths– that are fueling the crime in Chicago. NOTHING WAS SAID ABOUT THE SOURCE OF GUNS (The all caps are to help you focus.). You certainly don’t know the sources. The experts can only provide educated estimates. From various printed data on the internet: 74% of homicides occur during the commission of a felony involve guns. NICS records of legal gun sales show Kentucky, Texas, California and Illinois selling the most guns. The 4 highest volume gun stores are in Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and Tennessee. (Documentation of data sources available upon request.)

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            I do not accept that your post has more validity. Try again. First of all, the Founding Fathers used muskets…not AK47s. They never intended bullies to walk into grocery stores armed to the teeth like Rambo so men can show how “powerful” they are.

            The source of guns in the US proves one thing. It is long past time to control gun manufacturing in the US. No country of the world allows 2 million Saturday night specials to be manufactured every year.

            As for the rest of your biased putrid posts…NC, KY and GA are selling guns illegally in the northeast. That you don’t know this proves how backward people like you are. When the last 3 gun runners caught in NY City were from GA, what the hell does that tell us? That TX is allowing guns to float all the way to NYC? More BS than this even you can’t dream up.

          • David says:

            Hmmm…and weren’t they all registered Demorat voters?

          • David says:

            Maybe we should buy more fetal body parts from our friends at PP?

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            Eleanor, you are such a bigoted misandrist that you are totally laughable. A laugh always starts out the day on a good note.

        • hicusdicus says:

          What happens when a good guy is confronted by a bad guy with a gun?

      • hicusdicus says:

        In your case I would say shoot first but not before you have a backhoe standing by. The only question would be is how deep.

        • Eleanore Whitaker says:

          hicus…get real…It isn’t in my “case.” And I am not impressed with our veiled attempts at humor. The only question isn’t a question at all…it’s an answer you haven’t the mental capability of coming up with.

          • hicusdicus says:

            When dancing with you mental capabilities are not required.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Your mental capabilities are not exactly high on the Mensa ratings. Nor, do you show much more than the slum bum you are. Try again hot shot…you are zero for zero.

          • hicusdicus says:

            Looks like I finally got your goat. Now what are you going to do for fun?

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Looks like you are the one making an idiot of yourself. I have lots of fun…tormenting dicktators like you.

          • hicusdicus says:

            How do you like your dick taters, raw or baked with mayonnaise or butter? Knowing you I am sure it would be mashed and stabbed with a fork.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Dictatorial tyrants are especially fun for me. I usually chew them up and spit them out into the trash…not much left when I’m done with them.

          • hicusdicus says:

            You don’t swallow?????????????

          • Ran_dum_Thot says:

            So, you are another braggart, non-male bad arse. Whoopie.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            You arother show off, know it all with all the answers? Gee..Then with such a genius among us, you should have ended poverty, world hunger, war and had people living in outer space by now…Try again, dipshit.

      • Ran_dum_Thot says:

        Well, criminal and terrorists shot first and don’t ask questions later. Why do you want to encourage their behavior.?

    • tdm3624 says:

      I don’t think people have a right to feel safe because how someone feels about a situation or place is so subjective.

    • Ran_dum_Thot says:

      You seem to overlook the fact that the bad guys, the ones who actually use guns to commit a crime, don’t leave their guns at home, regardless of what the law may be. Criminals are noted for ignoring the law.

  9. dpaano says:

    Unfortunately, the NRA lobbyists have such a stranglehold on our politicians that none of them have the cojones to do anything. Even Manchin was threatened by the NRA when he put forth his proposal the first time…I doubt if he can get it through a second time (but I can always hope). We need to let the NRA know that our politicians are NOT afraid of them or their threats, but I don’t see than happening any time soon! I recently watched a documentary on Frontline about the NRA, and even some past-lobbyists were talking about how wrong they were and their ulterior motives. It also stated that the states with the most lax gun laws were the states with the highest homicide rates. Interesting….if not telling to us all!! We need to support our politicians against the NRA….after all, the NRA doesn’t elect our politicians, WE DO!!!

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