A house with a gun is not a home

Everybody was shocked by the news that on April 19 in Utah a three year old girl killed her two year old brother with a shotgun. Poor boy, poorer girl and still poorer parents, what a tragedy, also for the wider family, the ward, the community, the church, in fact for everyone. This is exactly what should never happen.

Such an accident always depends on a string of improbable circumstances: the fact that the gun was within reach of toddlers, that it held still one bullet, that mother or father were just out of sight at that very moment, the improbable aim at the little brother, her finding the trigger at all, etc. Sure, each of the chains in this string can be broken if proper care is taken, but my point here is stating the obvious: there should have been no gun in the house, not in this house, nor in any home. A house with a gun is not a home.

My Dogon ‘older brother’ Dogolu with his new rifle

This, I know very well, is a very European reaction, swimming against the American current, but it is deeply felt and very much part of my Euro-Mormon DNA. Guns and family do not mix, just as guns and gospel do not mix. For us from across the Atlantic, the USA has become a gun crazy country, totally in love with murderous hardware. Of course, we here in the ‘East’ can relate to the fascination of guns, these extended masculinities, and yes, we would be very bored sitting through a Western movie without any Smith & Wesson in action. Some Sundays ago our young Elders Quorum President avowed in his priesthood lesson that he was member of a shooting club, exuding some of that fascination to his audience, especially the youngsters. But then, the reaction set in that this was playing with fire (also addictive!) and that we were fortunate to live in a country where you could not just buy a gun in a shop. For me as a distancing anthropologist this meant that we in Europe had the good fortune that the monopolization on violence by the government was effected before democratization set in; in the USA this was the reverse, and this is one major drawback on the wonderful freedoms you-guys-across-the-ocean have accomplished. A house with a gun is not a home.

This Utah tragedy again cries out: ‘Enough is enough!’ Forget that stupid NRA mantra ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, because it is patently untrue – and completely subservient to a major industry. Two years ago in Beijing a young man got berserk and attacked bystanders in a mall; he had a knife and managed to struck out to 23 people before he was arrested. All 23 survived. Compare this with the rampant school killings, and the message is clear, the correct mantra runs: ‘Guns make people kill’. Here in Europe we also feel the attraction of arms; On April 9 2011 a young man in a mall in a quiet suburb went on a shooting spree killing six, wounding 17, before taking himself out, with his – yes! – Smith & Wesson. How quiet the area was shows from the fact that half of his victims were using a rollator or an electric elderly car. He was member of a shooting club and had the right to have some arms at his house. The public reaction was typical: we should have even more restricted gun laws, monitor better those in shooting clubs, so new laws are on the way. Guns make people kill. A house with a gun is not a home.

The author (younger!) dancing with a Dogon gun

The author (younger!) dancing with a Dogon gun

Of course there is the burglar issue, also in the Netherlands. On March 30 of this year two burglars tried to rob a jewelry store in Tilburg on gunpoint, and the wife of the couple owning the store shot down the two burglars. Indeed, now the public voice was different: the two burglars had it coming; the police also released the owners quite rapidly. But not all of us are jewelers, and the number of death by accidents in the USA far outstrips successful defenses-at-gunpoint. Actually the lady seems to have shot in panic through a door, accidentally hitting one burglar, only taking aim with her second shot. Guns make people kill and also a jewelry shop with a gun is not a home.

This has everything to do with the gospel, which is about – if anything – life and death, this earthly one and the eternal ones. We profess to be the Saints of the Lord, and we should lead the way to the insight that guns and gospel do not mix. When did I last hear about this problem in General Conference? I do not seem to recall. Of all sins, it is killing people that stands out as the real one and our leaders seem to be remarkably silent on this issue. The present Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama try to lead the way to peace and disarmament, and of course few people share their charisma and global audience, but a voice should be heard, ours as well. Even mine. So this is a call for all Latter-day Saints to open and join the debate: ‘Enough is enough’. Somehow we have to square our morbid fascination with the extended masculinity of guns with the really important issues in life: compassion, family, safety, trust and love. So, please Brethren, help us to move forward here, and lead the way. We all are on the same side, that of the Lord, so help us to be also on the side of the Prince of Peace. A house with a gun is not a home.

A Dogon boy with a millet gun

A Dogon boy with a millet gun

Walter van Beek

Just as a postscript and as an explanation to the pictures: I know I am standing on a lot of toes here, and I do so with full European intent. I happen to feel the fascination of guns myself, and the pictures show as much, they are from the Dogon area in Mali, my own fieldwork. The first one is my ‘older brother’ Dogolu showing off his magnificent new rifle, just bought from a local blacksmith. These are the type of flint-lock front loading muskets we in Europe made till 1814; the Dogon still make them and have found the ultimate use of guns: to make loud bangs during a funeral; the second one is this anthropologist (‘somewhat’ younger) dancing with a – quite small – gun myself, and the last one highlights the perennial and crosscultural fascination with guns: Dogon boys fabricate from sorghum stalks ingenious contraptions that can really fire a piece of stalk: a millet gun. Guns make wonderful musical instruments, but let that be enough.

191 comments for “A house with a gun is not a home

  1. ji
    April 22, 2014 at 5:31 am

    To me, firearms possession is a social or political matter, not a gospel matter.

    I haven’t heard about the Utah accident yet, but I feel sorry for everyone involved.

  2. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 7:04 am

    I’m sorry, but this post is wrong on so many levels.

    To begin with, I will state outright that I own several guns, ranging from small handguns, to hunting rifles,up to an AK-47 and AR-15 (both are semi-automatic only and the latter of which I built myself, rather than buying completed). I have Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs) that allow me to carry a handgun on my person in all but 14 states of the United States, and I am usually armed when I leave the home (if it is legal to be so wherever I am going). I participate in target shooting and gunsmithing (the manufacture, repair, and modification of firearms) as hobbies, and am looking forward to my first hunting trip later this year. I also teach others about gun safety on a regular basis.

    Let’s start with your simple statement that “Guns and family do not mix, just as guns and gospel do not mix.” There is actually a lot of doctrinal support for self-defense, for which guns are one of the most effective tools. I did a lot of research on this subject before I started carrying a handgun, and followed that research by a lot of pondering, prayer, and waiting for personal revelation on what I should do. The following is some of what I found that led me to be comfortable with the idea that I might someday have to take a life in defense of myself or my family.

    The doctrine of self defense is found throughout the scriptures, but probably the most clear place is in the book of Alma. With the Title of Liberty, Captain Moroni gave us a succinct list of what is worth fighting, killing, or dying for: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (see Alma 46:12).

    More specifically, we are told that we should “defend [our] families even unto bloodshed” (see Alma 43:47). That doesn’t mean that you seek out violence, but that you merely be prepared to do what you must to defend your own family. Alma also gives us the criteria under which we are held blameless for defending ourselves and our families: “Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies” (see Alma 43:46).

    The idea of self defense is not exclusive the the Book of Mormon. You can find it in the Old Testament (see Exodus 22:2), the New Testament (see Luke 11:21). We also find it in the words of modern prophets:

    “Well, my sisters, ‘peace on earth, and good will to men,’ is our slogan. That is our principle. That is the principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And while I think it is wrong, wickedly wrong, to force war upon any nation, or upon any people, I believe it is righteous and just for every people to defend their own lives and their own liberties, and their own homes, with the last drop of their blood” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 419).

    Within that context, a gun is nothing more than a tool. It happens to be the most effective tool we have developed so far for the defense of yourself and others. Unlike other such tools (such as knives or clubs, in all their forms), it does not depend on the strength of the person using it. An 85 pound woman can use them as effectively as a 300 pound man. Like other tools, they are neither good nor evil, but are dependent upon those who use them for good or evil.

    Contrary to press accounts, gun accidents involving children are extremely rare. For example, in 2010 (the most recent year with data), there were only 36 accidental deaths involving firearms (similar to the story that started the post) for children age 10 and under in the entire US. Including intentional deaths, that number rises to 167 children age 10 and under. Now, I know that you will say “that’s too many”, and I would agree, but you also need to look in context: in the same time period, 677 children age 10 and under died from drowning.

    Based on that data, you wouldn’t say that “a house with a pool is not a home”. You wouldn’t call for all bathtubs to be banned and removed from our homes. You would instead seek to educate people on how to be safer around bodies of water, including teaching your children how to swim or take a bath safely.

    With guns it is no different. The answer to the problem that started the post isn’t to get rid of guns, it’s to teach your children correct principles. We have done this with our own children (the oldest is only 3, like the girl in the story). Our oldest has a few toy guns (such as a bubble gun that he was given this week in an Easter basket), and we have worked hard to teach him that you never point it at anyone. He knows that “Daddy’s guns” are off limits until he gets older, and then only with Mommy or Daddy with him. At the same time, all of my guns (with the exception of the one I have on me) are unloaded and locked up.

    To bring this around to where we started, while the Gospel is about life and death, it does not require us to allow our own lives to be taken simply because someone else chooses to use force on us. The same People of Ammon who covenanted to not use violence later sent their sons to be led by a prophet in defending them with violence. What that tells us, more than anything, is that it is left to each of us to get personal direction from God on this matter. For some people, it is best for them to refuse any violence, even in self defense. For others, it is necessary to prepare to use violence in defense of self, family, and others. It is between you and God to figure out which group you fall into, and to remember that your answer is not necessarily going to be the same as my answer.

  3. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 7:11 am

    One addendum: The firearm and drowning fatality data I gave came from the CDC’s WISQARS “Fatal Injury Reports” available here: http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10_us.html

  4. April 22, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Amen and amen, excellent article! ;-)

  5. don
    April 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Thank you for this post. I agree with most of it but not all of it. Your courage to lay it out before a people many of whom have become idolatrous worshippers of guns is admirable and will surely be criticized. Ignore them.

  6. JKR
    April 22, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Thank you, Walter, for being a voice of sanity on this controversial topic. Guns should not be in homes where there are children. Period.

  7. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 7:48 am

    This post is right on so many levels.

    Think of all the completed suicides that would not have happened if young men had not had easy access to guns, regardless of whether their parents were as careful as Observer claims to be.

  8. Tim
    April 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

    The gun statistics Observer points to are wildly inaccurate. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/us/children-and-guns-the-hidden-toll.html?_r=0

    My parents had a tragedy in their ward some time back, involving two families I know well. Two pre-teen boys found a loaded handgun and were playing around with it. A tragedy for both boys, as one was shot in the head and died, and the other must live for the rest of his life knowing that he killed his friend.

    I don’t have issues with individuals owning guns, but they need to store the guns properly. Keeping a loaded gun on your person, in your vehicle, or in your house is a recipe for disaster. Children, especially boys, are powerfully drawn to guns, even when they’ve been told and taught to stay away from them. If you think you and your family are an exception, you’re wrong.

  9. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 8:17 am


    Even if we take the New York Times article at face value, it suggests that the number of accidental gun deaths among children is about twice the CDC-reported numbers I gave. That’s why I provided both the accidental gun deaths for children 10 and under (36) as well as the total for all gun deaths (167). Even if some of the accidental gun deaths were mistakenly classified as intentional, that would only affect the first of those numbers. It doesn’t change the comparison to accidental drownings (677).

    The Times article suggested that accidental deaths were under reported by about half. Even accounting for that, there is still an extremely low incident rate of accidental firearm death among children.

  10. April 22, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Walter, I don’t own a gun and would never permit one in my home for all the reasons that you state, but you’re wrong on this one. It’s hard for you to see in Europe, but gun owners in the USA are not the same as the NRA or whatever filters through the European media. Not long ago, several of my neighbors really did hunt and fish as a major source of obtaining food to eat. Their homes were, I assure you, very real homes.

  11. Marc
    April 22, 2014 at 8:26 am

    “A house with a gun is not a home. This, I know very well, is a very European reaction, swimming against the American current, but it is deeply felt and very much part of my Euro-Mormon DNA.”

    I’m a dual Swiss national, and most of my Swiss relatives maintain firearms in their homes pursuant to their current or former military obligations (most men in Switzerland are conscripted into the Swiss militia).

  12. April 22, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I’m American, and have the same sort of visceral reaction you have to the issue of guns, Walter. However, I long ago realized that what I need to do about it is move to Europe and live among the like-minded, not try to convince my fellow Americans that they are insane.

  13. April 22, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I like what the second observer posted here. Like him/her, I confess myself a gun owner. I also feel deep sympathy for the tragedy that brought this article into being. However, I disagree fundamentally with the premise of the article.

    Walter says, “This has everything to do with the gospel, which is about – if anything – life and death, this earthly one and the eternal ones.” I disagree. The gospel is about agency, first and foremost. That’s what the war in heaven was over and it resulted in 1/3 of our brothers and sisters not getting to live and die here on earth. If it were about life and death, then God would somehow disallow murder or tragic death to occur because agency would have to be subservient to life and death. The scriptures are clear: agency is more important than life or death. Clearly, life and death are essential pieces of the eternal plan, and they must happen (we are, after all, mortal). On the other hand, sin (misuse of agency) does not have to happen. It is a choice.

    The argument Walter makes here is essentially the same one that Lucifer made before we came here: people cannot be trusted to use their agency wisely so we must manipulate the circumstances to make sure that nothing bad can happen and everyone can come home safe and sound. That argument was rejected because it disables the learning opportunities presented by use (and misuse) of agency. I submit that this learning is what the gospel is all about.

    As to the matter of inanimate objects “causing” anything, you have the same problem. If a gun can cause someone to kill, then the devil can make me do whatever he wants. We know both are untrue. Pencils do not make spelling errors. Cars do not drive themselves into other cars. Guns do not point themselves and pull their own triggers. Only humans, whom God endowed with the gift of agency (knowing full well the consequences which would follow, including all of the tragic ones)–only humans can exercise agency and are responsible for the exercise of that agency no matter what inanimate tools may or may not have been used to facilitate their acts.

  14. Nathan Whilk
    April 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Poor homeless President Monson.

  15. April 22, 2014 at 9:04 am

    And thus I have learned I do not live in a home. Plus I have the grave misfortune of living in a “gun crazy country” that happens to protect freedom for the pacifists. I’m sorry, I can’t comment further. I cannot see past the tears.

  16. nate spurgeon
    April 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

    This is an argument that will go nowhere. While I appreciate many people’s aversion towards and sometimes disgust for personal ownership of firearms, I also appreciate the need for and usefulness of firearms. Full disclosure: I’m an American who doesn’t own a gun, but I’ll jump on any chance to go shooting with buddies who own them. The debate for and against gun ownership will never abate, so long as mankind has agency.
    Bottom Line: It is foolish to debate the extremes of this issue. They are what they are and they will always be out there for someone to abuse. It all boils down to personal responsibility and accountability as to how we use these things at our disposal.

    let’s frame it differently. Few members if the church will argue against the destructive power or evil influence of internet pornography. Yet it’s out there in all of its lurid forms, just a quick Google search away. And by quick, I mean QUICK. So, by the OP’s logic, can we say that a house with internet access is not a home???

    And here begins the blustering: Well,I only use the internet to see what’s on the blogosphere, or to watch General Conference. Nothing else. . .

    I will not question the veracity or sincerity of that response to one’s internet usage, since all I ever do with firearms is shoot soda cans and paper targets or the occasional clay pigeon.

    A house with internet access is not a home.

  17. April 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I used to agree, and now I don’t. Once I would have been horrified at the notion of having a gun in my home. I remember visiting a friend and being surprised to see a gun-related magazine on a table (I’d actually never had a friend who would subscribe to such a thing), and completely horrified at her next comment that “It’s about time we start teaching [4yo] about safety.” Now I feel completely different about it. Safety is the first thing you learn about guns, and the key to not fearing them or accidentally shooting someone. My daughters haven’t done much shooting but they know to never, ever point any kind of gun anywhere near a person, even if they know it’s not loaded.

    Several years ago my husband started getting interested in the issues around guns, home safety, and how to protect the innocent. He asked me about getting a gun, and I was (again) horrified. As I learned more I started to change my mind. Now we have a couple (locked away) and my birthday wish is for a shotgun.

    The sad fact is, there will always be sharks in the pond. Until the Millennium, and I don’t know when that will be, there will be predators using their agency to look for people to prey on. As a woman and mother of two girls, I am well aware that I am much weaker than almost any shark. If I were elderly, wheelchair-bound, or otherwise not the strong and healthy woman I am now, I would be at even more of a disadvantage. But I can get closer to equal if I can aim a shotgun at an intruder and tell him to get out of my home.

    I guess you would not like our ward’s new traditional Elders’ Quorum activity, which is a shotgun shoot open to the whole ward 18 and over (date night!). We just had one last weekend. Last time, I learned to handle and fire a 20-gauge. This time, I learned to fire a 12-gauge at clay pigeons. There is always a safety class first, and a side session on home protection. Our resident cop put me through a pretend scenario with an intruder in the living room and a child in a bedroom. He knows even better than I do that our formerly peaceful small town is getting more violent and crime-ridden all the time, and even my safe little neighborhood is not as safe as I wish it were. I certainly hope I never have to hurt anyone to defend myself or my family, but I’d rather have the ability to do so if I need it than not.

  18. mpb
    April 22, 2014 at 9:18 am

    A shotgun does not use “bullets” and in fact it was a .22 caliber rifle that was the subject of this tragedy. This doesn’t change the improbability nor the sadness of the outcome. But it helps to sound like you know what you’re talking about before you start implying that those who keep guns in the home are somehow less righteous. I find that the less exposure people have had to firearms the more black and white they tend to view this issue.

  19. Wahoo Fleer
    April 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    And all this time I thought I grew up in a home. Glad to see that a more enlightened individual from a more enlightened place who gets his information from more enlightened sources has deigned to show us the light. Anxiously awaiting the post on how a house with a swimming pool is not a home.

  20. Steve Smith
    April 22, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for the post, Walter. Technically, what happened was an unfortunate accident that is very rare. The parents were irresponsible with gun storage. But your thrust is right. A world with no guns is only a safer world. We should support all efforts to rid this world of guns, especially semi-automatic weapons and handguns.

  21. fbisti
    April 22, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Just because the tragedy you lead with happened in Utah does not make this a “gospel” or religious issue. While I may agree with “some” of your hyperbole, you lost my support with your vapid and overly provocative headline/title.

  22. Sandra Dietze
    April 22, 2014 at 9:31 am

    #2 Very well put. We currently do not own a gun. The only reason we don’t is because we can’t afford one. In our home when we get a new pet we read about them. We study and visit others with them. We school ourselves on how to take proper care of them for both the pets safety and our safety.
    I grew up in a home with guns and we were taught from babe’s that guns are to be respected and not toys. We were taught how to handle guns and how to clean them. We never got the guns out of their safe spot even though we all knew where it was and it was not locked. It was too high for small children to reach.
    Our children have taken gun safety and have learned to respect guns. We do not allow pointing of guns at other people or in the direction of other animals or people.
    I have never been a hunter but my children have been taught how to shoot and and be safe doing so. I reserve the right to own a gun and protect my family if necessary. I have never been a hunter, due to my tender heart for living thing’s, but if I ever felt the need to protect our family I would not hesitate to do so. I do not own a gun yet but one day we will and our children and grandchildren will already have been taught gun safety. I will not listen to anyone tell me it is not my right. The world is still a dangerous place where many are being enslaved and killed or their freedoms taken away. I refuse to stand back and be an observer in my own story. I will take an active roll in discouraging others, be they individuals, be they groups, be they countries including our own by owning my own protection. Standing up for freedom and liberty, and doing it with as much verbal, vote, phisycal, or spiritual fire power as is necessary. No Kingsmen, no Gadeanton Robers, No king Noahs, will ever be able to even think about taking away my or my families life without knowing it will be dangerous for them to do so.
    I have never shot a gun to kill but if I had to I would.

  23. Steve Smith
    April 22, 2014 at 9:36 am

    One more thing, too, Walter. A large portion of Americans agree with you on this one. But the bug of gun-nuttery has unfortunately spread among many LDS in the Mormon belt, hence all the irrational pushback on this thread.

  24. Wilfried
    April 22, 2014 at 9:40 am

    You must be insanely courageous, Walter, to tackle this topic on a mainly American-Mormon site, but I admire you for it. You knew what to expect, and most of the preceding comments confirm it. As was to be expected, commenters twist the point you are making and broaden the issue to dimensions of protection, hunting, sport, and even war in heaven and free agency.

    Of all the comments to defend guns in the home, this one by Observer strikes me as the most deplorable: “There is still an extremely low incident rate of accidental firearm death among children.” Tell that to console the family whose child was shot to death.

    Yearly hundreds of children die in American homes because there was a gun in the home and circumstances led to the accident. Parents and the shooter (often a sibling) will live the rest of their lives with one obsessive regret: “I wish that gun had not been in my home.”

  25. Mark Ashurst-McGee
    April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I grew up in a home with a gun.

  26. Jettboy
    April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

    The American obsession with guns is matched by the same (slowly eroding) obsession with freedom. You should pay more attention to Mormon history (since that is the topic at hand) for what happens when citizens give up gun possession. They become easy targets for those who still have them or took them away.

  27. Wahoo Fleer
    April 22, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Yes, all opposition to the claim that a house with a gun in it is not a home is simply irrational gun nuttery. Claiming that a house with a gun in it is not a home is a perfectly justifiable claim that only an irrational person could disagree with.

    This is indeed a very courageous post with the reactions predictable and the reactions to those reactions just as canned.

  28. DB
    April 22, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Amen, Bryan, amen. I have nothing more to add other than my support for your comments. This is one of the most shortsighted, judgmental pieces I’ve ever read. The author should maintain his home as he sees fit but to judge mine to be less of a home or less gospel-centric because of the presence of a firearm is unchristian and ignorant at best.

  29. Jettboy
    April 22, 2014 at 9:54 am


    I guess the consolation is that all I need to do is have a gun in my presence to make you run away. Again, should we also get rid of pools at homes because they also kill children? How about cars since accidents cause many deaths of children? How about sharp objects like knives? Bathroom cleaners? Medication? At what point does the number of “tragedies” tip over onto “ban it”? Walter isn’t courageous. He is tyrannical and ignorant.

  30. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 9:55 am


    I’ve known families who felt that pain. There’s often nothing that you can say that would console them. I’ve also known families who lost loved ones from all manner of other accidents, negligence, and even criminal actions. My own aunt was killed last year in an ugly car accident, but that doesn’t mean that we need to restrict how everyone else drives.

    One family’s pain does not and should not determine how everyone else should be forced to live.

    “Hundreds of children” don’t die every year in American homes because there was a gun in the home. More children die accidental because of swimming pools than guns. Far, far, more children die because there is a car in the family than because of a gun in the home.

    I understand the desire to “do something” to ease the emotional pain that people feel after a terrible loss. But getting rid of guns is an emotional response, not a logical or reason-based one.

    In the US, there were 11,422 firearm-related homicides in 2010, according to the CDC. At the same time, there are an estimated 55,000 to over 4 million defensive uses of guns each and every year. (55,000 is the estimate given by many gun control activists.) Most researchers hold that estimate to around 250,000 to 350,000 defensive uses. That means that on the low end, guns were still used 5 times as often for defense as they were to intentionally kill someone else.

    What would you tell those quarter million people, or even those 55,000 people who defend themselves with guns each year?

    The gospel clearly states that I can defend myself and my family, and in some cases it outright COMMANDS me to do so. How am I supposed to be able to follow that command if you would seek to deny me the means to do so effectively, because you fear for the far more infrequent accidents that tug at the heartstrings more?

  31. John Mansfield
    April 22, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Americans and Europeans need each other so badly. Comparison with Asians, Africans, Latin Americans, or Pacific Islanders just doesn’t scratch the same itch. The inclusion of photos from Mali in a European’s criticism of Americans is the most interesting part. Americans are indulging passions best left to primitive tribesmen?

  32. JimD
    April 22, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Wilfried, what do you tell families of children killed in back-yard (or bathtub) drownings? Or car accidents? The bottom-line argument is the same: that the costs of a policy, while horrendous, are outweighed by the benefits (individual, collective, or both) of that same policy.

    If you want to shame gun advocates for their cold calculus, fine. But don’t pretend you have some sort of moral high ground, unless you’ve given up driving and are demanding an end to private ownership of swimming pools. Otherwise, you’ve got as much blood on your hands as the NRA does.

  33. KLC
    April 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I don’t own a gun, I have no desire to own a gun, I would not have a gun in my home, guns bore me. But I have no sympathy for this post nor for Walter’s knee jerk chiming in.

    “…commenters twist the point you are making and broaden the issue” Please Walter, how can you accuse anyone of broadening the issue when the OP is saturated with the broadest possible generalizations?

    A house with a gun is not a home? I place that alongside other equally ignorant politicized puffery such as “all Europeans are socialists and therefore out of step with the gospel of Christ.”

  34. April 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I was just re-reading the column and noticed an interesting phrase: “monopolization on violence by the government” as a good thing. I think this means that you believe that the government should have a monopoly on violence? (At least on gun violence–anyone can make a bomb or use a knife or a car.) Which is to say, the government gets to have all the force. That is very nice if the government is benign, but Europeans as well as Americans must have noticed by now that governments are very often not benign at all.

    It’s largely an academic point, since any government is going to have more force on its side than any citizen. But I think a lot of Americans don’t see that as a *good* thing. Many believe that government has so much power anyway that that power ought to be as limited as possible.

    It’s just interesting to me that you’d use a phrase like “monopolization on violence by the government” and assume that it’s a good, even an obvious good.

  35. Ronaldo Fletcher
    April 22, 2014 at 10:20 am

    “I wish that gun had not been in my home.”

    Their regret should be, “I wish I wasn’t stupid and kept the gun locked up in the home” The gun didn’t kill the child, neglect, lack of supervision, and just down right stupidity killed the child. Play the blame game if it makes you feel better.

  36. Bryan S.
    April 22, 2014 at 10:23 am

    OP: …the USA has become a gun crazy country, totally in love with murderous hardware.

    #5. …a people many of whom have become idolatrous worshippers of guns

    #12. …not try to convince my fellow Americans that they are insane.

    #23. But the bug of gun-nuttery has unfortunately spread among many LDS in the Mormon belt, hence all the irrational pushback on this thread.

    And we wonder why we can’t have any dialogue on this issue.

  37. April 22, 2014 at 10:34 am

    A supportive reply (I think), in the nature of a question: I own a .22 caliber pistol for target shooting. At our old home (all in the U.S.) I kept it locked in a locker at the shooting range. At our new home there is no reasonably convenient facility to do the same, so for the moment the gun is locked and hidden, high and away, in our house. I want it out and am distressed to the point of considered giving, melting or selling to get it out of the house. What to do?

    To be clear, I’m of mixed mind at best about commanding or dictating what others do, but as a matter of persuasion I would like everyone I know, everyone I visit, everyone with children, to get guns out of the house. I’ve heard the self-defense arguments; I think they are largely rationalization, and to the extent they evidence a thoughtful weighing of heightened risk for possible benefit, I’m not persuaded.

  38. Mark B.
    April 22, 2014 at 10:35 am

    From one side, we get .22 caliber rifles confused with shotguns, which now fire “bullets” and on the other we get people weeping when they learn that their childhood abodes were not really homes–I guess they were barns or chicken coops–and the spouting of completely improbable statistics about all the crimes that guns supposedly prevent (has anybody here ever used a gun to prevent a crime, or has anybody ever known anybody who did?), and then the peanut galleries on both sides chime in with the usual cheers for their champions.

    Why don’t you settle the whole debate like men? Choose your man, and seconds, and I’ll row you across the Hudson to Weehawken at dawn tomorrow.

  39. LBK
    April 22, 2014 at 10:39 am

    My attitude about guns was set at an early age. I grew up on a farm two miles from a pheasant club. Once a year the club would release the nearly tame pheasants and club members would tramp through surrounding farms to show their manly ways by killing as many birds as possible. Careful preparation had to be made. Officers of the club would go around the day before and tear down selected “no hunting” or “no trespassing” signs so all the virile hunters could legally go on your property plus enough alcohol had to be available at the clubhouse so every upstanding man could be falling down drunk before safely firing a weapon, Oh, there were a few accidents the lefty, pinko, commie types would complain about: a rabbit (pet cat) shot off a neighbors porch, assorted farm animals killed as they got in the way of a pheasant. One fine American was properly incensed when my father got mad because he did a Dick Cheney and fired at our house (sorry, he fired at the pheasant that flew by our home) and we were only hit by a few BB’s, no big deal.

    You manly men can pack your heat. Though, I have never known anyone saved by doing that. I have known a woman murdered by her husband, two kids accidently shot by their brothers, several youth suicides and innocent victims of drive by shootings

  40. Peter LLC
    April 22, 2014 at 10:39 am

    “The American obsession with guns is matched by the same (slowly eroding) obsession with freedom.”

    Have you tried boarding an airliner lately? Free riding on public lands? Withholding your taxes? Americans aren’t obsessed with freedom any more than they are obsessed with providing world class health care to all citizens. Americans limit freedom with gusto and flourish when they can be convinced security is at stake. To the extent they are obsessed with guns and privatizing the monopoly on violence, this reflects a pathological distrust of one’s fellow man rather than some noble notion of freedom.

  41. Marie
    April 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

    This is not exactly what you’re looking for (and I didn’t read the comments so this may have already been posted), but I was pleased to see at least this being preached by an apostle to the most gun-obsessed portion of the Saints (the Utah County ones):


    There is a strain of Mormons who really feel they will have to have a gun not just to fight off the evil federal government, but to protect their food storage when things get bad. Oh, the ironies abound. It is those people who alarm me, whille I have no worry about people who have a gun strictly for hunting or tucked away with full safety precautions for self defense. But those who promote a gun culture and alarmist we-must-amass-private-weapons-to-vaquish-evil-and-defend-our-food-stash are frightening and arguably in violation of the basic tenets of Christianity.

    Another great little piece on guns is this one that my brother sent me, by economist and social commentator Tyler Cowen. He looks at U.S. gun and alcohol culture and has an interesting take on Mormons thrown in at the end. He might ask Walter if he also believed that “a house with a bottle of wine is not a home.”


  42. April 22, 2014 at 10:51 am

    The issue really is one of balance.
    Should people be allowed to keep guns for sport or hunting? If there are proper protections around the firearms and the ammunition (ie keeping them in separate locked steel boxes at all times, not allowing them to be carried in a concealed and loaded fashion, etc): sure, why not?
    But do you really need a semi-automatic AK47 for hunting deer?

  43. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I also completely agree with Observer. In addition to that, there is more to be said about Americans and their sense of self-sufficiency when it comes to defense. Many of us do not live in a constant state victim-hood, where the police can only be used to clean up a mess and look for the bad guy later. Still, others feel safe and protected because somewhere out there, police can possibly be called during a crime, and may eventually be able to show up as it is still happening–thus preventing it. There’s not a lot of burglaries, murder, rape, and kidnapping because there are police, right? These should be almost non-existent with this model.

    This is wishful thinking.

    I am anticipating a response to the rejoinder of: a house is not a home if it has a pool in it.

    I would also put forward this motion: a dad is not a man if he chooses not to protect his family from immediate danger as effectively as he can. And this goes for gun possession as well as gun safety.

  44. April 22, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Except of course in cases like this: http://musical-box.deviantart.com/art/RObODEER-102419642 (Ah, Mitch Benn how I love you)

  45. Kari
    April 22, 2014 at 10:57 am

    It drives me crazy when families I know buy guns to protect their food storage. Yes, Christ would want us to kill someone to so desperate for food they are willing to steal instead of sharing with them. It defies logic.

  46. Peter LLC
    April 22, 2014 at 10:58 am

    “But do you really need a semi-automatic AK47 for hunting deer?”

    To be fair, the tragedy at hand suggests that carelessness regarding relatively “harmless” small caliber weapons are a bigger problem than awe-inspiring assault weapons.

  47. Peter LLC
    April 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

    “There’s not a lot of burglaries, murder, rape, and kidnapping because there are police, right? These should be almost non-existent with this model.”

    Not when the perpetrators carry heavier weapons than the beat cops.

  48. April 22, 2014 at 11:09 am

    “I would also put forward this motion: a dad is not a man if he chooses not to protect his family from immediate danger as effectively as he can.”


  49. Marie
    April 22, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Exactly, Kari. We’ve used the parable of the Ten Virgins to promote food storage, and in the process given the Saints this idea that food, like spiritual strength, cannot/should not be shared with those who didn’t prepare, and therefore (some conclude) we are justified protecting our excess with deadly force. I wish we could use another parable in conjunction with that one when trying to help members understand how our food storage is intended to be used: the feeding of the five thousand. The young boy who had the foresight to bring food for himself gives that food to Jesus, who makes it feed all who need to be fed. I believe that those who faithfully prepare and then are willing to share will have miraculous provision made for them to accomplish whatever God needs them to accomplish. We are not to kill to protect our food.

  50. Earl Parsons
    April 22, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for this.

    I’m an American who loves shooting firearms. Shooting was my favorite part of Boy Scout camp. My parents even met on BYU’s rifle team.

    But when my son was born, my wife and I cleared out all the ammunition and firearms from our house. For me the probability that I would have to use a gun to defend my family, and that I would successfully use a gun, was much less than the probability that my son would be injured or killed by the gun.

    I agree that a home is no place for a gun.

  51. April 22, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I have strong opinions about gun-ownership, but I’m completely uninterested in hashing them out here.

    This is what strikes me as much more interesting. Here we have someone stating an opinion that is calculated to be offensive and hurtful (and that, see Alison’s post (#15), quite definitely succeeded) and for this insensitive, absolutist position they are being heralded as… brave? (See Wilfried, #24.)

    I suppose we have very different ideas of what bravery looks like. But, for the sake of clarity, denouncing the private home life of millions of fellow Mormons with no threat of any repercussion other than some predictably irate comments on the Internet doesn’t fit the bill for me. “Malicious,” sure. But “brave”? Not hardly.

    FWIW, there are guns in my home today. Guns, plural. It is absolutely a home to me and my children. It might not feel like one to you, but that’s OK. It’s not your home. It’s ours. There were, for the record, no guns in my home when I grew up as a child. That was also a home. I have no idea if my children, when they are old enough, will choose to have guns in their homes or not. They will be homes, either way.

    I don’t feel the need to hijack family tragedy to score absolutist, myopic political points. But hey, I’m probably just not brave enough.

  52. April 22, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Steve Smith (#23): “One more thing, too, Walter. A large portion of Americans agree with you on this one. But the bug of gun-nuttery has unfortunately spread among many LDS in the Mormon belt, hence all the irrational pushback on this thread.”

    “Anyone who disagrees with me” = “Irrational nut”

    Thanks for clearing THAT up!

  53. Dave K
    April 22, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I find it uplifting to consider that temples – the House of the Lord where He visits His saints and where Satan has no power – are gun-free zones. Every place where a temple is built becomes one more place where guns are evicted. As a member of the church living in the US, I love to see the temple. May the peace within our temple walls spread throughout the land. May our own homes fully embody the temple.

  54. Old Man
    April 22, 2014 at 11:40 am


    I don’t know if you understand how offensive and divisive I find this post. This horrific accident and many others like it could have been avoided completely with adherence to gun safety protocols and a simple technology that some Utah police departments and gun shops have offered for free and can be purchased online for about $10: trigger locks.

    It is telling that your experience with firearms is so extremely limited. And my American-LDS toes are hurt. Especially when a generation of gun-toting, gun-loving Americans had to liberate your home country from a dictator not so very long ago. My uncle was awarded a silver star for his actions in a fire fight with a Waffen SS unit just outside of Holland. We buried him here in Utah eight years ago. Up until his death, he still wept when he told stories of that war. Too bad that a Dutchman feels that my uncle, a fellow Latter-day Saint who helped win the liberation of European people, never had a true home!

    FYI, many of the Q of 12 and First Presidency own and/or use firearms. I have actually seen Thomas Monson out pheasant hunting with family and friends just north of my community. President Packer and his family hunt as well. Too bad that President Monson and President Packer have never really had homes!

    And gun-related deaths just don’t happen in the Netherlands, with their strict restrictions on firearms. Do they? And with hardly any guns, there is a much lower murder rate in the Netherlands, correct? Perhaps your Euro-Mormon DNA should clean up your own backyard and protect your own freedoms first, eh?

  55. John Mansfield
    April 22, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Watch the Dennis Quaid movie Frequency sometime. Most heart-warming shotgun killing ever portrayed. “Right behind you, son.”

  56. anon today
    April 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

    This topic is so interesting to me. I’m a liberal in pretty much every other way, but I lean conservative on guns (and abortion). I’ve wondered why, as I’ve jettisoned much of my conservative upbringing why I haven’t felt a similar need to swing left on this issue. I’m more of a moderate–I support some gun control measures and I don’t conceal carry, but I genuinely enjoy shooting with my family and the peace of mind that gun ownership gives me as a single woman living alone in the city. I think being raised around guns and being taught about safety from an early age takes away the horror instinct that people unfamiliar with guns have.

    In any case, I’m very turned off by the extreme language on both sides. Obviously the OP was aiming to be provocative by suggesting that a house with a gun is not a home and is out of line with the gospel, and comments suggesting all gun owners are totally bananas and idol worshipers sink well below the level of respectful discourse. By the same token, responses comparing guns to swimming pools strike me as irresponsible.

    But oh well. Let the firestorm rage on.

  57. DQ
    April 22, 2014 at 11:47 am

    How many of our prophets and apostles would be surprised to find out they did not grow up in a home? I presume most of America’s founding Fathers didn’t grow up in a home according to this. Interestingly enough, I’d gladly have the founding fathers providing us with their wisdom than the vast majority of commentators today.

    My firearms are locked up in a safe. I would consider it irresponsible to not have them. For a US citizen, in fact, it’s pretty much enshrined in our constitution as necessary to maintain freedom. Granted most people don’t agree with it, but it’s one of our founding principles nevertheless.

    So more accurately, rather than being so provincial, closed minded, and culturally insensitive as many Europeans often are (sorry, couldn’t resist), just say that you would not accept firearms in your house.

    It’s not for you to decide what goes in mine, or George Washington’s for that matter.

  58. DQ
    April 22, 2014 at 11:54 am

    “I find it uplifting to consider that temples – the House of the Lord where He visits His saints and where Satan has no power – are gun-free zones. ”
    I suppose a construction worker after a hard days work would be asked to leave the tool belt and hammer in the car.

    But what else is excluded and therefore Satanic? The temple is also a cable tv free zone, cell phone free zones, scalpel free zones, jackhammer free zones, ipad free zones, skateboard free zones, sex free zones, etc.

    It’s amazing how close minded the self-proclaimed open minded and nuanced thinkers become on certain issues.

  59. Wilfried
    April 22, 2014 at 11:57 am

    A larger issue in Walter’s post is worldwide (Mormon) gospel culture. He started out with the shooting incident, but at the end broadens the perspective to much more—gospel and peace. The comments have mostly focused on the well-known American gun debate, which was to be expected.

    A deeper question which the post evokes is to what extent a growing international gospel culture will relate to some of the tendencies of the Mormon-American West. The ratio of Mormons on the Wasatch front (to use this vague identification) is constantly shrinking in comparison to the number of Mormons in the rest of the world. Thanks to the internet, many Mormons around the world are increasingly aware of the social and political positions of the majority of “Wasatch” Mormons and, overall, may find some of these positions very disturbing. One could speak of a growing rift as the church expands. I have no idea how this will evolve in the future, but it can be a source of growing tensions and misunderstandings, in particular on sensitive topics such as this one. I think Walter’s emotional plea tried to express how most Mormons around the world probably feel on this topic.

  60. April 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    “FYI, many of the Q of 12 and First Presidency own and/or use firearms.”

    The debate is settled. Please close the comments now.

  61. Wilfried
    April 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Old Man (55), and also a few others, I did not write the post. Walter is not Wilfried.

  62. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    It’s not really an irresponsible comparison, anon. The OP is stating that due to the accidental deaths of children in homes containing guns, a home is not a home when it has a gun. He also claims that guns kill people (even though they are inanimate objects). Observer pointed out that there are more deaths that come from accidental drownings in swimming pools and bathtubs (also inanimate objects). If the REAL concern is about limiting accidental child deaths, then just as much fervor would go into eliminating tubs and pools, right? Aren’t those also unnecessary risks (and greater ones, by the numbers) like guns are? The point is, it’s not the inanimate objects that are responsible, but it is us as parents that are responsible, which means unloaded weapons, safes, locks, safety lessons, and also pool gates, locks, complete attention in the bathroom, etc.

    It’s interesting that most people would never think twice about removing tubs or pools over safety concerns, yet those who are comfortable with firearms are “nuts” and “insane.”

  63. twiceuponatime
    April 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    This post is not as courageous as many claim. He will get praise from the people he wants praise from and be attacked by people he doesn’t care about (and has been told to “ignore” – i.e.. don’t acknowledge the other side even really exists).

    Wilfried provides a good case of ideological blinders, since he refuses to acknowledge the lives of children saved by having a gun in the home (familial defense actually does happen, though the media doesn’t report on it).

  64. April 22, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I do not know how Central and South American Mormons feel about guns in homes (probably their opinions would be all over the place, since there are many). I’d quite like to know. I kind of doubt that they feel the same as Europeans often do, though. I’m a classic California Mormon myself, daughter of hippies and everything. :)

  65. DB
    April 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    The fact that guns are not allowed in temples is meaningless. They are not allowed because it’s not an appropriate place for them. I’m also not allowed to take a grill into the temple and cook up some steaks. Maybe I shouldn’t have a grill in my home either. Or wear shorts, play games, listen to the radio, etc.

  66. Beau
    April 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    @steve, irrational pushback? I ultimately see this as a political issue, not a gospel issue. By framing it as a gospel issue and saying “I’m right, you’re wrong,” Walter is ensuring a lot of pushback, which is probably what he was looking for.

  67. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    “there are more deaths that come from accidental drownings in swimming pools and bathtubs (also inanimate objects). If the REAL concern is about limiting accidental child deaths, then just as much fervor would go into eliminating tubs and pools, right?” (63)

    No, because bathtubs and swimming pools are not sold in back alleys of cities like Washington DC and Philadelphia and New Orleans and used for large-scale murder of minority populations.

  68. Mark B.
    April 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I guess that since firearms are made of metal (and even plastic, apparently), they fall outside the curse pronounced upon those who rely upon the arm[s] of flesh, who make flesh their arm[s].

  69. April 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Oh, good grief. We’re not supposed to be judgmental about other people’s life choices until its something we don’t approve of personally. Then we can condemn millions of decent, stable American families.

    Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Gun hate is a tribal shibboleth and that’s all it is.

    If anyone wondered if liberal Mormons believed what they said about tolerance and judging, or were genuinely intellectual or just adopted the pose thereof, let them look no further.

    Liberal cultural imperialism. Whited sepulchers.

  70. wreddyornot
    April 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I agree with your post, Walter.

    I live in the midst of the gun-nuttery of the Wasatch Front, not far from where many of these tragedies have and are playing out. I’ve united with others and together we rely on lawful professionals to work to protect us. It’s called civilization and government.

    If despite provisions of law and reliance on government infrastructures, those with evil or careless intent should take me or loved ones’ lives or cause pain and grief with their guns, I believe The Word is mightier to comfort and save than any one with a weapon is. In that so-called “War in Heaven,” just what kinds of weapons did it take to banish those who wanted to use force? The Word.

  71. DQ
    April 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Adam G,
    Not to mention the fundamentalist zeal in their analysis as some of them read between every possible line to extrapolate their idealized version of gospel truth. (ie. not allowed in the temple, or church for that matter, therefore XYZ must be God’s will across space and time).

    It’s amazing the degree to which some members completely reject apostolic teaching as individual/cultural bias, and then move on to extrapolate as much as possible from an action here, a sentence there, etc. This inconsistency is then completely lost by these same people who please for consistency on a whole host of issues from sin/homosexuality or equality/womens issues, etc.

    I’m actually ok with people being wrong, it’s part of life. But then these same people who are quick to condemn many of their traditional brothers and sisters as self-righteous, act completely self-righteous on a whole host of issues they view themselves as having staked out all the truth on.

  72. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm


    It doesn’t matter where they sold. Personally, I have never purchased a gun in a “back alley” in Philadelphia, nor have I killed any minorities (it sounds like your complete experience with guns has come from CSI). What matters is that they kill children in the home, and kill more than guns do. Your comment just goes to show that it’s not about “the children” so much as it is “guns are icky and nobody should have them.”

  73. John Hatch
    April 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Well said, Walter. Part of the problem we face in the United States is that most boundaries have been removed when it comes to guns. Whenever some tragedy happens, instantly gun owners start screaming bloody murder about how they’re a “responsible gun owner” and how they shouldn’t have to be lumped in with the irresponsible ones. But that’s the rub: We have no way to tell who’s an “irresponsible gun owner” until it’s too late and tragedy has struck. In many places in the U.S., it’s perfectly okay to walk down the street with a gun strapped to your person. So until that individual starts firing, they’re a “responsible gun owner.” It’s perfectly okay to own any manner of guns and as many as you can get your hands on, so someone with an arsenal is a “responsible gun owner.”

    With other things that require responsibility, however, we have boundaries. If someone drives drunk, we can pull them over and arrest them before they kill or harm someone else. We have boundaries that say, “This behavior is unacceptable, even if it doesn’t result in someone’s death,” because we want to make it clear that certain things aren’t okay. But thanks to the NRA and similar groups, we have no boundaries around guns. Want to bring a gun into a school? Fine. A church? Grand. A lot of locales have worked hard to pass laws that make it okay to take a gun *into a freaking bar!* What could possibly go wrong?

    We need much more stringent boundaries when it comes to guns in this country. We need to stigmatize certain behaviors and make it absolutely clear that if you are paranoid enough to walk around with a gun strapped to you, you are the last person I want around my family. We need to make it clear that many places are off-limits to guns (and in the meantime, we need to debunk the stupid canard that says “That just tells the bad guys they can do what they want!”).

  74. April 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    To be fair, though, this was masterful trolling.

  75. DCL
    April 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Walter, great post. Many Americans and American Mormons share your thoughts, although certainly with quieter voices

    Your post touches on a number of important underlying issues – 1) the way gun ownership is a cheap and sorry touchstone of masculinity among people who do not otherwise feel empowered in society, 2) a mindset that imagines oneself as primarily a victim and thus fetishizes self-defense, 3) the notion that there are fixed “law abiding citizens” vs. “bad guys” and that responsible gun ownership is automatic membership in the former, and 4) the warped influence of the gun industry.

    I don’t think that progress can be made in American gun culture without these underlying issues being addressed effectively. An example would be Finland, Norway and Switzerland, all of which have high rates of gun ownership in homes (and, yes, around children!) without the creepy fetishization of U.S. gun culture, primarily because they are used for animals and not out of a desire for self-defense.

    I do disagree that it is not possible to responsibly own a firearm in a home.

  76. rk
    April 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Another European, who fails to see the irony in his opinion against Americans owning guns and the fact that he has been protected my American firepower for his whole life.

    Who knows, maybe Putin someday might decide he wants the Low Countries. It would be a simple matter to take over an unarmed country that abhors fighting. Then you can learn to preach about gun control in Russian.

  77. April 22, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I found this interesting, in light of this discussion. The real problem isn’t guns: it’s suicide. Apparently.

  78. Steve Smith
    April 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    “Gun hate is a tribal shibboleth and that’s all it is”

    Haha, whatever tribalism is motivating gun hate is far outweighed by the tribalism of gun defenders. Besides, we don’t have to worry about the tribalism of gun haters. But we really have to worry about the tribalism of gun-nuts. Timothy McVeigh, nuff said.

    “And gun-related deaths just don’t happen in the Netherlands, with their strict restrictions on firearms. Do they? And with hardly any guns, there is a much lower murder rate in the Netherlands, correct? Perhaps your Euro-Mormon DNA should clean up your own backyard and protect your own freedoms first, eh?”

    Uh, Old Man, actually yes the homocide rate is much lower in the Netherlands. Thanks for making a case against guns.

    Also, a message to all of the gun nuts on this post: oh no, our freedoms are being taken away because the guvument won’t let us own bazookas and nukes. Every last gun nut is a blight on the human existence.

  79. Josh Smith
    April 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm


    I’m not sure you understood what you stepped in when you posted this. We’re going to hit 100 posts in record time.

    I’m not sure you can understand the emotional significance of guns in America. Many, many people (particularly in Utah and Idaho) understand their relationship to their country (and even their relationship to God) through their relationship to guns. Attitudes about guns are literally tied up with some people’s souls. It is my experience that there is no room for persuasion on the issue of guns.

    As an empirical matter, guns in the home are instruments many more deaths and injuries by accidents, suicides, and homicides than they are instruments of protection from invaders. Walter, I don’t think it’s possible for you to really know the futility of your post. Guns in America is not an argument from reason–it is an emotional and psychological quagmire.

    (I’m not checking the “follow-up” notification box because I already know how this discussion will go.)

  80. Beau
    April 22, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    @Steve Smith “every last gun nut is a blight on the human existence.”
    You truly believe that? It’s not just out of frustration at the other side not listening? That sounds extraordinarily intolerant, hateful, and bigoted to me.

    I still believe this whole post doesn’t belong on T&S.

  81. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    CSI, Pierce? What’s that?

    (Actually I do know what it is. No, I’ve never watched it. Yes, I have fired guns. No, I do not own one. No, I would not describe my position on guns as “guns are icky and nobody should have them.” That’s a childish personal attack.)

    Are you familiar with the crime statistics for cities like DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans? Do you know how many shooting victims these cities have each year? Or homicides? If not, you’re arguing from a parochial perspective and have no idea about the real cost of widespread gun availability in the United States. The numbers are truly shocking.

  82. Nathan Whilk
    April 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    606 deaths in U.S. in 2010 due to accidental discharge of firearms. 26,009 due to falls, 3,782 due to accidental drowning and submersion, 2,782 due to accidental exposure to smoke, fire and flames, 33,041 due to accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances.


    A house with stairs is not a home. A house with a bathtub is not a home. A house with a fireplace is not a home. A house with chemicals is not a home.

  83. Peter LLC
    April 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    “We’re not supposed to be judgmental about other people’s life choices until its something we don’t approve of personally. Then we can condemn millions of decent, stable American families.”

    Yes, indeed, just imagine the discomfort millions of decent Americans feel upon learning their lifestyle choices have been condemned by some Mormon convinced of the righteousness of his cause. But they should be able to take some measure of comfort in knowing that there is very little about life as we experience it that should make us think that the ultimate reality is a comfortable thing.

  84. Old Man
    April 22, 2014 at 1:34 pm


    My apologies.

  85. Mark B.
    April 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Like Justice White in Flood v. Kuhn, I join in all parts of DCL’s comment except paragraph 1.

  86. April 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Adam G (#75) –

    To be fair, though, this was masterful trolling.


    rk (#77)-

    Who knows, maybe Putin someday might decide he wants the Low Countries. It would be a simple matter to take over an unarmed country that abhors fighting. Then you can learn to preach about gun control in Russian.

    Thanks for the IRL LOLs. :-D

    Josh Smith (#80) –

    As an empirical matter, guns in the home are instruments many more deaths and injuries by accidents, suicides, and homicides than they are instruments of protection from invaders.


    The comparison you’re relying on is “justifiable homicide” vs. “suicide / accidental death”. So you’re comparing: lives killed in self-defense vs. lives lost to suicide / accident. What would be more relevant would be lives saved in self-defense.

    Obviously that is impossible to measure, but there are some relevant numbers available for perspective. First, common sense (and a little bit of Google) will tell you that there are about 8 – 9 survivors for every gun-shot fatality. Which means your justifiable homicide figure is excluding 80-90% of the cases where a person fires a gun and hits an attacker, but does not kill them. Not to mention the cases where a person fires a gun and doesn’t hit an attacker, but still prevents an attack. Not to mention the cases where a person threatens to shoot to prevent an attack, but doesn’t shoot.

    Estimates vary greatly on this controversial number, but there are several tens of thousands (very low end) to a million (middle range) such defensive gun uses every single year. Now, does every single one result in a saved life? Certainly not. Sometimes the guy breaking into your home at 3am only wants your TV and not to rape and kill your daughter, but the point is that in order to have a grown-up conversation we have to use real numbers and acknowledge when they are unavailable.

    Further reading: Defensive Gun Use (Wikipedia)

    Also my own blog from today (before I saw this): NRA Aggregates Civilian Gun Usage (Yeah, yeah, it’s the NRA but the stories are sourced from elsewhere.)

  87. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    “there are several tens of thousands (very low end) to a million (middle range) such defensive gun uses every single year” (87)

    That’s ridiculous, Nate. (Or in other words, there are three kinds of lies.) NRA and its lackeys and a Wikipedia article are not unbiased sources. Show me some FBI data.

  88. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm


    Come on, it’s not really a childish attack. That’s how people on here are talking about guns–zero tolerance for them. I used the example of crime drama because your statement ignored the majority of legally obtained and legal use of firearms. The OP wasn’t talking about gang-related violence, but about Mormon families that have guns in the home, so I think you’re off on a tangent there. Besides, your example is a great reason why myself and others like me choose to balance the power of criminals in our homes, neighborhoods, and shopping malls.

  89. SusanS
    April 22, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Gun ownership has always run counter to faith. Supporters are always quick to point out the Captain Moroni’s, but fail to acknowledge that the group of Lamanite pacifists who refused to pick up any arms in their defense are held up as the most righteous group in the BoM.

    I can’t speak for hunters, but I think someone who feels they need a gun to “protect themselves and their family” is not living by faith, but by fear.

  90. Walter van Beek
    April 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Dear all

    Be sure that I know American culture well enough to have had some idea of what I stepped into, but the response still exceeds my expectations. Indeed, I gave an emotional plea, and yes mine is definitely a Non-Western American approach. For most people in the world gun ownership is not tied into their identity and they do realize that people with guns kill people, quite a few know that from bitter experience. Throughout most of the world guns are associated with bandits, danger and too often with unreliable governments. And anyway, people owning guns are accident prone.

    The right to defend oneself is clear, and I am no pacifist, nor does the gospel in my view compell me to be one, and neither does the Church. I joined the Church when I was doing my time in the Dutch army, and took my duty as a soldier seriously. Yes, we in Europe still fondly remember the fact that the Allied forces liberated us from Nazi Germany – in about a week we will have a national day of remembrance of just that, and we do appreciate the USA playing a pivotal role. If there is one global cop, it better be the USA, and I sometimes am ashamed about the EU indecision in international politics. But all that is not the issue. The question is first whether it is advisable to have an arms race within your own country, and I think it is not. Also, I do think that the briljant Enlightenment philosophers who drew up the Constitution did not have in mind that each household would own an AK47 with cop killer bullets. I am not the one to tell other people what to do, but some borders have to be drawn, I think. By you Americans, not by me.

    The second point is that International Mormons see this gun love as something perpendicular to the gospel of Christ, and that might be strange to some Americans. Maybe the image of a peaceful Jesus resonates more deeply across the ocean, but I somehow cannot see Jesus toting an AK47, not even a Colt That might be deeply emotional here atour side, and Europeans expect the churches to lead us into renouncing violence and the use of guns. Also the Mormon Europeans expect as much from their leaders, and here we are met by a deafening silence and that bothers us. So consider this a voice from abroad reminding you, as Wilfried stressed, that we are a global church, that violence is the major problem in this world, and that owning guns individually might not be the proper solution for that problem.

    And yes, and I do know many of you grew up in wonderful homes with the guns safely stored away, and surely handle guns better than I do on the picture. I introduced my own mantra, with its inevitable simplistic overstatement, but I think it is much better than the NRA one, and at least tries to induce people to careful handling of and reasonably thinking about the terrible destructive powers we have at our command.

  91. Peter LLC
    April 22, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I wonder what straw Nathaniel Givens would clutch at if Americans were better marksmen.

  92. Hans
    April 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    The real question that should be at the heart of this debate, to me, is not if the Government has too much power, or if we should have the right to bear arm or shoot someone off our property. I guess the debate is about whether or not we, as peaceful loving followers of the Creator, should arm ourselves or not. In a safe environment, it would be foolish to do so. But were I to live in a hostile environment, I might do just that. As a matter of fact, I once did, living in Texas, and my wife almost shot me accidentally when I came home unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Furthermore, I used to do fencing as a sport. Poked a lot of people, but never killed anybody, though. On the other hand, perhaps the people of Ammon (quoting the same Book of Mormon that was quoted before in this debate), give an example of how not to protect home and family, when it says: “And ye know also that they have buried their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin; yea, ye can see that they fear to sin – for behold they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies, and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their faith in Christ.” (Helaman 15:9) Or perhaps the words of Jesus in the JST of Mark 14:47 in which it says: “And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus commanded him to return his sword, saying, He who taketh the sword shall perish with the sword. And he put forth his finger and healed the servant of the high priest.” Hmm, Jesus was talking about a sword, and not about a sabre. I must be in the clear. Frankly, I am sure glad that I raised ,y family in a relatively safe environment where my home does not need to be protected by a gun and where the whole country is “up in arms” if anybody does.

  93. John Hatch
    April 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Statistically, owning a gun for protection is an awful lot like choosing to drive across country instead of fly because you’re afraid of a plane crash. You might *feel* safer, and odds are very good you’ll reach your destination alive and well. But statistically, you’ve made the less safe choice. The odds are much more in your favor if you choose to fly.

    So it goes with gun ownership. You may *feel* safer (you’re not) and odds are no one will end up dead. But statistically, you are much more likely to be the victim of an accident or a violent death (either by suicide or a family member) with your own gun than the odds that you’ll stop a criminal. Gun owners will obfuscate the issue with anecdotal tales of heroism where the gun saved the day, and they’ll point to other things that kill people (cars! swimming pools! baseball bats!), but the reality remains: owning a gun in your home makes you and your family less safe, not more safe.

    The paranoia of the victim mentality makes bad choices. Gun ownership is one of them.

  94. April 22, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    We have the right to own guns. We have the right to eat unhealthy foods. We have the right not to exercise.

    There is a lot of tragedy in this fallen world. That’s for sure.

    There is no stopping it.

    How about all those Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, who confiscated all their guns first?

  95. Bryan S.
    April 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    The “I can’t see Jesus doing X” argument always confused me. Just because one can’t see Jesus doing something doesn’t mean it isn’t a legitimate activity. I can’t see Jesus sharing pictures of cats on Facebook or writing blog posts really.

  96. Mark B.
    April 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Actually, RMM, deaths by firearms in New York City are lower this year than they were 50 years ago. Either that’s really effective policing, or people in New York are just progressing into a higher state of existence. Or maybe it’s because firearms ownership in the city is severely limited by licensing laws. I’m putting my money on 1 and 2, because guns are still available for those willing to break the law to acquire them. But, somehow, all of us law-abiding folks don’t live in terror of the gun-toting outlaws (you know, the only ones who will have guns when guns are outlawed).

    If you live in some godforsaken rathole of a town and go to bed in fear that a rapist is going to break into your house, I’d suggest that you get a dog. A barking dog is a much safer deterrent than a firearm, and it’ll curl up next to you on the couch and keep you warm on a cold winter evening. I guess you might prefer curling up next to your gun. YMMV, as they say.

    But, if you’re not up to owning a dog, then move to New York, the safest big city in the United States.

  97. John Mansfield
    April 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I’d like to hear more about Dogolu. How does he feel about American gun habits? How do the Dutch feel about his?

  98. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Just went back and read my comments. I never mentioned New York City, Mark B. Glad to know New York’s safe. Perhaps the criminals have been gentrified out of the city. That doesn’t solve the problem in Baltimore or Chicago. Did you know 45 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend?

  99. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    SusanS (#90),

    Perhaps you didn’t read my comment (#2) that specifically addressed that. I can understand that, as it was rather long, but I ended by saying:

    “The same People of Ammon who covenanted to not use violence later sent their sons to be led by a prophet in defending them with violence. What that tells us, more than anything, is that it is left to each of us to get personal direction from God on this matter. For some people, it is best for them to refuse any violence, even in self defense. For others, it is necessary to prepare to use violence in defense of self, family, and others. It is between you and God to figure out which group you fall into, and to remember that your answer is not necessarily going to be the same as my answer.”

    The People of Ammon made a covenant with God not to use violence because of their specific circumstances. A generation later, they were willing to break that covenant in order to defend themselves and their friends (the Nephites). Instead, their sons (who had not made that covenant) took up arms and were led by a prophet (Helaman) in defense of their homes and their friends and families. Those same sons are among those you describe as being “held up as the most righteous group in the BoM”.

    There is nothing wrong with choosing pacifism, but it is important to recognize that the Gospel does not require pacifism in the face of a violent attack. It is one thing to choose it for yourself. It is another thing to tell others that they are wrong for not choosing it.

    I would never tell someone that they need to buy or carry a gun (with the exception of joking with the father of a newborn girl that they need to start looking at shotguns before she starts dating ;). It’s an intensely personal decision, and if you don’t feel up to the significant responsibility, then you shouldn’t do it. However, I also don’t feel that it is anyone else’s place to tell someone that they can’t do it, especially using the Gospel as the reason for doing so.

  100. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Mark B. said:

    “all of us law-abiding folks don’t live in terror of the gun-toting outlaws.”

    Really? So nobody in America is afraid of shootings that take place in schools, movie theaters, bases, malls, etc.? Perhaps that is wishful thinking. Or perhaps you speak for yourself only. Or maybe that’s what the problem is–folks who think everything will always work itself out and then boom–a mass shooter kills 15 people because nobody armed themselves.

    SusanS said:

    “someone who feels they need a gun to “protect themselves and their family” is not living by faith, but by fear.”

    When was it ever promised that faithful Mormons will be exempt from violence against them? Has no violence ever been committed against a good Latter-Day Saint? If you can legitimately answer those, I’ll dump my guns.
    Your example of the Lamanites laying down their weapons ignores the history that came before it. They buried their weapons so that they would not be tempted to use them wickedly again, and made a covenant not to. And then they were cut down. That situation doesn’t describe the majority of LDS people. Their situation more resembles that of Moroni, who actually made a covenant to protect their families and freedoms (which is also in line with the 2nd amendment).

    Interesting the claims that people make to defend an extreme bias.

  101. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Why don’t you go back and read John Hatch’s comment in 94, Pierce, and think about it for awhile.

  102. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    John Hatch (#94),

    Part of the problem is when you take general statistics and apply them to specific circumstances.

    For example, you are right that I will likely never need to use my guns in self defense. Even if we accept that there are 3 million DGUs each year, there are also over 300 million guns in the US. That means that (assuming no one gun is used for more than one DGU in a year) that a random gun has less than a 1% chance of being used defensively in any given year, even assuming that it’s being carried all the time.

    However, that doesn’t hold up when you get to a specific person’s circumstances. For example, a person in rural Arkansas is less likely to have a DGU than someone walking the streets of urban Philadelphia. Similarly, a battered spouse who gets a gun for self defense against their abuser during a divorce is more likely to need it than someone who is single and lives alone in an apartment and rarely travels more than 20 miles from home.

    In my case, I started my preparations to carry after I had gone through a difficult divorce, and was informed by several credible sources that my ex-wife had made threats of violence against me. Owning and carrying a sidearm became part (but not all) of my response to that threat. Fortunately, 7 years later, that threat has not materialized, but that doesn’t change the fact that at the time, I faced an increased risk, and I found appropriate ways to manage that risk.

    Today, I no longer carry daily because I’m concerned about my ex-wife coming after me (in part because last I heard she was trying to move out of the country). Today, I primarily carry because I have a wife and three kids who rely upon me for their support, and I intend to keep them safe. While we live in a fairly safe neighborhood, we have still had occasional issues (such as drug dealers stashing “product” in our back yard, or bounty hunters showing up on the doorstep at 1:30am).

    That is why, for the most part, whether, how, and what to do for self defense is a very personal subject, that each individual has to decide for himself or herself. You need to evaluate the risks in your own life and figure out how best you are comfortable mitigating them.

  103. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    John Hatch has an opinion that is different than mine, and his point has been made by many. To me, a counter to John’s example is “statistically, you could die in a plane crash, so I won’t fly on a plane.” Maybe that works for him. What is ignored by yourself and by John Hatch is personal responsibility. I have chosen to keep my guns secured so that my children do not have access to them. There are many who do not, and those have the risk of becoming a statistic. The precautions I have taken severely minimizes the risk of accidental death. The factor of personal responsibility, which is ignored, has been compared to drowning in the home, which has a higher statistic. John says that we are pointing to other “things” like cars, pools, etc. But he shows a lack of understanding in that it is not the “things,” but responsibility that is really behind accidental death. To play off his statement again: “owning a pool and a bathtub makes your family less safe, not more safe.” But those statistics don’t apply to you until its your kid that drowns.

  104. April 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Mark B.,
    yours is my favorite post so far. Since as gentleman I wouldn’t want to take unfair advantage of anyone who has an allergy to gunpowder, I propose the use of bowie knives instead.

    John Mansfield,
    that was a great clip.

  105. April 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm


    The NRA will provide plenty of straws.

  106. John Mansfield
    April 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Yes, Adam it was. If people see it, their eyes will go misty, and they’ll start sobbing, “I was so wrong. A house with a gun is a home, the best kind of home imaginable.” And not will only they be thinking kind thoughts about shotguns, but they’ll also have enjoyed a full-strength affirmation of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and quitting cigarettes.

  107. Wilfried
    April 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    One wrong impression from the debate could be that Europeans are naive gun-rejecting pacifists. That would be as big a stereotype as Americans as Wild-West gun-loving cowboys. Guns exert a fascination on most males (I’ll let the psychologists explain it) and Europeans are no exceptions. Walter did not deny that. Be assured that millions of Europeans have an old gun or rifle hidden away in their home, even if the law in most European countries strictly forbids it (so well hidden and never used that accidents very rarely happen). But it gives these people the feeling that they can defend themselves, should the unpredictible ever happen, just as in the U.S. or with the Dogons. It’s innate in human nature. And thousands of movies have deeply impregnated our minds with the image of the power of guns.

    But a major difference between Europe and the U.S. is that most European countries have a vivid memory of war and destruction caused by arms on the own soil. Cities and villages are dotted with monuments as a reminder. War cemeteries abound. Commemorations are plenty. Nearly every family has its personal tragic story to tell (and in many cases it were allied arms that caused most casualities). Even today in my home country Belgium every year people can be killed as they stumble on grenades or bombs of one of the two world wars, still buried in the ground. In the media the use of firearms is always associated with armed robberies or criminal activity. Arms possession is therefore viewed as something menacing, almost obscene. Europeans who have a gun or rifle at home will keep very quiet about it. In countries were guns are allowed in the home (such as in Switzerland), it is a quiet topic, without public debate. That is why the open promotion of guns in the U.S., the easiness to purchase them, their visible presence in homes, and the many related tragic accidents, shock Europeans (and people in other countries) so much. I think we need to read Walter’s emotional post also in that context, as he was prompted to write his post after reading about the horrible event in a Utah home (which by chance became world news in papers around the world).

  108. April 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    True, true, JM, but after they’ve acquired those spiritual feelings, how are they supposed to act on them? I’m not one to criticize our leaders, but its a crying shame and a travesty that with so many manufacturers out there, we’re still left without guidance and have to ask, which of all these firearms is right?

  109. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Chris Henrichsen (#105)

    Perhaps you aren’t familiar with what the NRA actually does. First and foremost, it is the world’s largest gun safety organization. Its gun safety curriculum is considered the “gold standard” for gun safety training, and is used by military, law enforcement, and private citizens all over the world. It also provides free, age-appropriate, gun safety materials to schools through its Eddie Eagle program (the focus of which is to teach kids to stop if they find a gun, don’t touch it, and tell an adult).

    It is an organization for sportsmen and conservation. They provide education, training, and significant financial support through their hunter services division. They also provide significant grants and assistance to numerous gun clubs and ranges to encourage places where people can practice and train with firearms safely. They run competitions, just like other sportsman groups do, to encourage people to test themselves and improve their skills.

    They are not representatives of gun manufacturers (that would be the NSSF – the National Shooting Sports Foundation). They represent over 3 million individuals who have joined together towards mutual goals. Part of that involves lobbying and political action (which is actually done through a separate organization – the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, or NRA-ILA), but a large part of it is done quietly, out of the public’s eye.

  110. April 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    You are wasting your time, Observer. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him draw his Beretta U22 NEOS and blaze away at it.

  111. Josh Smith
    April 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Observer (#109): The NRA has no connection with gun manufacturers? Really? Just for kicks and giggles, go ahead and give us an argument about the multi-billion dollar gun industry’s ambivalence toward the NRA.

    Wilfried (#107): The most interesting part of this debate for me is seeing a European perspective on American gun culture. I’ve had numerous debates about the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution, and it’s almost never an argument about legal principles. Gun debates always have a deeply psychological element. I’ve lived in the mountain west of the U.S. for most of my life, and it’s just part of the culture.


    In my part of the world, guns are used for suicide far more often than home defense. Suicide is followed by accidents. Accidents are followed by homicide by other family members. After suicide, accidents, and homicide is home- and self-defense.

    Everyone hunts in the fall. It’s a fun past time. It unites the generations, and it gets people out into the natural world. I see nothing wrong with people getting out and enjoying hunting season.

    In my part of the country we bring guns to the ward father-and-son campout–and these aren’t nansy-pansy shotguns. We bring semi-automatic rifles to the ward father’s-and-son’s campout. It’s actually a lot of fun.

    All that being said, it would be nice to hear a gun advocate own up and admit that having a gun in the home is simply not an effective self-defense strategy–unless your home is in Damascus.

  112. Mark B.
    April 22, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Gee, thanks, Adam G (#104). I really would prefer to see gentlemen engaged in an affaire d’honneur below the Palisades in Weehawken, than in endless blathering in useless words on this blog. If Bowie knives be the choice of weapon, I won’t object. I’ll rent lawn chairs and sell popcorn too.

    Pierce: (#100) I don’t think most people live in fear of random mass shootings at malls or schools. The NRA and it’s stooges are forever telling us that such events are rare, and that the overwhelming majority of gun owners are responsible, etc., etc., so why should I fear? Besides, I believe what Jesus said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    Observer: (#102) I don’t accept that there are 3,000,000 DGUs per year–that number qualifies in two of Mark Twain’s three categories of untruths: it’s both a damned lie and a statistic. I know a lot of people who own guns, and I’ve lived a long time, and I have never heard of anyone ever using–or even brandishing–his weapon. And, even though you’re anonymous here, I’d suggest that you avoid telling about threats your ex-wife made against you. It makes it way too easy to make amusing comments at your expense.

  113. DQ
    April 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    “Also, I do think that the briljant Enlightenment philosophers who drew up the Constitution did not have in mind that each household would own an AK47 with cop killer bullets”

    Just Hessen killer muskets? They wanted guns that would defeat an army, domestic or foreign to be in the hands of the people. The war was precipitated by a domestic army attempting to confiscate/destroy heavy weapons (cannon).

    We’ve certainly departed pretty far from what the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was, but when I read it and consider history, it would seem that the intent is for the citizens to provide a credible force against an army, not necessarily to go hunting or sports shooting or even protect their kids from intruders.

    Would most Americans agree that (correct) original interpretation of the 2nd Amendment should be applied today? Probably not. I wish we would actually put the constitution to use though and let states rally for or against various amendments that actually specify what kind of weapons we ought to permit. I’m ok with letting the people decide through the means our constitution establishes.

  114. April 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Mark B.,

    your red-blooded all-American scheme to do well while doing good is praiseworthy, but I’m afraid that when gentleman resolve their disputes with the aid of Col. Bowie, tradition require they do it on a sandspur in the Mississippi.


    P.S. I love that you first denounce useless blather and then engage in some. I assume the irony was intentional? It’s weapons-grade internet.

  115. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    “I don’t think most people live in fear of random mass shootings at malls or schools.”

    So why all the hubbub about gun control laws after Sandy Hook? Anyway, if your statement is true, which I actually think it is, it’s because people go out with a hope that they won’t be attacked, and accept the role of victims when they are (unless they use other, less effective means of defending themselves and are successful, which happens).

    Ultimately, I also don’t live in fear simply because I carry a gun. But I feel that I am better prepared because I do. Your quotation of Jesus had a context that was ignored. He was speaking to His disciples who were to represent Him in the field. When I was a missionary, I didn’t have a gun, despite the dangerous areas I was in. I was there in His name.

    Besides, Jesus also later told them to sell their cloaks and buy a sword.

  116. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm


    “We’ve certainly departed pretty far from what the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was, but when I read it and consider history, it would seem that the intent is for the citizens to provide a credible force against an army, not necessarily to go hunting or sports shooting or even protect their kids from intruders.”

    We haven’t departed. Those things were already a GIVEN. Nobody questioned that a person has a right and a duty to protect themselves and their homes with guns. People HUNTED for their food. This is only a modern controversy as government has become more invasive. The reason why the 2nd amendment is stated like it is is because it frames the relationship between gun ownership and the government, not gun ownership and personal use.

    “Would most Americans agree that (correct) original interpretation of the 2nd Amendment should be applied today? Probably not.”

    This is only because of people’s dependency on the government and a devaluation of freedom. If people today think that the 2nd amendment is not applicable, it is because they are ok with the idea of a limitless government.

  117. John Hatch
    April 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    “But he shows a lack of understanding in that it is not the “things,” but responsibility that is really behind accidental death.”

    Actually, I addressed this in my first post. My mom has a swimming pool. She is legally required to keep the pool fenced and gated. She is legally required to keep the pool covered when not in use. If she is not doing those things, she can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined—even if no one died or got hurt. Again, that’s because we as a culture establish boundaries of acceptable behavior.

    Now, if there was an aggressive lobbying organization, say, the National Pool Association, they could scream bloody murder about these laws. They would insist that such laws only punish responsible pool owners. They would further insist that irresponsible pool owners are going to be irresponsible regardless of the law, and so we don’t need any laws or any boundaries whatsoever around pool ownership.

    We have almost no boundaries for gun ownership. And so, unlike something like a swimming pool or driving drunk, we have no way of identifying the problem before it happens. In our NRA culture where just about anything with guns goes, we have no way of identifying an “irresponsible gun owner” until someone is dead or grievously injured. Every gun owner, it seems, is “responsible” until someone ends up dead thanks to their gun.

    So here’s an idea: Let’s make it a mandatory twenty year sentence in prison if someone dies from your gun if law enforcement or other professionals determine 1) You were not justified in using your gun for self-defense, or 2) Your gun was not properly secured in a gun safe when someone got ahold of it. So yeah, if your kid shoots himself or someone else, and they did not break into your gun safe, you go to prison. If your gun gets stolen from under your bed and is used in a crime or a suicide, you go to prison. If your gun is accidentally discharged when you’re hunting and you kill another human being, you go to prison.

    All you “responsible gun owners” should be totally for that, right? I mean, if you’re so responsible, you won’t be one of the people who’ll be going to prison for this, right?

  118. Tim
    April 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    #117 nails it. Irresponsible gun owners–even if their guns are illegal, stored loaded and out in the open, are often not even charged when a child obtains the gun and someone is accidentally killed. The accidental killing in my parent’s ward (the ward I grew up in) resulted in absolutely no legal ramifications for the gun owner, although the pre-teen boy who was playing with the gun and shot his friend with it ended up in a treatment center (essentially jail for kids).

    I have a very short list of False Gods American Mormons Worship. Some of those I struggle with, and there are probably others that I worship that I’m just not aware of.

    After reading the comments above, I’m making an addition to that list.

  119. Martin James
    April 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I think a house with a swimming pool is not a home either and at least 10 times as likely to cause a death of a child.

  120. Observer
    April 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Josh Smith (#111): The NRA doesn’t REPRESENT gun manufacturers. It represents gun owners, who make up its membership. As part of that, it has developed relationships with gun manufacturer, especially in areas where they share common goals. However, that doesn’t make the NRA beholden to the gun manufacturers. In fact, the leadership of the NRA is selected by its members, in open elections, one round of which is coming up next week at the annual meeting.

    Mark B. (#112): Go back and reread what I wrote. I used the 3 million number there because it was the high end, to present the greatest chance of the general statistics suggesting a DFU. If we used one of the lower numbers (such as the more generally accepted 250,000 number), it only makes the actual point I was making stronger. (It’s same reason that earlier I used the 55,000 number for DGUs, because it presented the weakest argument for my side, and still would get my point across. In both cases, there was also the added benefit of making the math easier.)

    Additionally, I have always been open about many of the circumstances around my divorce. I make no secret of the fact that I was a victim of spousal abuse, and as a result of that I am a very strong advocate for both self defense and victims’ rights. Women aren’t the only targets of spousal abuse, and I refuse to hide what I went through because of other people’s small-minded stereotypes.

    If you feel it necessary to mock or ridicule anyone because they were targeted by an abusive spouse with threats of violence, then that says volumes about you, not me.

  121. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 6:29 pm


    Gun owners aren’t the ones who are bringing punishments due to accidents to the extreme. If you are going to instate a mandatory 20 year prison sentence on gun accidents, then you better be ready to advocate big prison time for other “preventable” accidents such as drowning, poisoning, etc. Luckily, I don’t have to live in your world of absolutes. I will keep my guns out of the hands of my children because I am responsible, not because of some statute. Just like I’ll do my best with the other things.

    However, child endangerment laws often actually include leaving dangerous weapons, including loaded guns and knives, within reach in a home where children live. How a judge applies these depends on the circumstances, like everything else.

    Your mentioning of the pool issue and drunk driving doesn’t really address the points we’ve made, especially as it relates to personal responsibility. Drunk driving presents an immediate risk to others on the road, and when an officer happens to catch someone at it, the person is arrested. If a person is presenting an immediate threat to others with a gun, such as firing it in public or waving it around at people, that person is also arrested. And I don’t know why you would try to use pools to prove your side when it has been shown that many more children die from drowning than by guns, despite supposed laws governing pool (and bath?) ownership (I live in AZ and have never heard of a fence or pool covering law). You should also be ready to concede that since laws are in place for pools and drunk driving, then drownings and DUI’s have all been prevented (“unlike something like a swimming pool or driving drunk, we have no way of identifying the problem before it happens).”

    It’s always going to be circular logic when you blame inanimate objects instead of personal responsibility, because eventually the same logic can be used against things you don’t find disagreeable.

  122. RMM
    April 22, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    You live in Arizona, Pierce, and have never heard of the laws regarding swimming pools? That’s hard to believe. When did you move there? Yesterday? How can a person live in Arizona and not know that there are stringent, clear, and detailed laws about pool enclosures?

    Here’s the law:


    And when you’re done with that, you may want to spend a minute reading about attractive nuisances. Knowing something about that corner of the law can be very useful for people who tend to shout about their liberties.

  123. Dr. Akhireh
    April 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    The issue of gun ownership/gun control will never be resolved on this or any other blog.

    This essay and the comments that follow are curious in another respect, however. The sentiment that one cannot be a good Mormon or live in an appropriate LDS home (to paraphrase the statements in the original article and the subsequent discussion) if one owns a gun or supports the rights of gun owners strikes me as antithetical to the raison d’etre of this site. In the vast majority of articles that I have read here over the past several years, one of the central themes has been that there is no “one size fits all” for members of the LDS Church. How, then, does one justify such an absolute and–frankly–extreme position if one subscribes to the notion that there is room in the gospel and the Church for disagreement?

    This sort of disdain for those who do not believe as you do strikes me as deeply disturbing. It goes beyond the “Europe vs. America” or “Wasatch Front LDS vs. the world Church” pseudo-divisions mentioned above in some of the comments. It is a fundamental inability to accept that not everyone shares the same opinion, beliefs, and interpretations of doctrine, law, faith, and politics….and that reality should not be cause for alarm in an LDS (or any other) setting. And it leads to the kind of judgmental myopia that affects every conversation on every topic, LDS or otherwise.

  124. kd
    April 22, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Perhaps people get emotional about guns because they are called “nuts” “irrational” and “insane.”

    We can debate whether owning guns is a spiritual manner or whether Christ would own a gun. I think we should all agree that He would be against the out right contempt, denigration, and name calling that occurs on both sides of the issue. I don’t think Elder Utchdorf was referring to reasonable debate when he said “Stop it.”

    BTW, since we all have to give personal disclosures on this issue, I am not a gun owner, I don’t like shooting, and I’m ok with a some gun control.

  125. DQ
    April 22, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Since I’ve come down pretty hard so far in favor of “gun rights” I thought I’d just add in the other side of the coin, that I also think the anti-nephi-lehis are the greatest example of faith in scripture, more so even than Abraham — and even more worthy of being called daft crazy than Abraham in some respects (here, kill me, rape and enslave my wife and children, even though I could prevent you, but I won’t because I believe in God and the resurrection). Part of me also believes food storage reveals a certain lack of faith.

    But, just as there are two sides to every coin, I think food storage frees me up to help others and gun ownership does the same. I’ve never actually had to share my food with someone in a natural disaster, but I’m prepared to do so if the time comes (probably never will happen). I’ve never had to defend another, but I’m prepared to do so if the time comes.

    I’ve often asked myself what I’d do if it was just my own life on the line, and I vacillate between a pacifist reaction and self-defense in behalf of my families livelihood, which would be threatened if I were no longer “here”.

    But let’s be clear, just as someone can be accused of lacking faith for believing in a rigorous preparation of self-defense, you could just as easily accuse someone of lacking faith for going to the doctor.

    The reality-based community acknowledges the benefits of science with regard to medicine and also acknowledges that deterrence works.

  126. Cameron N
    April 22, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    DQ, you perfectly articulated my feelings, and how I think he Lord sees the situation holistically. Well done.

  127. April 22, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    I am stumped trying to figure out what it means that my house is not a home. Does it mean my house is not where my heart is? Seriously, I am stumped.

  128. Pierce
    April 22, 2014 at 11:14 pm


    The reason why is because it is not in any way enforced, so nobody knows or cares that it is a law. They put up a fence if it is useful to do so. I’m sure there are plenty of laws you are not aware of because they are not enforced. I’ve lived here my whole life and spent many days in many pools that were not gated. It’s never even discussed in the countless news stories about drowning either. So my question still is, in light of that: that means nobody drowns, right?

    You showed me that there is a law in place for pool fences to prevent drowning. Yet the CDC says that the second biggest cause of death for children ages 1-4 is drowning (second only to birth defects), and that swimming pools are where this occurs the most. Your buddy John claims that a culture of pool safety exists because of the boundaries set forth by law . But these statistics say otherwise.

    I’m not interested in the rest of your smug comment since it has nothing to do with this discussion, and it doesn’t strengthen the argument that a house isn’t a home because there’s a gun in it.

  129. wonko6x9
    April 23, 2014 at 1:06 am

    I gave myself the day to mull this over so I didn’t overreact. Hopefully I convey my thoughts accurately.

    I own guns for a number of reasons, and one reason high on the list is _because_ I’m LDS.

    To understand that, you need to have some more explanation.

    One of the discussions rarely had is the why of putting the second amendment in the constitution. If you read the federalist papers (and I have) there is a significant debate going on at the time. The original weak confederacy did not work, and it became more and more obvious that without a standing federal army, the union would have no power or efficacy. The argument was that it was these armies that became the tools of the government to rule over and oppress the people. It took varying amounts of time, but it always came out that way.

    Our founders did not trust a government with guns as they would rob hard fought freedoms.

    The compromise, and note this was the second one not an afterthought, was to enshrine the populace with the ability to defend themselves from such a tyranny if and when it should arrive. Just as the other checks and balances we’re put in place, the people having arms was the check and balance it arming the government. Hunting had nothing to do with it.

    Go forward to Kirtland, then Nauvoo, then Winter Quarters, and finally the Salt Lake Valley. Not only did the US government not assist in righting the wrongs, but they were often the means of perpetuating them. Only when my ancestors stood with torches and arms ready to burn their new city to the ground, and had harassed the incoming troops into dire circumstances were the government leadership willing to talk, and finally back down.

    They came with the intent to take care of the “Mormon” problem once and for all. If you insert the word Jew for Mormon, the only difference is we had the means to resist effectively. America is the greatest and freest land in the world, and yet this still occurred here.

    I am NOT saying we should attack Washington, or any other government entity. What I am saying is we have the right, privilege and responsibility to stand firm when the government oversteps its charter, and having the means makes it far less likely that will ever need to happen. This is why the troops sent to quell the Mormons marched silently through town, finally setting up a camp in Utah County and bailed with the fist opportunity (the civil war).

    Anther point:

    Guns will never be taken from Americans. Any attempts to do so are foolish, and irrational. There are two unassailable reasons for this. First, there are an estimated 300 million small arms privately owned in the US. The military, federal, state and local police are estimated to have somewhere in the 300 thousand range. That means citizens have a thousand to one superiority in arms.

    Two, if free speech is taken away, people will yell and scream. If religious liberty is robbed of us, we will pray in our closets. If the government attempted to take guns away, by definition, they would meet armed resistance. There are not enough police or troops to effect such a plan, especially when a high proportion of them are in those positions for their very belief in an armed populous. Laws may be passed, but they would be nearly impossible to enforce as Connecticut is finding out right now.

  130. Steve Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Nathaniel (86), so Josh is wrong because of a statistic that is “impossible to measure?” Look, there is a clear correlation between guns per capita and homicides by firearm in the developed world (excluding South Africa, because of the history of apartheid there): http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2013/03/the-correlation-between-guns-and-homicide-rate.html It only makes sense that the more gun control we have, the fewer people will die because of firearms. It is as simple as that.

  131. Steve Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 2:13 am

    #129, OK, I’m tired of hearing this twisted logic that we need guns to protect ourselves from the government overstepping its bounds. Has it occurred to you that we live in an age of tanks, F-16s, nukes, and large well-trained armies under a tight chain of command? I don’t think that any Cliven Bundy-like private militia will ever be a match against that. Had the Jews in mid-twentieth century Europe owned guns and organized small militias, I’m pretty sure that there still would have been a holocaust.

    “That means citizens have a thousand to one superiority in arms.”

    And they lack any sort of cohesive military organization. If some crazy US government administration wanted to use the armed forces to completely annihilate all US gun owners, and they had the total allegiance of the armed forces, I’m pretty sure the private gun owners wouldn’t stand a chance. There are lots of reasons that governments are cautious about overstepping their bounds. But private gun ownership really isn’t one of them.

  132. wonko6x9
    April 23, 2014 at 3:19 am

    #131, “Twisted logic”?!? The bulk of my comments were based on the origin of the principles that brought us the second amendment. That there have been changes in technology and the watering down of those rights have perpetuated for the last two hundred years does not change what the original purpose was.

    I also gave a relevant example in our own LDS history where that very principle played out as the founding fathers envisioned. The populace being armed and united withstood the might of the government wrongly asserting its authority.

    Relating to your comment about “tanks, F-16s, nukes, and large well trained armies”, I ask but two questions. 1. How is it going over there in The Middle East? And 2. How many crews, commanders and grunts will be willing to turn their guns on the US populace? I, for one, am grateful we train our military to think and not be robots.

    As for Cliven Bundy, I have no knowledge of his circumstance, guilt or innocence or temple worthy status. I find it unlikely most of his supporters do either. I do believe that the rally to his support, right or wrong, is a symptom of unrest among a large group that is feeling disenfranchised in this country.

    More important, the civil disobedience in Connecticut and New York over their newly minted gun registration laws tend to show a large populace that are willing to stand on united principle. The severe lack of arrests despite the rhetoric tends to imply to me that, yes the government does indeed fear an armed populace, and they are now having to think things through differently and are reeling in shock that their passing a law didn’t just make it so. Also as predicted, large groups of law enforcement have stated they will not enforce the new laws further frustrating politicians efforts.

    Just a side note relative to my numbers: they estimate there are up to 300,000 firearms not registered in CT that should have been. There are only on the order of 3,000 law enforcement officers in the state. At 100 to 1, confiscation is not only impractical, but would be suicidal, despite armoured vehicles and ballistic vests and superior training. The attrition would be politically unviable.

    Bundy is a side show, a distraction. NY and CT are where the real interesting things are happening right now. I genuinely pray that cooler heads prevail, and have been genuinely pleased/surprised that they have so far.

    I have met your comments, but let’s at least try and keep an LDS twist on this story. There are many other boards for the remainder of this type of conversation.

  133. Steve Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

    wonko6x9, you grossly distort LDS history. The US government was never intent on trying to annihilate the Mormons. And yet you equate the Mormons with the Jews???!!! Wow. Just wow. Look, there is little use in trying to carry on a conversation with the lunatic fringe.

  134. DQ
    April 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Steve –
    -The party who lead and won the civil war referred to the Twin relics of barbarism – slavery and polygamy. The United States fought a bloody civil war over the moral boundaries a state could set for itself in slavery.
    – The US government sent an Army that even with our quasi-non-violent delaying tactics eventually arrived and would have destroyed everything if it was met with any kind of resistance in the Valley. A pacifist response “saved” the Saints in the face of a government aggressor. This speaks volumes for when it’s time to fight to submit. But it doesn’t speak volumes about trusting government when carried through to extremes.
    – Multiple unconstitutional (in retrospect) acts of Congress directed solely at removing the ability of the church and its members to continue grow, or even maintain itself.
    – Let’s not forget a direct revelation from God to the Lord’s prophet that if the church continued in its practice it would be destroyed.

    I suppose it would be unfair to equate Native Americans with Jews as well, since their means of oppression was different. But I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine a history where Mormons end up being thrown out of “their” lands and driven too and fro just like the Native Americans.

    The fact that the Indians lost, the Jews lost, and the Mormons submitted, does not mean we should remove from our future any means of self-defense. For every 10 Indians tragically killed and relocated, I like to imagine at least a few fought back, and lived to a ripe old age. I would not suggest we deny future descendants a right to resort to force, however futile, to protect themselves from a future aggressor who could very well “improve upon” the tragic actions of misguided governments of past.

  135. Pierce
    April 23, 2014 at 11:20 am

    It looks like Steve Smith has a real problem interpreting history and historical documents. For example, he seems to be unfamiliar with the second amendment and its purpose, saying that wonko is using “twisted logic” to prove that guns are necessary to balance the power of the federal government. I wonder how he interprets the second amendment aside from “we don’t stand a chance anymore so this freedom is one I’ll turn my back on and everyone else might as well too.”

    Wonko also did not grossly distort LDS history, Steve. It very well may be that you may be unfamiliar with Missouri Executive Order 44, the Mormon War of 1838, the Haun’s Mill Massacre, expulsion from Missouri, the Utah War (also known as Buchanan’s Blunder), to name a few–all carried out by some members of state militia or federal government troops. He did not use the word “annihilate”–you did. His comparison to Jews is accurate in that the state persecuted them ultimately because of their religious and cultural uniqueness, and were driven out of their lands with violence. Trying to draw that comparison any further into the extremity of how that was carried out would indeed be folly, but I didn’t see that in the post. I didn’t quite think the comparison was really necessary, but, meh. He was merely making the point that the Saints had armed themselves and the bullying by government was minimized because of it. That is part of our heritage, and a part that he still sustains through his ownership of private arms.

    “There are lots of reasons that governments are cautious about overstepping their bounds. But private gun ownership really isn’t one of them.”

    Funny enough, you quote the Cliven Bundy case–in which the violence and intimidation the federal government was using to round up a few cows ended only because of private gun ownership. Whether or not you agree with Bundy’s actions, your statement falls completely flat. Anyway, I find your complete trust that the government is cautious about overstepping its bounds to be very telling about your understanding of history and policy.

    Yet we’re the lunatics.

  136. wonko6x9
    April 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Steve, I think you may be the one enough out on the lunatic fringe that you are not willing to give, even a little where it is due. If the government was not intent on annihilating the Mormons, then what was their intent? To smother them with stuffed bunnies? Their intent was to destroy and displace, if not the Mormons then at least Mormonism itself.

    I will agree with DQ that perhaps the treatment of the Native Americans is a closer analogue. We, like them were driven from rightfully owned lands multiple times until we finally took a stand and the government had to negotiate to save face. We tried turning the other cheek, and all it did was force us into a corner. It was only when we displayed strength sufficient to stop the aggressors that negotiation became the primary tactic.

    The point is, regardless of the comparison, the treatment of the early LDS church was precisely the type of situation envisioned by the founding fathers that compelled the second amendment. We may live in a more “civilised” time, but that doesn’t make our government any less willing to step on the rights of others or it’s own citizens. The reason firearms are such a part of American culture, if only at its root, is a fundamental distrust of the government and it’s ability to oppress. If not today, then sometime in the proverbial future.

    On a slightly tangential note, a huge debt is owed by the LDS Church to Col Thomas Kane of the US Army, who at much personal sacrifice sailed around to California, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and was able to beat the troops coming across the plains so he could negotiate in behalf of both parties. Dispute the best efforts of Porter Rockwell and his compatriots to harass and winnow the troops, without Col Kane’s intervention it is very likely it would have been a shooting war, and possibly grown well out of control. Consider this my tip of the hat to a great man in whom I give the highest respect.

  137. jks
    April 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I don’t live in AZ but in reading about pool laws it looks like they only have to be fenced if there are children under 6 living in the home.

  138. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Here’s the text of the Second Amendment:

    “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.”

    Gun Advocates,

    Yes. There is a right to private gun ownership in the U.S. It is protected by the Constitution and how that Constitution has been interpreted by the Supreme Court of the U.S. Here’s the big news: Nobody in this forum is arguing that the there is not a private right to gun ownership.

    The debate in this forum (and elsewhere throughout the U.S.) is about what to do about the problems that guns cause. It is maddening to have gun advocates completely disregard the plague that guns cause our homes and country while these advocates whip themselves into a froth about “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”

    Please just acknowledge that private gun ownership comes with costs. Something like, “I have a gun in my home. It makes my home less safe than otherwise, but it’s a risk I’m willing to accept. I take safety very seriously and ensure that others in my home take safety seriously as well.” That would set the rest of us at ease.

    Walter’s post is a wee bit emotionally charged, but he’s essentially saying that there are legitimate alternative views to the Wasatch Front gun culture. From his perspective in Europe, guns make a home more dangerous. Guns are symbols of violence and a home is better off without them. (Note he didn’t say you couldn’t have a gun, but that you shouldn’t have a gun.

    If there is a future post about a legal basis for regulating the gun industry, I think that would be interesting and maybe worthwhile. We could discuss some of the limitations on who can own a gun and what types of weapons we have restricted from private ownership.

  139. Bryan S.
    April 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Josh, you would have some sort of a point if pretty much every gun advocate on this site hadn’t prefaced their comments with a paragraph about how they take gun safety very seriously and ensure that everyone in their home does as well. Obviously that’s not satisfactory enough.

  140. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you for taking gun safety seriously Bryan. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

  141. Cameron N.
    April 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Who doesn’t acknowledge that gun ownership comes with costs? We all believe that we voted in Heaven to come to a planet, get a body, and suffer. All freedom has associated costs.

    I definitely agree that Americans (yes I’ll use that term) can’t fully appreciate sensitivity to the memory of their homeland being a war zone, but at the same time, I would think our European friends can appreciate the American perception of the Neville Chamberlain attitude and it’s track record in recent EU history.

    What percentage of mass shootings have been in gun-free zones?

  142. David T
    April 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    You have to read this post in light of his other posts, and then its a lot more clear.

  143. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Cameron N.,

    Thank you for acknowledging that gun ownership comes with a cost. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

  144. Pierce
    April 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Actually, it should be stated that gun ownership comes with risk rather than cost. Cost implies that an accident WILL happen. Risk can be minimized by safety measures and responsibility.

  145. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Excellent point Pierce. I agree. How about this?

    Private gun ownership comes with a risk to the individual gun owner and a measurable, predictable cost to the society as a whole.

    Thank you Pierce.

  146. Observer
    April 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Josh Smith (#138)

    The problem with what you are asking for is that:

    1) Having a gun in MY home does not make it “less safe than otherwise” based on my risk analysis of my specific situation. You cannot take general statistics and apply them to a specific situation in a vacuum, and you have to look at the totality of the circumstances. You can’t just reduce real life down to “is there a gun in the home?” There are different risks depending on different circumstances.

    2) Guns themselves do not cause the problems that you and others have complained about. For the most part, they are people problems, not “gun” problems. For example, cities with a population over 250,000 accounted for 41% of homicides in 2012, but had only 18% of the population. Those cities combined had a homicide rate of about 10.5 per 100,000, while the rest of the country combined had a homicide rate of about 3.2 per 100,000.

    That suggests that the vast majority of the problem is centered in larger cities. In fact, studies have shown that the majority of murderers had prior criminal records (often to a degree that they already could not legally possess a firearm under current law).

    3) Walter wasn’t simply expressing a “legitimate alternative view”. He spoke in rather absolutist terms. Contrast that with what the relatively pro-gun people here have said. None of us have claimed that anyone should be required to own or handle a gun. We haven’t said anything like “A house without a gun is not a home”. We’ve offered a very pluralistic philosophy, that each person be able to decide for himself whether owning and/or carrying a firearm is right for them.

    Walter’s view, as expressed, would seek to impose restrictions and obligations on others. Our view does not seek to impose anything on anyone.

  147. Raymond Takashi Swenson
    April 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    My grandmother was adopted because a child of my great-grandparents was killed in a gun accident involving other children in their home. But it was then, and is still, much more common for children to die from drowning (in bathtubs and irrigation canals more than swimming pools), from poisoning (medications or cleaners or pesticides or severe allergic reactions), from electric shock, from falls, from fires, from carbon monoxide, from auto accidents, and from animals (including neighbors’ dogs). These are hazards we take precautions against, such as by putting gates on stairs, securing cleaners, putting caps on medications, having smoke and CO detectors, strapping children into safety seats, and not leaving them unattended in the bath or when they are playing outside. We don’t have to give up irrigation, running water, medications, pesticides, cleaners, electricity, natural gas, or automobiles because the benefits are clear and in fact, used with intelligence, they benefit and even save lives.

    The same is true of firearms. My son-in-law hunts for some of the meat that feeds his family. The ability to get a police officer to your home to defend you against a break-in is a matter of minutes, not seconds, and being able to defend yourself can make a difference between life and death. There are still lots of Americans who live half an hour from a response by law enforcement.

    The hypocrisy of celebrities and politicians who condemn ownership of firearms by ordinary Americans, while they have their own armed security guards, is galling. The children of President Obama attend a private school that has armed guards, in addition to the Secret Service agents who guard his daughters. At the new school where the Sandy Hook children attend now, there are armed security guards to reassure the children that they need not fear another attack. Any school that does not provide real security against insane people attacking the children is simply relying on the low probability that such an attack will happen, and spending money on other things. We place armed security guards, x-ray scanners and metal detectors in our courthouses and other government buildings, including the Capitol in Washington, DC. We know how to guard against attackers in those places, but we are generally unwilling to pay for security that works for our schools. We should at least acknowledge that, since armed defenders are reasonable in those places, it is also reasonable in our own homes. And fortunately the Supreme Court did that is its recent rulings affirming the plain language of the Second Amendment, that the right to keep and bear arms belongs, as it says, to “the people”.

  148. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Observer (#146):

    (1) Having a gun in MY home does not make it “less safe than otherwise” based on my risk analysis of my specific situation.

    Obviously. You’ve made the choice to have a gun; you obviously have it because you feel safer than if you didn’t have it. Maybe you’re right. Then again, others just like you have made a choice just like you and turned out to be very, very wrong.

    (2) Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.

    I don’t know why people keep repeating this. It’s not like its repetition is going to make it any more persuasive. Isn’t the issue really that people with guns kill other people more efficiently than people without guns? The following thought experiment usually inoculates the would-be gun advocate from repeating the “Guns don’t kill people …” mantra:

    Is there anyone you know who should not be allowed to own a gun? For example, do you know any convicted felons? mentally ill? those convicted of domestic abuse? those with warrants out for their arrest? children? those with addictions to illegal drugs or prescription pain meds? those with suicidal ideations?

    I’m guessing there is some group of people who you would forbid from owning a gun. Why? Because guns are a very efficient way to kill.

    I’m indifferent about your comment #3. Maybe Walter was inflammatory. To his defense, this is a blog, and that’s what blogs are for. And, he didn’t bring up the Nazis. I could be wrong, but I thing it was gun contingency that first brought up the Nazis. :-) Let’s just say you’re right on #3 and move on.

  149. Pierce
    April 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm


    That statement is agreeable, but comes with strings attached. Ultimately, as Observer pointed out, what is most relevant to Americans is the individual, since the individual has the most influence over their situation. And it is like that for many things outside of gun ownership.

    It’s what your statement leads to is what causes a split. Some feel the need to “do something” about the cost to society (a fairly loose term–is this a neighborhood, business park, city, state, all 50 states?) On the other hand, the other side says that many things are risks to individuals, and are more costly to society as a whole, such as tubs and pools, which accounts for the most accidental deaths in ages 1-4.

  150. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Pierce (#149):

    Tubs and pools are good examples of useful things that impose costs to society. So are stairs and sidewalks. In our litigious society we create civil liability around objects that cause dangers to people other than the owners.

    So, for example, if someone falls off your front step and snaps a coccyx, that person can call a Slip-and-Fall Lawyer. They even have a name! Insurance companies are called, medical bills are paid for, emotional pain and suffering is appeased, and the world continues. We could do examples with other things that are useful and sometimes lethal, like cars.

    What about civil liability for gun owners as well? An insurance industry could build up around gun ownership liability. People could pay monthly premiums to have their guns insured, kind of like other dangerous things, like cars. That would help with the costs that guns impose on society, which we both agree is the case.

  151. Bryan S.
    April 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    “Guns don’t kill people”

    I agree the mantra is old and missing the point. It’s not any better than this mantra that was repeated many times in the OP, “Guns make people kill”.

    Both miss the point. Guns allow people to kill living entities more efficiently than many other objects.

  152. Steve Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Pierce, DQ, let’s go back to wonko’s comment:

    “Go forward to Kirtland, then Nauvoo, then Winter Quarters, and finally the Salt Lake Valley. Not only did the US government not assist in righting the wrongs, but they were often the means of perpetuating them. Only when my ancestors stood with torches and arms ready to burn their new city to the ground, and had harassed the incoming troops into dire circumstances were the government leadership willing to talk, and finally back down. They came with the intent to take care of the “Mormon” problem once and for all. If you insert the word Jew for Mormon, the only difference is we had the means to resist effectively.”

    He really believes the Mormons only survived because they had guns and strongly (oh, so very strongly) suggests that the Mormons would have ended up like the Jews in central Europe had they not had guns. He isn’t just talking about the Extermination Order (and guns didn’t do the Mormons a whole lot of good in Missouri. If anything, their possession of guns just fueled the flames against them), he is suggesting that the Mormons were under threat of extermination wherever they went, and the exterminators only held back their extermination impulses because the Mormons had guns.

    Plus, wonko (an oddly fitting name) now acknowledges that he was indeed trying to say that the US government was trying to “annihilate” the Mormons: “If the government was not intent on annihilating the Mormons, then what was their intent? To smother them with stuffed bunnies? Their intent was to destroy and displace, if not the Mormons then at least Mormonism itself.” See? Nut job. You can’t convince a 9/11 truther that 19 Arabs were behind 9/11.

    As for the Native Americans, they had guns, and it didn’t do them a whole lot of good. So this idea that we owe our individual freedoms to private gun ownership doesn’t quite work. God is God, not the gun. But far too many unfortunately confuse the gun for a deity.

  153. Steve Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    “It looks like Steve Smith has a real problem interpreting history and historical documents. For example, he seems to be unfamiliar with the second amendment and its purpose, saying that wonko is using “twisted logic” to prove that guns are necessary to balance the power of the federal government.”

    Again, private gun ownership does not balance the power of the federal government. This idea is absolute lunacy. The US federal government does not feel threatened one iota by private gun ownership. And in other developed countries where private gun ownership is illegal, the people enjoy the protection of about as many individual freedoms (except the right to own a gun) as we do here in the US. The Japanese and Dutch don’t seem to be very downtrodden and oppressed by their governments to me.

  154. Tim
    April 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Raymond lists a great number of things that pose risks to children. The difference between those and guns? Other risks have protection laws put up around them. Medications are sold with child-proof lids, children are required to ride in car seats, landlords are required to put in working smoke detectors. But with guns, there’s no law about keeping one loaded and unlocked, even in a home where children live. Any hint of such law is met by resistance by the NRA and other gun extremists.

    In addition, obviously a president’s children face a much greater risk of danger than the average child. The chance that increased security will protect children at their school is significantly higher than that increased security will protect children at my school. Putting an armed guard inside every school is not the answer, and anyone with a decent understanding of how much teachers in states like Utah are paid should realize that the money to place armed guards inside every school is just not there. Even if it were, it would be of better use in hiring another teacher to decrease huge class sizes.

  155. Observer
    April 23, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Josh Smith (#148)

    You asked, “Is there anyone you know who should not be allowed to own a gun? For example, do you know any convicted felons? mentally ill? those convicted of domestic abuse? those with warrants out for their arrest? children? those with addictions to illegal drugs or prescription pain meds? those with suicidal ideations?”

    My answer to that is simple: the only people who should ever be denied any fundamental rights are those who have been properly adjudicated as a danger to society, and then only for as long as they are actually considered a danger to society. I oppose such things as requiring psychological evaluations in order to exercise a fundamental right, because that doesn’t provide any sort of “due process”.

    But, there are problems with each of the groups that you listed. For example, you listed “convicted felons”, but not all felonies are violent. You can be convicted of a felony for something as simple as purchasing lobsters that are shipped in clear plastic bags (as happened to Diane Huang in 2003). You mention “those convicted of domestic abuse”, but you can get such a conviction in some states for as little as raising your voice at your spouse. In the case of those with warrants out for their arrest, you can get a warrant for something as simple as not paying a parking ticket (and even then the warrant can be issued without your knowing about it for years).

    In the case of convicted felons, even for violent felonies, if they are considered a danger to society, then why are they allowed to go free? If someone is mentally ill to the point that they might be a danger to themselves or others, why are they not placed in an institution and monitored until they are no longer a danger? As far as children go, shouldn’t that be left up to their parents, who know them best and are legally empowered to make decisions for them?

    The short version is that if someone isn’t so dangerous that they should be removed from society (in one way or another), then what basis is there to restrict their fundamental rights, including the right to defend themselves?

  156. Pierce
    April 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm


    “In our litigious society we create civil liability around objects that cause dangers to people other than the owners.”

    For one, this is a generous statement. There is not a general fund that covers all people (who may or may not be insured) for all circumstances in which accidents happen. Secondly, this has nothing to do with the fact that at the end of the day, there are still children and others who are dead. When you were talking about cost, I did not know you would steer into monetary costs. I’m not really interested in discussing that because it doesn’t deal with the topic. FWIW, some companies are indeed starting to sell firearm insurance.

  157. Pierce
    April 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm


    I don’t see how Wonko’s point is moot. You tell me what an extermination order means, and why an army goes on a warpath and marches on a group of people with weaponry. Just because annihilation was subverted, doesn’t mean that intent wasn’t there or that it wasn’t a possibility. Anyway, I’m not so interested in the comparison to Jews. I personally take his comparison insofar as I stated, and if he is more extreme in his views than I am, then I will let him speak for himself. I think we both may agree that it wasn’t guns that brought about a resolution to the Utah War, but wouldn’t you agree that the sovereignty of the Mormons and their militia may have caused Buchanan to think twice about how far he was willing to go? Wouldn’t you agree that it’s at least a possibility, is unquantifiable, and thus grounds for someone to form an opinion about it? I do.

    “Again, private gun ownership does not balance the power of the federal government. This idea is absolute lunacy.”

    You still have yet to explain the second amendment. You are calling the Constitution a piece of lunacy, which really doesn’t do anything for your credibility here. The real issue with you is not whether or not an armed person is better prepared to stand against an evil government than someone with rocks (duh), but that you believe this would/should never happen. You would have fit right in with the Loyalists in the colonies.

    “The US federal government does not feel threatened one iota by private gun ownership.”

    Allow me to illustrate a very recent example that you glossed over in my previous comments with a quote by a BLM director concerning the Bundy standoff. Just to reiterate, whether or not you agree with Bundy doesn’t matter:

    “Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze.

    That to me sounds like at least one iota, wouldn’t you say?


  158. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Observer (#155): This is a constructive debate. Thank you. Let this be an example that people can in fact move beyond the guns/no-guns shouting match. Hat tip to Mark for starting a dialog, even if the original post was an inflammatory European post. :-)

    Those on probation and parole are prohibited from possessing or using guns. That is, the convict is still under the jurisdiction of the board of corrections or the sentencing court, so restrictions may be placed on the individual as a condition of the individual’s freedom. Some common conditions of parole or probation include peeing in cups on demand, not being in contact with children, not leaving a geographical area, not possessing or use firearms, etc. Hopefully we agree that these are people who can be deprived of the right to own a gun–hell, they could still be in prison, right? They’re lucky to be out. Certainly it is legitimate use of law to place restrictions on a convict’s freedom.

    What about the individual with the warrant for arrest? The warrant says an officer can deprive the individual of freedom. Observer, is it your position that this person preserves some fundamental right to purchase a gun, yet, if found out on the street this person could be handcuffed and tossed in jail? Maybe we should add an addition to the Miranda warning: You have the right to remain silent, have a right to an attorney, have a right to a free attorney, oh and by the way you have a right to purchase a gun? Nope. There is no problem prohibiting gun ownership to people with warrants. They can remain silent, but they don’t get guns.

    As to the issue of gun ownership based on capacity of the individual to appreciate the dangers of the gun (children, mentally ill, Glenn Beck followers) …

    The Second Amendment does not automatically extend to children and the mentally ill. Capacity is a requirement for many of the rights under the Bill of Rights. We can discuss further if you’d like.

    At least one thing we can do is extend liability for these individuals to their caregivers, no? Is it reasonable to you that an incapacitated person’s caregiver be vicariously liable for any damages caused by the incapacitated person? That is, parents are liable when their children hurt others with guns?

    Again, thanks for the thoughtful discussion. Others please feel free to join.

  159. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Pierce (#156): It sounds like you have strong objections to using government regulation to solve some of our gun violence problems, but maybe you’re open to using civil law to regulate gun ownership?

    (I strongly disagree with your Second Amendment argument, but I’m looking for some common ground.)

  160. Pierce
    April 23, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    What’s my Second Amendment argument? That it exists? ;-)
    I do have strong objections to a federal government regulating firearms, since 1. it’s not its job to do that 2. it defeats the purpose of the second amendment, and not everyone is ready to give complete control over to the government (except Steve) 3. it is not in my best interest to do so. State governments I would be more inclined to support, except in cases where they ban firearms altogether.

    I would have to hear some examples about civil law, but I’ll just say right now I’m not too interested in following your tangent. The claim is “a house with a gun is not a home” and how it relates to LDS people. Regulation is not really relevant.

  161. Observer
    April 23, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Josh Smith (#158)

    You seem to have a cop show education on how the legal system works. It’s far from accurate.

    For example, there is a difference between being legally allowed to buy a gun, being legally allowed to own a gun, and being legally allowed to possess a gun. The three are not the same, and if we were to treat them as the same, you are advocating some serious violations of people’s due process rights.

    Let’s use an example from current law. Under federal law, a federally-licensed firearms dealer cannot sell a handgun to a person under the age of 21. However, also under federal law, a person under the age of 18 cannot own a gun (except for certain exemptions). Federal law also places restrictions on who may possess (as in have physical control over) a gun.

    The result of this is that it is legal for a 19-year old to buy a handgun in a private sale (from another resident of the same state, assuming the state law allows it), but they cannot buy one from a licensed dealer. They could also receive one as a gift (again, depending on state law). Similarly, someone convicted of a drug offense can still own a gun, but they cannot legally purchase one from a dealer, nor can they possess it. (Similar to how a person can own a car but not be legally allowed to drive.)

    The problem with using an arrest warrant as the basis to deny someone their rights is that a warrant as a very low threshold of due process. To use one example from Virginia, there was a man arrested for “brandishing” a firearm, because he was simply wearing one in a holster on his belt (which is legal), and pointed his finger at someone else during a discussion. That other person later went to a magistrate and swore out a warrant against him, and a couple of days later he was arrested at his home in another county. (In the end, he beat the brandishing charge because his actions didn’t constitute a threat to anyone else.)

    All it took was one person’s word to a magistrate to get the warrant issued. From that point, you would have him deprived of his rights simply because another person claimed he had violated the law. In our system of laws, a warrant only requires “probable cause” to be issued. Conviction requires “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which is a much higher standard.

  162. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm


    Distinction between ownership, possession, and purchasing. Important. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Otherwise I’m not seeing the type of flexibility I was expecting Observer. It’s likely my fault.

    Are there any people who should be prohibited from owning a gun?
    Are there any people who should be prohibited from possessing a gun?
    Are there any people who should be prohibited from purchasing a gun?

    Admittedly, I thought I made a good point with the felons on parole or probation, the folks with warrants, and the mentally ill.

    Against my better judgment, I’ll go ahead and ask: What about people in prison? Not the dangerous felons, just the not dangerous ones. Let’s say Lobster Lady ends up in prison. Can she own, possess, or purchase a gun while in prison?

  163. Observer
    April 23, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    As far as current law exists, anyone can own a gun, but certain people are prohibited from either possessing or purchasing one. The specific (federal) restrictions are found in 18 USC 922 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922). Specifically look at 18 USC 922(d) and (g). It would take too long for me to summarize everything, and such summaries are widely available elsewhere online.

    Personally, the only people I believe should be denied the ability to possess a gun are those who have been adjudicated a threat to others. If someone is under indictment and present a threat, then they should not be released from custody. (I don’t have an issue with denial of possession while they are in custody, simply for practical concerns.)

    At the same time, if an adult can legally possess a gun, then they should be able to buy one. Period.

    As for children, as I said before, that is something that I would leave up to their parents to decide. I am strongly considering building (including manufacturing from bare metal some of the parts – remember, my hobbies include gunsmithing) firearms for my children when they get older and they prove to me that they can be responsible with them. That doesn’t mean that I will let them do whatever they want with them, any more than I would let my children do whatever they want with a pocketknife or other tool.

  164. Josh Smith
    April 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Personally, the only people I believe should be denied the ability to possess a gun are those who have been adjudicated a threat to others.

    Under your schema, surely we get an efficient background check system, no? At least some way to figure out if the person purchasing the gun has been “adjudicated a threat to others”? Maybe we have some regulations in place as to private sellers, gun shows? Something? Anything?

    At the same time, if an adult can legally possess a gun, then they should be able to buy one. Period.

    Period? Really? Are you sure there’s no one on God’s green earth who may legally possess a gun, but should not be allowed to purchase one? I’m still worried about all those little rascals with the warrants (among others). You’re going to condemn us to live in a society where folks with warrants for murder can buy a gun?

    I’m suffering Observer. I’m going to have to capitulate and join Mark in the Netherlands in a minute. Give me something pal.

  165. wonko6x9
    April 24, 2014 at 12:01 am


    I will respond to the following comment, and then most likely tune you out.

    You said “He really believes the Mormons only survived because they had guns and strongly (oh, so very strongly) suggests that the Mormons would have ended up like the Jews in central Europe had they not had guns. He isn’t just talking about the Extermination Order (and guns didn’t do the Mormons a whole lot of good in Missouri. If anything, their possession of guns just fueled the flames against them), he is suggesting that the Mormons were under threat of extermination wherever they went, and the exterminators only held back their extermination impulses because the Mormons had guns.”

    I will set aside the name calling and other personal attacks.

    I didn’t feel it necessary to list all of the offences perpetuated upon the early saints in detail due to the audience of this blog. As members of the LDS faith, one should be aware of these trials at least in passing. In an LDS blog comment, it should be redundant. This context is very important in both my comments, and the reactions of the saints in Salt Lake as the troops approached. Regardless of weather you think the government would have “annihilated” them or not (you were the one to introduce the term, by the way) they had good reason to believe that was exactly what was intended. I have journal entries from another ancestor in St Louis who was listening to the talk among the troops as they mustered there and they would certainly lead one to believe that at least the rank and file soldiers were under that impression too. As his family was still in the valley (he was returning from a mission) he was justifiably distressed by the rhetoric and rumours he heard.

    As to the comparison with the Jews, I could argue it in detail, but frankly it has so little to do with the original point of my post, I am going to let it drop. What you have yet to concede is that the founders foresaw tyranny in an armed government, and our ancestors are case one that they were correct in this. Their guns didn’t “fan the flames against them”. You are projecting modern sentiments on a past people.

    They didn’t hold back because of their guns, but how many more lynchings, tarring and featherings, murders and rapes would have occurred?

    Gun ownership is both a right and a responsibility. They should be properly secured, weather at home or in a holster. If more time was spent on gun safety rather than attacking gun owners, perhaps that reduction in accidents we all desire would come to pass.

    Finally calling those who stand for gun ownership fanatics is dismissive, small and completely wrong. At the lowest in the area of 40% of the US agrees with it and in recent months the numbers are actually over 60%. Neither of those figures are “fringe”. They may disagree with you, but there is nothing “fringe” about that opinion. Belittling it says far more about you than them.

  166. Observer
    April 24, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Josh Smith (#164)

    If someone is adjudicated a threat to others, then they shouldn’t be free to move about our society. If a convicted criminal is still a danger, then he shouldn’t be released from prison on probation or parole. If a mentally ill person is a danger to others, then he shouldn’t be discharged from medical care. Why is that basic principle so hard to understand?

    As for the warrants issue, what part of “due process” do you not understand? All it takes to have a warrant issued is a “credible” allegation of wrongdoing. You’ve narrowed it to “warrants for murder”, but where exactly are you going to draw the line?

    If you look at 18 USC 922(d) that I linked to, even they don’t unilaterally strip someone of their rights because of a warrant or protective order. It requires that any order be “issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had the opportunity to participate”, and that the hearing/order specifically find that the person is a credible threat to their intimate partner or child. It requires an adversarial setting, where a person is allowed to defend themselves before they can be stripped of their rights. You would strip them of that and deny them their rights without any such protections.

    If you are legally allowed to possess a gun, then why shouldn’t you be allowed to purchase one? Give me one, good reason why there should be a difference between the two standards? Otherwise, you are just saying “you can have one, but you can’t have one.” It’s just not logically consistent.

  167. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

    This is my last comment.

    The original post, in a very provocative way, asked the question, When can we say “Enough is enough”? Well, Mark, I’ve done a bit of leg work and I’m closer to an answer.

    Question: When can we say, “Enough is enough”?

    Gun Advocate: Enough is enough when private citizens can mount a credible defense against their government, even if the private citizen requires 21st-century weaponry to compete with the greatest military power the world has ever known. (Note that we didn’t plumb the depths of this line of thinking. We’re not sure if this includes private ownership of nuclear weapons, but maybe we can all take a guess. We’re also not sure when a private citizen is authorized to use force against his own government, but “Cliven Bundy” was given as an example. Presumably the private citizen can use force whenever he is made to obey a law he disagrees with.)

    Gun Advocate: Enough is enough when everyone can possess and purchase a gun without any background checks.

    Gun Advocate: Enough is enough when convicted felons on parole or probation can purchase and possess a gun, without any questions asked.

    Gun Advocate: Enough is enough when an individual with a warrant out for his arrest can freely purchase a gun.

    Gun Advocate: Enough is enough when children can purchase and possess guns, so long as it’s okay with their parents.

    Gun Advocate: Enough is enough when the mentally ill can purchase and possess weapons. If they’re not locked up, then they can have a gun.

    Basically, Mark, enough will never be enough for Gun Advocate. I bet you didn’t see that one coming.

    Regardless of how Gun Advocate feels about the emotional tenor of the original post, Mark has made his point loud and clear.

    Attitudes about guns are learned behavior from our culture. There is nothing “holy” or “doctrinal” about guns. Our attitudes about guns do not come from God or the Gospel; our attitudes come from the place of our birth.

  168. DW
    April 24, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Re Nathaniel #51: “denouncing the private home life of millions of fellow Mormons…”

    Millions? I highly doubt that. Most American Mormons I have known do not own a gun. Hundred thousand, tops, if I had to wager (but that’s just a shot in the dark).

  169. Observer
    April 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Josh Smith (#167)

    I find it interesting that you have completely ignored the core of my arguments. I haven’t talked as much about a right to have a gun, as much as I have focused on due process for denying that right.

    Many of the things that you support would treat individuals like a criminal when they had either not had any chance to contest the accusation, or haven’t been proven to have done anything. Similarly, if a person has “paid their debt to society”, why should they not be received back into full rights of citizenship? If a person is too dangerous to allow them to possess a gun, then why are they still legally allowed to possess other weapons (such as knives, clubs, or even bows and arrows)?

    For example, there have been proposals to ban anyone on a “Terror Watchlist” from being allowed to buy guns. On the face of it, that might seem like a good idea (after all, if they are a suspected terrorist, we wouldn’t want them to get guns, right?). However, that becomes extremely problematic for due process reasons when you consider that people are placed on those watchlists without any notification (we don’t want to warn the terrorists that we’re on to them), often by mistake because of similarities between their name and someone else’s, and it is virtually impossible to get your name removed. Remember Senator Kennedy? He wound up on one of those lists, and it caused problems for him trying to fly home to Massachusetts on a regular basis. Since those watchlists have been used, only one person has been able to get their name removed from the watchlist through a judicial challenge.

    Due process rights form the fundamental structure of our justice system. They are the key reason that people are presumed innocent, and have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You can’t just throw them out the window because you don’t like that someone else might abuse their rights.

  170. Pierce
    April 24, 2014 at 10:36 am


    You haven’t known all of the Mormons that have come before who owned guns, which I think surpassed 100,000 a long time ago. That number would even include Joseph Smith, who owned guns, created a militia, and used a brace of pistols at Carthage. Good luck convincing me that he wasn’t a good Mormon, by the way.

  171. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Observer (#169):

    This conversation isn’t about your interpretation of the Constitution or existing state or federal law. I’m not asking you questions in order to learn what the law is. State and federal law prohibits almost everything I’ve suggested to you in this thread, even the bit about those on parole and those with warrants and children and the mentally ill and those with outstanding protective orders.

    I’m not debating you to find out about your view of the law. I just wanted to see how far you would go. I gave up. No matter how far we marched into guns-gone-wild land, you marched on undeterred. So I gave up. You marched much further than I thought you would. Have a great day.

  172. Observer
    April 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Josh Smith (#171)

    Neither am I debating you about my interpretation of the Constitution or current federal law (state law is too varied for us to even try to discuss here). In fact, several of the things that I mentioned don’t match up with current federal law.

    What I am discussing is one of the key underlying principles of our society (indeed, of almost all of western civilization). Due process isn’t just some catchphrase.

    But due process is one of the clearest lines that I draw on this and many other issues. Many of your suggestions blatantly throw due process out the window, by prohibiting someone without any forewarning to them or real opportunity to challenge the prohibition before it is enforced against them. If a person has been adjudicated to be a threat to society, then they should be removed from society until they are no longer a threat. In general, if a person is part of society, then they should not have extra restrictions placed upon them.

    That covers convicted felons, the mentally ill, and almost every other case you brought up. The only one it doesn’t really cover is children, and there I simply default to letting the parents decide, just like we do with any number of other issue involving children.

    I don’t see what is so hard for you to understand about any of that.

  173. Pierce
    April 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I too find it interesting that Josh decided to sidestep everything we’ve been discussing and set up a final strawman post. I don’t know that I have seen a majority (or even any) of gun owners who endorse his caricature of what we have actually been discussing, an example being children being allowed to purchase a firearm.

    Perhaps his biggest caricature is found here:

    “There is nothing “holy” or “doctrinal” about guns. Our attitudes about guns do not come from God or the Gospel; our attitudes come from the place of our birth.”

    I personally don’t know anyone who calls a gun a holy thing, or that it is doctrinal to own one. In fact, Observers past comments were that gun advocates generally have not made the case that every house SHOULD have a gun in it. If something is doctrinal, then it usually applies to all. Josh’s comment is a strawman. Nobody here claims that the message taught by Christ is to use guns to kill people. There are a lot of things that are a part of this world that God has not spoken about specifically. Instead, he has taught us principles and has left us to live by them the best way that we can.

    A principle that directs this discussion would be this: a father is to “provide the necessities of life and protection for their families” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). That is the teaching that comes from God, as Josh would put it. How a father (or mother, etc.) chooses to do that is going to vary from person to person, place to place, and situation to situation. A man may choose to protect himself with a club, reliance on another person with a gun (police), a dog, or a security system, and to rely on pacifism or physical prowess outside the home. But another may choose to meet an immediate threat with a gun (which police use), and even extend that protection to themselves and their neighbors in the public sphere. Are both living by that principle taught in the Proclamation? Yes, even if they disagree with each other on how it is carried out. But if a man is not responsible with his method of protection, then he is not living by that principle. This could mean anything from irresponsible gun storage, to a dog that could attack a child, to simply taking no precautions at all.

    Perhaps the need to fall back on rhetoric and fallacies are telling. Disappointing.

  174. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Pierce (#173):

    Maybe you’re right. My comment (#167) does sound like it could be a caricature. How have I misconstrued the Gun Advocate’s position?

    (Assume I agree with all you’ve said about the Proclamation. Also assume we agree that attitudes about guns are cultural.)

    Observer (#172):

    In truth, I spend too much time trying to figure out what procedure is due–I’d be a happier, healthier individual if I spent less time thinking about due process.

    How much process is due before we can say someone cannot purchase a gun? Obviously a warrant is insufficient for you, though warrants are all the process that is due to arrest and search (though certainly not all the process due for permanent incarceration). How much process to restrict a gun purchase? And why?

    Really, the big question is why you think the right to own a gun is absolute? Why isn’t it sufficient for you that there is compelling state interest in keeping guns out of the hands of some individuals?

    Convicted felons are wonderful examples. Clearly these are individuals who have demonstrated a lack of judgment. Clearly the state has a compelling state interest in prohibiting them from having guns. Why are you so eager to give a convicted felon a gun? And don’t tell me it’s your commitment to due process. Convicted felons have received years of due process.

  175. Observer
    April 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Josh Smith (#174)

    Did you read up on any of my examples that I gave you? With modern browsers, it’s as simple as highlight, right click, and search.

    Not all convicted felons are a danger to society. Again, read up on the story of Diane Huang. You can read about it here: http://www.threefeloniesaday.com/Youtoo/tabid/86/Default.aspx#Lacey

    Should someone like that be denied a basic right for life (the most effective means of self defense) because they were found guilty of violating a law meant to enforce foreign law (which wasn’t even in effect at the time according to the foreign government)? Is someone who is convicted of insider trading such a danger to society that they should be denied access to firearms? What does one of those have to do with the other?

    Even if we look at violent felons, if they are still a danger to society such that they should be denied firearms, why are they not also denied knives, clubs, cars, bows and arrow, or any number of other potential weapons? If they are too dangerous to trust in such a way, why are they not too dangerous to keep incarcerated?

    It’s logically inconsistent to say “we can’t trust a felon with guns”, but then allow them to have access to any number of other weapons. If a felon would be a danger to others with a gun, then he would be a danger to others with a knife or other weapon. If you can trust them with those other weapons, then why not a gun? If you can’t trust them with those other weapons, then why are they free in the first place? And why don’t I see you (or anyone else) calling to prohibit their access to knives or clubs?

  176. Pierce
    April 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    For one, not all gun advocates believe a child should able to walk into a store and buy .45 all by their lonesome.
    Two, to throw nukes into the discussion is absurd. If our country is using nukes on us, then nothing is going to matter. Nobody here is talking about an arms race against the government. But to deny the principle that the second amendment is based on is a private choice, and one you are welcome to. But you are the anomaly, not us, and not history.
    Three, according to a recent poll used by CNN (which is very liberal and the piece that I got this from is especially so), a majority of gun owners are in favor of background checks:

    “Americans indicated that they support universal background checks by a margin of 91% to 8%. Even in households with guns, the margin was an overwhelming 88% to 11%.”

    Even your point about felons was addressed, and Observer’s beliefs on it came with a long explanation to qualify it which was disregarded with your blanket statement that felons can purchase firearms “without any questions asked.” Yet Observer did ask the question in a sense with his statement that “not all felonies are violent.” And while I agree with him about almost everything else, I don’t necessarily agree that just because a violent criminal has been released from jail, it doesn’t mean he no longer has the potential for violence and should be able to freely purchase a gun. Do you see how complicated this gets, and that your uncomplicated proclamation to Mark is completely off the mark?

    I could make a similar list of caricatures, but what good is that? I could say you deny the wisdom the Constitution, that you believe in guns only when police have them, that a gun is not adequate for protection, etc. But these don’t really represent your individual outlook.

    The point is, you cannot represent everyone in little bullet points, and your statement is so general that it avoids all of the particulars that we’ve been discussing.

  177. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Observer, we have to stop. Really. We have to be done.

    The right to bear arms is a fundamental right, but, not an absolute right. That is, guns can be regulated when there’s a compelling state interest.

    Until we agree on that, we’re wasting each other’s time.

  178. DQ
    April 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Just watched one of those videos going around the net where a police officer is getting aggressive with a citizen who is filming them. The police officer confiscates the phone and handcuffs the citizen because she “feared for her safey”. Put aside, that when you really fear for your safety you retreat, I have to assume that a theoretical tyrannical government would have a lot more to fear if the one with the phone also had a weapon. What really is fear-inducing to government employees who are just doing a job, is private citizens who would die for principle.

    I realize not everyone thinks this way or feels that way. But our nation or or freedoms would not exist without those who did. I’m eternally grateful, for those who have put their lives where their ideals are, and I won’t belittle their actions in the past, by dismissing those who follow their example in the present.

  179. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Pierce (#176):

    I agree with you. By golly, I agree with you. You are sane and good and wholesome. If you’re anywhere near Idaho Falls, I’ll buy you lunch. :-)

    You are committed to both the Second Amendment and common sense. Hat tip to you.

  180. Pierce
    April 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm


    You would be hard-pressed to find support for the idea that violent criminals who have been released from jail should automatically have access to firearms. Prison is meant to be a punishment for a crime (which is why there is a prison sentence based on the crime), and to separate that person from society. Prison is not meant to be a permanent residence for those who just have a potential for violence. Due process, eh? Same goes with the mentally ill. You have a good understanding of due process, so a person whom a mental health professional deems as “unstable” shouldn’t automatically be locked up (you would be surprised how many people are medicated or going through therapy), but probably should not be able to go out and purchase a firearm either until they are fit for it.

    For a normal, non-violent person, a gun is a tool like other tools. Knives, bats etc. are meant to be used for other things, like making salad or playing ball with a kid. But guns are made to kill people, so they need to be viewed differently. It is the most effective means for defense. But it is also the most effective means for offense, so the way we view them should change when we shift into a discussion of violent criminals, mental illness, or even children.

  181. Pierce
    April 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm


    Well thank you buddy. You might find that most are :-)

    DQ (#178),

    You articulated well how I feel. It does make a difference. Most people don’t call Washington, Adams, and Jefferson a nutjob on the fringe, so they should really withold judgment and try to consider the possibility that government grows and oversteps its bounds, and at some point, it should meet resistance. What that point is cannot be predetermined or judged casually.

    Although I will say that some people really are nutjobs.

  182. Observer
    April 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Josh Smith (#177)

    Where have I said anything about it being an absolute right? You are simply projecting comments onto my words, not responding to what I actually say.

    What I have said is that as a fundamental right, it should only be denied after the strictest due process, and that in general if a person is too dangerous to be allowed to possess guns, then they are too dangerous to be free in society. That is a far cry from saying that it is “absolute”.

    If anything, I treat the Second Amendment much like the First. A person can’t be denied their right to free speech for life simply because they were committed of a felony, although their right to free speech can be restricted while they are incarcerated. Similarly, they do not lose their other First Amendment rights, even if they can be restricted for a time.

    That doesn’t mean that it is unregulated, but that any regulation requires very strict scrutiny.

    I don’t have a problem with background checks in and of themselves, but I have serious issues with every “universal background check” proposal I’ve seen. (For example, some proposals use definitions that would make it illegal for me to hand my gun to my wife to try at the range without having a background check performed as I hand it to her and then again as she hands it back to me.)

    I don’t have a significant problem with registration of full-automatic weapons (as has been in place since 1934), but I have a problem with closing the registry (as happened in 1986), and the heightened restrictions on silencers (which are actually fairly loosely regulated in other parts of the world, such a Europe).

    I do have a problem with “assault weapons bans” that base their criteria on irrelevant, cosmetic features. I also have problems with arbitrary magazine limits (as there is no functional difference between a magazine that holds 10 rounds and one that holds 30 rounds, and a trained shooter can change magazines extremely fast).

    In other words, your entire argument has not been with my position, but with a straw man that you’ve set up to avoid my actual position.

  183. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm


    Observer (#182): Oh my goodness. I must have misread your posts all along. That’s embarrassing for me.

    It looks like we agree that the right to own a gun is a fundamental right, not an absolute right, and that it can be regulated by the government. That means any regulation must have a compelling state interest.

    We agree that states have a compelling state interest to conduct background checks.

    We’re on a roll. Let’s see where we end up …

    What should we look for in a background check? I’ll go first …

    1. Let’s see if the applicant has a felony conviction.

    Okay. Now it’s your turn.

    2. …

  184. Observer
    April 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Josh Smith (#183)

    Why don’t you try showing me that you are looking to address my actual positions first, rather than the repeated straw man arguments you’ve presented so far?

    At this point, you haven’t given me any reason to believe that you are actually willing to discuss this in good faith. So far, you’ve cherry-picked (including in this last post) from what I wrote and avoided the meat of my comments in order to focus only on your own narrative.

  185. Josh Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Straw man? :-) We’re now discussing compelling state interests. That’s called progress Observer.

    If you’re still worried about the lady with the felony lobster conviction, there’s a process for her to regain her gun. Folks who have been pardoned, have had convictions expunged, or have their civil rights restored can again possess a gun. It’s not easy, but after that felony conviction nobody ever said “due process” was going to be easy, only that it’s worth it. :-)

    You said you agreed with background checks. Presumably we should look for something if we’re checking backgrounds. What should we check for?

    1. Felony convictions.
    2. Renounced citizenship.
    3. Dishonorable discharge.
    4. …

  186. Steve Smith
    April 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Pierce, bear in mind that the extreme claim that I am challenging is that the US government was intent on destroying the Mormons and Mormonism, and that the early Mormons’ possession of guns and organization of a militia forced a negotiation. This is an exaggerated, hyperbolic claim, and I’ll tell you how.

    1) The extermination order was technically not the doing of the US government, but the governor of Missouri, who opportunistically sided with anti-Mormon mobs. The order was a clear violation of the Mormons’ constitutionally protected rights to life, property, and religious freedom. However, the US government at the time had a very small army of about 6,200 soldiers, and federal government officials felt the need to tread softly in relation to the periphery lest they trigger a major political crisis. Furthermore, Van Buren ignored the Mormons’ plea for help because he wanted to gain Missouri’s vote. In fact, the rights of the early Mormon settlers arguably would have received greater protection had the US government had a stronger presence in Missouri during the 1830s. Although the order does call for extermination, to claim that a systematic killing of Mormons was on the minds of Missourians is a huge exaggeration. The anti-Mormons in Missouri were satisfied by their departure. What casualties did take place during the Missouri conflict were the product of skirmishes between different Mormon groups and mobs, and provocation on both sides. It wasn’t a government-local conflict, it was a local-local conflict, which the local government eventually got involved in. Yet, the US federal government stood idly by in the conflict. They were not the ones trying to actively exterminate the Mormons.

    2) There is no evidence whatsoever that James Buchanan intended a massive killing of Mormons, as Wonko suggests, and he is nuts for suggesting it. The Mormon leaders and settlers were undoubtedly paranoid about being the victim of government aggression, but their suspicions were absolutely unjustified. Mormon settlers actually killed more people during the 1857-1858 war (that is if you include the Mountain Meadows Massacre) than the US government. Buchanan was simply sending a message to Brigham Young to not attempt to form any quasi-independent administration that would not act in accordance with US law.

    3) The early Mormons had their persecutors, and I’m in no way trying to justify them. They were acting immorally and illegally. The US government also did not do enough to protect the Mormons. But the US federal government is not responsible for the persecution of Mormons.

    You also need to acknowledge that Wonko did indeed compare the Mormons to the Jews and suggested that the US government was trying to annihilate them. And then he later confirmed it. This is why is he is a loon. I think you want to try to sidestep the issue because it is inconvenient for you. Face it.

  187. Pierce
    April 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    1. The mob was subsidized by state militia, and the “departure” was done abruptly during winter and resulted in several casualties. If they would not have departed they would have been massacred (speculation, but I’d say it’s a pretty fair statement).

    2. Whether or not Buchanan intended a massive killing is not really the point. The point is that government troops marched on citizenry with weapons and was met by armed resistance. That resistance was not tested to the fullest capacity because both sides ultimately departed somewhat peacefully from the situation. So no, annihilation isn’t on the table, and you are the one who introduced the word. But make no mistake about it: the government was ready to kill Mormons.

    3. I guess you’re just leaving out the Utah War altogether by now.

    4. I don’t give two shakes about Wonko’s hyperbole. There is truth to be found in it. The thing about it, Steve, is that you have chosen to ignore the point of what Wonko is even saying. Sometimes exaggeration is used to illustrate a point, and you are choosing to focus on the exaggeration rather than the point. I don’t need to acknowledge all of Wonko’s views and your interpretation of them. I have the ability to understand his actual point, and I support it. But since the idea of the second amendment is “lunacy” to you, then this whole discussion may be lost on you.

    There was much more in my #157 response that I would rather discuss more.

  188. Ron Barker
    April 24, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    To be brief, European and American historical and cultural experiences have been different. Neither invalidates the other. But for the record, men used to check their guns at the door of the Johannesberg temple when presenting their recommends. They could not safely attend the temple if they left their guns at home. Yes, I said home.

  189. Bryan in VA
    April 25, 2014 at 12:24 am

    American Founding Fathers said it best…

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Ben Franklin

    Give me liberty or give me death – Patrick Henry

  190. April 25, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Provocative post and interesting discussion! I have zero interest in guns personally but the gun owners appear to have the more rational arguments.

  191. wonko6x9
    April 25, 2014 at 12:45 am


    You have called me nuts, looney, extremist and fringe. You state that my logic is twisted and unjustified. As I have retread my posts I am amazed you haven’t also attacked on punctuation and spelling errors. Thank you for that small grace.

    Yet you, in all of these discussions, have dealt only with the fringe issues and semantics surrounding the core point I made. As you obvoiusly lack rhetorical skills, I will spell out the entire point of my original comment in brief as such:

    The founding fathers feared federal troops would be used to oppress the citizenry, and thus put the second amendment in the constitution to assure that the populace would have a means of resisting. As proof of their prescience I presented that, regardless of intent, federal troops, against constitutional mandate, DID march halfway across the continent to oppress the people in Salt Lake, and the fact the saints had sufficient arms to resist played heavily in the outcome.

    Everything else is fluff and distraction Steve. If you can’t argue the points in that paragraph, then, please turn off your tablet and go back to whatever semi addled state you wish to obtain.

    I must say I feel kind of ripped off. I have been watching an entire discussion on the nature of gun rights above, and I have seen both sides give and take points, find a common ground and be able to build from there. Bravo gentlemen! I, sadly, got the pompous hack to play with.

    Pierce, I appreciate your points. Many of them were made much more deftly than mine. It is appreciated.

    Unfortunately we live in a polar time where the extremes have taken over, and anyone prepared to reach across the divide and even try to have a rational conversation is villainized and belittled. It is the difference between politicians and statesmen, and we are woefully short of statesmen anymore. There was a day when Senators Hatch and Kennedy could work out a deal over lunch that would actually accomplish something. They could disagree without being disagreeable. Sadly that day is long gone. If the truth is in the middle somewhere, it will rarely be found in today’s rhetorical climate.

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