I'm simply pissed at yet another mass shooting like this, and it's well past time to start actually doing something about it.
I found this good piece about guns and mass shootings in the US, and that teed me up for an epic Facebook flame, which follows below the orange doohingie.
First of all, there are plenty of law-abiding, conscientious gun owners out there. Some people enjoy shooting skeet, or hunting, or going down to the firing range and pumping lead downrange at a balky computer. I have no problem with hunting; if you like eating wild game (or are surviving on it), that's OK by me. Animals living in the wild probably have a better life than animals who spend their entire lives cooped up in small cages or on feedlots. But you're not going to be using a semiautomatic with a 100-round magazine for that purpose. And if you really are tired of that computer, you'll have more fun going to a licensed range, renting a full automatic (or some ridiculous huge caliber rifle whose recoil will knock you to the ground), and blasting away. But hopefully you'll be more careful than the guy who let his kid play with a Micro Uzi at a range, who didn't realize that the recoil from that piece would force the barrel up...and into the poor kid's head. Or the bloke who more recently left his gun in his car while he ran a quick errand, and his kid got hold of it, and it went off, killing him. I've never fired anything heavier than an air rifle, but even I know that a device capable of firing live ammunition isn't a toy. Even if there isn't a round in the chamber. Because maybe there actually is.
First of all, let's get the really silly stuff out of the way. If you're going to start trying to argue that you need your guns to protect yourself against government tyranny, you are, simply put, full of it. The US government really isn't tyrannical, and if it were to become that way, a handful of guns owned by citizens who don't know diddly about tactics won't get anywhere against the best-equipped and trained military in the world. Look how the Branch Davidians, who were relatively well organized, did. Not very well. And police in this country are much better armed than in many other countries, because there are so many more guns around, so they always have to assume they're facing someone armed. And sometimes something goes wrong.
And let's not even get started with this yivshish about "Second Amendment remedies" and "watering the tree of liberty with blood". Maybe you don't like Obamacare [well, here on Daily Kos we either like it or simply think it doesn't go far enough], but you're essentially saying that your opinion is more important than someone else's because you're prepared (or you say you are) to kill someone else to impose your political views. In other words, you're prepared to impose your own tyranny over the votes of your fellow citizens.
So now we get into the controversy of "self-defense". Really, I don't object to someone using deadly force to defend his or her home, if your life is under real threat. If someone violently invades your home, and gets scragged in the process, that's OK. But hopefully those flying bullets won't fly out the window, or through the walls or floor or ceiling into some neighbor's home. Or the "burglar" actually is someone with ill intent, and not a meter reader, a salesman, or a friend whom you don't happen to recognize, or someone whose car broke down and is simply looking for assistance. Hopefully you're well-trained and practiced in your tactics, and you're fully awake and alert, or you might find yourself looking down the barrel of your own gun for the final seconds of your life. I'm far from convinced that many of the people who say that they need a gun for self-defense really could defend themselves with it and not put innocent bystanders at risk. All of the gun safety classes and all the tactics you can learn won't help you if you don't have everything so well ingrained that you can recognize the situation and react appropriately. Even the military, with its extensive command, control, and communication infrastructure, loses a lot of people to "friendly" fire. If there are multiple guns on the scene, are you sure you could instantly recognize which ones are friendly and which aren't? Or that another friendly gun-wielder would recognize that you're a good guy and not a bad one?
I'm sure there are cases of civilians actually using (as opposed to just carrying concealed) firearms for protection outside of their home. I can't think of any cases, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any. But you're not going to be using a high capacity semiautomatic rifle for self-defense, unless you're in the military or maybe a SWAT team (even in the latter case, I suspect you're going to be more successful putting a highly accurate bolt action rifle in the hands of a well-trained marksman). It's simply too unwieldly for defensive use. A handgun with a 5-10 round clip, perhaps. Maybe. But I'd still like a few examples of a gun actually being used successfully by a civilian in self-defense. Certainly, they haven't been used (much less successfully) in any of the recent mass assaults in Colorado, Oregon, or Connecticut.
"But guns don't kill people, people kill people!" Usually that's true. But the guy who let his young son fire an Uzi, or the guy who left his gun in the car (what happened, did the ammo cook off, or did it fall and accidentally discharge?) didn't fire the guns that killed their children. And yes, it's possible for people to use other weapons, such as knives. Curiously enough, just today someone "cut up" a school in China, with 22 victims, about the same number as in Newtown. The difference is that there are 22 wounded victims. Not dead victims. They survived the attack. See this piece.
And that's the difference. An expert in the use of a knife can indeed kill someone at close quarters, but they have to be at very close quarters. That's not the case with a gun, which doesn't require nearly as much skill to shoot up a crowd and kill a bunch of people at a distance -- at a distance, where they can stand others off while they keep firing from a huge clip.
What about other weapons? Explosives and planes have been used as weapons of mass destruction. Poisons can also kill people. But all of these require substantial skill on the part of the would-be murderers. No, guns are uniquely efficient machines specialized for the purpose of killing.
"If we outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns." Well, yeah, trivially true. But other countries with very stringent gun laws don't have a lot of gun killings (or guns, for that matter). Switzerland and Israel, which are famous for universal gun ownership, actually have rather strict laws these days. Yes, Anders Breivik in Norway killed quite a few people, but that was notable by how rare that was. The problem is that since guns (even very destructive ones) are legal in so much of the country, there's plenty of supply. Full automatics (machine guns) are very tightly restricted in this country, and they aren't used very much because they're hard for even criminals to acquire. Semiautomatics aren't (to the best of my knowledge) really all that much harder to manufacture, but are widely available, so criminals can get their hands on them.
So I've come to the conclusion that yes, we do need to look at the gun laws in this country. I'm not saying that we have to eliminate all private gun ownership in this country, although the longer the current state of affairs goes on, the more pressure there eventually will be to do just that. But this notion that gun ownership, even of very efficient weapons of mass death, should be a universal right, has to go.