When I respond, or seek responses, I think of the Internet Republic and the people [[whump]] and the places who have made our water world Eden brave and free and fair. Permitted, required, and impossible. Stand alone or stand with, whose choice to what degree [[Thn/]] O[[thn/]]ne water world Eden under "We the people" – created by whom?

Response to Nicholas D. Kristof

Guns which take a photo each time the trigger is pulled – mandatory for police officers. Do you want an audio file with that? Time lapse stills from the time the trigger lock is released?

Life vest under your seat? Bullet proof glass shield?

Oxygen mask? Oh, did he had a gas mask on in anticipation of this logic?

What else? pop up sillouettes from the seat back to make it totally confusing to target people?

What else? “In case of emergency break glass…” So should ushers…

What else?

Safe From Fire, but Not Guns
Published: July 25, 2012 47 Comments

Cinemas like the one in Colorado where the shooting took place last week are closely regulated in virtually every respect but one.

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
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Federal law requires large theaters to have wheelchair seating, ramps as well as stairs, and bathrooms that are accessible to the disabled. Fire codes limit audience size. Emergency fire exits must be illuminated.

We have a ratings system to protect children from nudity or offensive language. Indeed, on that horrific night in the theater last week, only one major element wasn’t regulated: the guns and ammunition used to massacre viewers.

As a nation, we regulate fire exits, but not 100-round magazines. We shield youngsters in cinemas from violence — but only if it’s on the screen.

Almost a week after the cinema shooting, we can also be sure what won’t happen: serious gun control. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have supported a ban on assault weapons in the past, but both seem to have backed off for an obvious reason: the public has become pro-gun.

Since 1959, Gallup has asked Americans if they favor banning handguns. When the polling started, 60 percent said yes; the latest poll showed support from a new low of 26 percent.

The latest poll also found that, for the first time, a majority of Americans, 53 percent, opposed a ban on assault rifles.

Indeed, the immediate reaction to the Colorado shooting was a scramble to buy guns. The Denver Post reported a roughly 40 percent jump in background checks to purchase firearms.

“It’s been insane,” a gun store employee told the paper.


Yet if traditional efforts at gun control are at a political dead end, there should still be room for a public health effort to mitigate their harm.

Take auto safety, one of the great successes of public health. Many car accidents involve unlawful behavior such as speeding or driving while intoxicated. We prosecute those offenders, but, for decades, we’ve also taken a broader public health approach. We’ve required seat belts and air bags, we’ve created graduated licenses for young drivers, and we have engineered roads and intersections so that accidents are less lethal.

The upshot is that the traffic fatality rate in the United States has fallen to a record low. Seat belts alone save more than 12,000 lives a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So if we can make cars safer, without banning them, then why not try to do the same with guns?

Look, I know this isn’t sexy. It certainly isn’t as satisfying to gun opponents as a ban on some kinds of firearms. But this approach might actually save thousands of lives.

Yes, the National Rifle Association will rant. But N.R.A. members are much more reasonable than their organization. There’s room for progress if politicians will show leadership. Hello, President Obama?

A recent survey found that more than 70 percent of N.R.A. members approve of criminal background checks for would-be gun owners. That suggests broad backing for one of the most crucial steps: a universal background check for all gun buyers, even when buying from private citizens. I’d also like to see us adopt Canada’s requirement that gun buyers have the support of two people vouching for them.

Other obvious steps include restricting high capacity magazines and limiting gun purchases to one a month. Making serial numbers more difficult to erase would help. And bravo to California for trying to require that new handguns imprint a microstamp on each bullet so that it can be traced back to the gun that fired it.

We should also finance research to design safer firearms. Many accidents would be averted if a gun always indicated if a round were in the chamber. And there should be ways to employ biometrics or a PIN so that a stolen gun would be unusable.

David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health has written an excellent book about public health approaches to firearms. But he argues that we need changes not just in laws but also in social mores — just as we’ve stigmatized drunken driving. Not to mention other kinds of irresponsibility.

“Where I see social norms changing is dog poop,” Hemenway said in an interview. “You’re not allowed to let your city dog run loose now, and you have to pick up your dog poop.” He muses: What if people felt as responsible for their guns as for their dogs? For starters, one result might be more people buying gun safes or trigger locks.

The bottom line is that to promote public health and safety, we regulate everything from theater fire exits to toy guns (that’s why they have orange tips). And if we impose rules on toy guns to make them safer, shouldn’t we do the same with real ones?

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 26, 2012, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Safe From Fire, But Not Guns.
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William Hale20016
Guns which take a photo each time the trigger is pulled – mandatory for police officers. Do you want an audio file with that? Time lapse stills from the time the trigger lock is released?

Life vest under your seat? Bullet proof glass shield?

Oxygen mask? Oh, did he had a gas mask on in anticipation of this logic?

What else? pop up sillouettes from the seat back to make it totally confusing to target people?

What else? “In case of emergency break glass…” So should ushers…

What else?

BarryPalm Coast, FL
For those thinking that an armed citizenry could/would have stopped this, please take a moment and picture this.
A dark, smoke filled theater, screaming people running and hiding, citizens with concealed carry permits, adrenaline rushing due to surprise and no training, and only the shooter knows what is going on.
The “friendly fire” casualties could/would have rivaled the shooter’s mayhem.
The acts of mad people cannot be always stopped, but we can keep WMD’s out of their hands, or at the least make it very difficult.
July 26, 2012 at 9:09 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND

polytroposRhinebeck, NY
Why not metal detectors in cinemas? We have them in airports and other places where we don’t want guns brought in.

Metal detectors, I should think, are relatively effective and relatively cheap–and a surcharge could be added to each ticket so a moviegoer could see how much he/she is paying to keep guns out of movie houses.
July 26, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

JoJoBoston, MA
How about offering bullet-proof vests at the concession stands in theatres? That can’t be much more expensive than what they’re charging for popcorn these days.
July 26, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

Derek FoleyColumbus, OH
Let’s just teach our kids how to properly handle firearms. No accident will occur if the three rules of gun safety are followed.

You think new laws will stop mass shootings? Please tell me more about how criminals follow laws.
July 26, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

DKVienna, VA
Excellent article, sir. It shows the stark logical contradiction in our lives. Michael Moore was extraordinarily vocal the other day on Tv on similar lines.
President Obama did venture yesterday to promise to address the whole violence issue. Risk worth taking indeed.
July 26, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND3

Stephen ConklinNew York
Licencing of all guns should be a federal not State issue. A car is considered a deady weapon as many things in your house could also be used as a deadly weapon. Houses have insurance just as cars do. If a federal licencing of guns and insurance to own it was required, illegal use would drop. After 9/11 the Office of Victims of Crime finalized its program started in 1985 that manages and funds every “State” Crime Victims Program . (VOCA) 1997 The problem is four months before 9/11 terrorism was quickly included in this finalization as a “State” compensable crime. Terrorism should be a federal responsability , read the” Bill of Rights”. America has no “Federal Crime Victims Fund” as it should because State Crime Victim Funds are not capable to covering latent harm from exposure based on the time limits and funding in the State Programs that have Guidelines when it come to discriminating the disabled. A federal gun licencing and insurance program could be used as a revenue source to fund a program I have asked the Justice Department and many Politicians to implement now for years. A dirty bomb would expose many people to latent harm just as the World Trade Center did. This could be included as compensable in a Federal Crime Victims fund something that still don’t exist.
July 26, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

PatrickDaly City, CA
Even the Earp brothers made the cowboys check their guns at the edge of town in Dodge City.
July 26, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

Ignacio GotzPoint Harbor, NC
I don’t know any more. It seems to me that the issue with guns is not control but an effort to scale down the obsession with having guns. Why not make an effort to introduce a new obsession, the obsession for the enjoyment of life, for the sharing of life, for the enhancement of life? When everybody is embattled against everybody else, life becomes threatened, cheapened, solitary, brutish, and eventually, short. Why not try do develop in ourselves a passion for the enhancement of life, so that our lives may become dear, shared, humane, and long?
July 26, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND3

Wild West DocLas Vegas, NM
An “obsession for the enjoyment of life” will not do you a bit of good if someone is kicking in your front door.
July 26, 2012 at 9:02 a.m.RECOMMEND

Ryan BinghamOut there
The problem with gun control is that without a gun you can end up completely at someone else’s mercy, and that someone else could be a lunatic. Folks that believe the police will protect you should read the court decisions that decree they do not have that responsibility.

While it is probably true that most gun owners don’t have the skill set to protect themselves except in the most basic of circumstances, it’s a good feeling to have a gun when you think you might need one.
July 26, 2012 at 8:44 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND2

emguttcbCincinnati, Ohio
What good did it do President Reagan who was surrounded by armed, trained Secret Service members. He was still shot.
July 26, 2012 at 9:07 a.m.RECOMMEND

MollyBethpage, Long Island, NY
This member of the American public is not pro gun. I am anti gun. I think no one should have a gun. Not any one.
July 26, 2012 at 8:44 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

Are you sure? God created man, Sam Colt made the equal. Are you sure that you want big, strong thugs to rule the streets?
July 26, 2012 at 9:07 a.m.RECOMMEND

George H. FosterOrlando, FL
The 800 pound gorilla in this room is that the real goal is to limit to total restriction gun ownership.

Loaded chamber indicators are marginal. The only real safety mechanism is acting that every gun is has a chambered round until YOU confirm otherwise.

Biometrics or a PIN making a stolen gun unusable would not be rational, if the weapon is needed to respond to an immediate threat; the last thing a person under stress needs is to worry about is the weapon going bang. What about my wife/child using it immediately?

One gun a month is a feel good joke. Microstamped bullets so that it can be traced back to the gun that fired it is a bureaucratic and financial nightmare – given the number rounds produced (including those reloaded by gun owners at home).

Non-standard mags like the 100 rounder that Holmes used – or the 31 rounder used in Tucson – are inherently unreliable. I carry a second 12 round standard OEM mag with my Beretta not for extra rounds, but to be able to react to a mag failure.

I would accept Canada’s requirement that gun buyers have the support of two people vouching for them – IF the same concept was applied to 1st Amendment rights.

Most of the firearms in the US now are not registered (I have guns manufactured as far back as the 1930’s, and at one time I had a rifle manufactured for use in the 1st World War), and the administrative cost to get them listed would be logistically and legally (remember those pesky 4th and 5th Amendments) impossible.
July 26, 2012 at 8:44 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

Lary WaldmanBowen Island BC
People may find this of interest. Canada, roughly the same size as California population wise, has very harsh criminal penalties for carrying handguns, we also may still have a long gun registry, but the equivalent of the tea party, currently the government in Canada is trying to end that over the objection of Police Chiefs and NGO’s.The thing is that we have less gun violence in the broad population, but the gangsters still have guns. Gangsters will always have guns no matter what you do to make it illegal. The death penalty would not stop gangsters from carrying guns. So there it is, most people that own a rifle live in rural areas and hunt, although I am certain that many hunters live in cities as well. Few people have permits to carry a concealed weapon, and the outcome of being caught with one is not pleasant. America has more then one gun per person, is it just me or is that just plain wrong.

Lary Waldman
Bowen Island
July 26, 2012 at 8:44 a.m.REPLYRECOMMEND1

nytimesnickphoenix, az
Uh Bill….you seem to be using common sense, rational thinking, and the general consensus to argue based on a public health and safety motivation. Like many important issues facing our society, the issue of gun control in this country has been hijacked by an absolutist mob of thought-boobs who, while on the wrong side of both common sense and popular opinion, have worked themselves up into a collective “conspiracy” mindset over this issue and raised such public fuss that even the topic of what limits might be considered is illegitimate in their eyes.

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