Photo of the day

I love a great silhouette .  And so does Alan Taylor.  Here’s one from a great collection:

St.Peter’s Basilica, at sunset in downtown Rome, on on December 5, 2011. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

Love in chart form

This is pretty cool.  From a series of 4 charts of love (via Flowing Data).  Strikes me as about right:

Love and time

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. With guns.

Let’s just start with two charts (the best OECD data I could find is from 2000, but I’m sure there’s been little change in the relative rankings.  Some more recent, though less graphically friendly date here).

The US is an absolutely huge outlier here–but you knew this.  But did you know this?

Our violent crime rate is pretty ordinary.  We’re not particularly violent in America.  Just particularly deadly when we are.  Please keep pretending that has nothing to do with our gun laws and our gun culture.  Again, I would never be so naive as to suggest we could completely eliminate events like what just happened, but damn we sure as hell can make them less likely.  Yes, similar horrible things have happened in many a country with strict gun control laws but with markedly less regularity.

When you can easily legally purchase assault rifles, huge ammunition clips, body armor, etc., you’re asking for trouble.  As a matter of simple economics, if assault rifles were illegal sure James Holmes could still have found a way to buy one, but it would have been way more expensive on an illegal black market– probably a tough sell on his graduate student stipend.  Again, simple economics, the more legal guns there are around the cheaper it will be to obtain illegal guns.  Of course a determined psychopath is going to get weapons anyway, but he would surely get a lot less for his money and perhaps enter a situation with a much less deadly arsenal.

Why in the world do we allow all this stuff.  People like me are not saying we have to ban all handguns, personal defense, etc., but nobody (short of police and military, of course) needs something with more than 6 shots.  There’s plenty of middle ground while still respecting the 2nd amendment.  Eliot Spitzer:

And I am tired of hearing that the Second Amendment as a bar to useful measures—it isn’t. There is no constitutional right to buy submachine guns or silencers or uniquely hazardous bullets without background checks—or at all.

So let’s act, not just wring our hands. It is time to ban all military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, ban assault clips holding more than 10 rounds, and require that new guns have micro-stamping technology so bullets left at crime scenes can be traced. These are simple, moderate steps.

This tragedy is not shocking—it is a reminder. A stark reminder of our inability to do what so many other nations have done: Put in place meaningful gun control.

Also, good commentary from EJ Dionne:

Nobody who points to the inadequacy of our flood-control policies or mistakes by the Army Corps of Engineers is accused of “exploiting” the victims of a deluge. Nobody who criticizes a botched response by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to a natural disaster is accused of “exploiting” the victims of a hurricane or a tornado. Nobody who lays part of the blame for an accident on insufficient regulation of, say, the airlines or coal mining is accused of “exploiting” the accident’s victims.

No, it’s only where a gun massacre is concerned that an absolute and total gag rule is imposed on any thinking beyond the immediate circumstances of the catastrophe. God forbid that we question even a single tenet of the theology of firearms….

There are many reasons for this politics of timidity, not the least being a United States Senate that vastly overrepresents rural voters relative to suburban and urban voters. (The electoral college overrepresents rural voters, too.) Add to this a Republican Party that will bow low before any anti-government argument that comes along, and a Democratic Party petrified of losing more rural support — and without any confidence that advocates of tougher gun laws will cast ballots on the basis of this issue.

So let’s ask ourselves: Aren’t we all in danger of being complicit in throwing up our hands and allowing the gun lobby to write our gun laws? Awful things happen, we mourn them and then we shrug. And that’s why they keep happening.

Seriously, if there are some policies out there that we could enact that might lead to even one less (though surely it would be more) family undergoing what those families in Colorado are facing while at the same time not actually harming the right of law-abiding citizens to own reasonable guns, shouldn’t we take that step?  If not, I’d say there’s blood on our hands as a society.

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