From The Nation, some interesting background on "the biggest seller of firearms and ammunition in America."

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Petition to Walmart from SumOfUs:

"Stop selling military-grade assault rifles and the types of high-capacity magazines used in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting."

Sign here.

EricLykins's picture

Petitions are so 2010 ;) Make

Petitions are so 2010 ;)

Make the phones ring.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I like it, Eric. Thanks.

R. Neal's picture

Assault weapons ban

I was thinking the other day that an "assault weapons" ban might not make much difference in the big scheme of things and maybe that's a point rational people might concede to the NRA and gun fetishists and instead focus on mental health, background checks and better regulation of ammunition and high-capacity magazines. Looking around at Walmart's gun selections makes me more convinced.

Here's why.

This rifle sold by Walmart would be prohibited under an "assault weapon" ban similar to the one that expired. This rifle would not be banned, and is available in many (all?) states that have their own assault weapon bans.

They are both semi-automatic rifles. They both fire the same round as the military M-16 rifle. Trigger pull on the first one is 7.6 lbs. and 6.5 lbs. on the second one. The first one has a 16" barrel, the second has an 18.5" barrel. Both can generate a bullet muzzle velocity in excess of 3000 fps. Both will shoot 2" groups at 100 yards. The first one weighs 6.5 lbs. unloaded, the second 7 lbs.

The first rifle comes with a standard "high capacity" 30 round AR-15/M-16 magazine and more are readily available on the internet.

The second rifle has only a six round capacity (with one round chambered) as sold by Walmart, but it is available from the manufacturer with a 20 round magazine and you can order a 30 round magazine from Bass Pro Shops online for $28.

So the first rifle's cosmetic "assault weapon" design features (pistol grip, collapsible stock, shorter barrel, flash suppressor) presumably provide some advantage in a battlefield/combat situation, but the rifles are otherwise similar and both are easily capable of murdering large numbers of innocent civilians.

Regulating magazine capacity, frequency of purchase, number that can lawfully be possessed, etc. and doing the same for ammunition might be more likely to have a beneficial effect.

But the problem remains that psychopaths don't much care about laws except the ones that allow them to purchase their personal weapons of mass destruction at Walmart. (Criminals can't generally afford them.)

JCB's picture

The Mini-14 will never be

The Mini-14 will never be outlawed.

lonnie's picture

I thought the old assault

I thought the old assault weapon ban was only for imported assault weapons, which made up about a third of assault weapon sales in the U.S.? I did not think the ban included domestic made assault weapons. I agree that all assault weapons, domestic or foreign, should be banned along with regulating magazine capacity for other firearms. In addition, all gun owners should be required to take a gun safety class. Child safety locks should also be mandatory. Of course, gun show sales should be regulated and monitored. Most reasonable folks would support these policies. Another positive step, which would be more difficult, would be to ban the NRA and maybe deport the twisted leaders of that organization.

michael d.

EricLykins's picture

The NRA could be an

The NRA could be an unintended beneficiary of mandatory liability insurance for gun owners.

fischbobber's picture


What in the wide wide world of sports would make you think it was unintended?

EricLykins's picture

We passed a health care bill

We passed a health care bill mandating individual coverage, but there was also the medical loss ratio provision in the law. What if 90% of NRA dues went to safety education instead of lobbying efforts for deregulation? The 1957 motto of the NRA was Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting for Recreation.

smalc's picture

I did not think the ban

I did not think the ban included domestic made assault weapons.

Domestic made firearms were included in the previous "assault weapons ban". But, as pointed out elsewhere in this thread, the ban was mostly on cosmetic features-aside from the magazine restrictions. During the ban there was always plenty of pre-ban merchandise out there for those willing to pay.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Regulating magazine capacity, frequency of purchase, number that can lawfully be possessed, etc. and doing the same for ammunition might be more likely to have a beneficial effect.

Yes, everything I've learned (in the last week) about the expired assault weapons ban mentions holes in the former law.

WRT "regulating magazine capacity," you're still talking about a ban, though, whether or not that ban should define differently just what is to be banned.

Don't you expect that the NRA-types wouldn't hear of any differently-defined ban, either?

That's my expectation.

R. Neal's picture

That article, by the way, has

That article, by the way, has one small but important inaccuracy. It says that "many gun shows aren't required to perform such checks."

If I'm not mistaken, all licensed firearm dealers at gun shows or anywhere else are required to perform background checks.

Private sales between individuals are not generally required to have a background check, except some states have stricter laws requiring them for all guns (or in some cases for all handguns) sold at gun shows whether private sales or by licensed dealers.

So it might be more accurate to say that some sales at some gun shows in some states don't require a background check.

It's a loophole that should be closed. All firearm purchases should require a background check, even private sales between individuals regardless of whether they occur at a gun show.

Rachel's picture

Gun show loophole

It's a pretty big loophole. CNN reported several times this week that 40% of all gun sales don't require a background check.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Walmart's history of violations

In 2005, The Los Angeles Times reported:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will pay $14.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the California attorney general that accuses the nation's largest retailer of a host of gun law violations.


(Attorney General Bill) Lockyer's lawsuit...followed an audit late last year of five Wal-Mart stores in Simi Valley, Folsom, Turlock, Fresno and Ukiah. The audit uncovered 2,891 alleged violations between 2000 and 2003.

The alleged violations included selling firearms to 23 people prohibited from owning them, delivering firearms before completing criminal background checks and failing to verify buyers' identities through thumbprints and driver's licenses, Lockyer's office said. At least three dozen people made "straw purchases," or bought guns on behalf of people barred from owning them, resulting in the filing of charges against 20 people.


More apparent violations were uncovered at a Wal-Mart store in Pleasanton in 2001, including a failure by the company to conduct background checks on workers selling guns. Additional inspections in 2002 and 2003 revealed more supposed violations, sending agents to investigate Wal-Mart stores in Turlock, Merced, Los Banos, Madera and Sacramento. Agents said they found hundreds of alleged violations at stores in those cities of state gun laws...

bizgrrl's picture

Wow! So will the $14.5

Wow! So will the $14.5 million make Wal-Mart Stores do a better job in the future? Doubtful. It seems like that money should be spent on more audits of gun sellers.

Roscoe Persimmon's picture

Gun show loophole needs to be closed, private sellers

need to comply with all ATF regulations, registrations, background checks, and they should collect all state and any federal sales taxes involved.

However, with no realistic assurances that civilian versions of military firearms will be unavailable to the deranged, unstable, and outliers of a modern society, law abiding citizens are not likely to give up their second amendment rights.

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun intent on mayhem is with a good guy with a gun, in his path, well trained and more than capable of dropping the bad guy before he starts the mayhem or the carnage.

Rachel's picture

The only way to stop a bad

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun intent on mayhem is with a good guy with a gun, in his path, well trained and more than capable of dropping the bad guy before he starts the mayhem or the carnage.

Tell that to the local Unitarians.

JWagner's picture

Mr. Neal, You have displayed

Mr. Neal,

You have displayed more factual knowledge of firearms than I have seen from 90% of the reporting in the last few days. A few other comments on the subject of guns:

Many reports refer to the .223 round as extraordinarily powerful. While definitely lethal, the cartridge is not regarded as particularly powerful among center-fire calibers. It is much less powerful than the .243, that used to be the minimum caliber for deer hunting. Until about six years ago, the 223 was illegal for deer hunting in Tennessee, because it was thought not powerful enough. More recent bullet designs make it more suitable.

The 7.62x39 round of the AK-type rifles is similarly to the 100+ year old .30/30. It is far less powerful than the .308 and .30-06 cartridges.

I see calls for banning "armor piercing" ammunition. The truth is that virtually any rifle cartridge suitable for deer hunting will pierce all but the heaviest body armor. There is already a federal law prohibiting such ammunition for handguns.

Some final thoughts to demonstrate it's not just about guns. The AR15 has been on the market since the mid-1960's. I have an older friend who ordered one before the Gun Control Act of 1968 and had it delivered to his UT dorm room. Today, SWAT would be called.

Before 1968, surplus M1 Carbines, with 30 round magazines, could be ordered through the mail for about $60 (about $450 today). Surplus 9mm and .45 handguns were delivered parcel post and are every bit as effective as today's pistols. If one wanted a 14-shot pistol, the Browning High Power was available.

All this is to say, the guns of today are more different in looks than function and effectiveness than those of 50+ years ago. I'll leave the political and social arguments to another time.

vernon's picture

I went to New Mexico last

I went to New Mexico last summer and hunted antelope, after tagging out we helped a local rancher with a prairie dog problem,I shot my CZ-22 mag and my buddies had AR-15s and shot the .223 round,we hammered the prairie dogs and got a couple of coyotes as well.The smaller rifles were perfect for varmint hunting.We had a blast.

fischbobber's picture

Center fire vs. Rimfire

You just made a great point for banning assault weapons. What possible justification is there for high capacity magazines for center fire, high powered, tumbling ammunition, when rimfire is just as effective for varmit hunting? The load is hell on meat hunting and is really only usefull if someone is a crappy shot and they still want the kill.

Y'all weren't sound shooting were you? I hate being in the field when pretenders are hunting.

vernon's picture

well if I d known you eat

well if I d known you eat prairie dog and coyote I would have brought some back for you-you really eat those critters Elmer?
Showing yourself to be a bit of pilgrim.
If I m hunting large game, I use a 300 win mag,but that would be a little overkill on varmints.I m sure you already know that seeing as what an experienced hunter you seem to be.

fischbobber's picture

Great point!

The army picked the .223 load for it's ability to inflict casualties, not death. While the tumbling effect of the ammunition would likely cause death by bleeding out in varmits, it is a somewhat cruel method of hunting. It would tend to be preferred by moderate to poor shots, which is another reason it was chosen by the military.

As our ROTC insructor explained, the round can hit the enemy in the arm, richochete off of various bones and literally exit in the leg leaving a path of destruction through the body. The AR15 is a field weapon though, and is of limited use in close quarters as a defense weapon.

The weapon is not a sport rifle in the classic sense of the term. Modified versions also have value as a target shooting rifle.

fischbobber's picture

Prairie dogs

Just because I don't eat them, doesn'y mean I think watching them explode is sporting. A center-fired 223 load is overkill for small game. You hunt with some strange people. What did they do for fun on their down time? Douse cats with gasoline and throw matches at them or play frog baseball?

Good for you for using appropriate loads though.

Factchecker's picture

How would they now write their fundraising letters?

The 1957 motto of the NRA was Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting for Recreation.

Did not know or at least remember this specifically, but I did have an NRA card as a kid, after having taken a rifle shooting class which was largely about safety.

Why did they drift to the dark side? They are now actually calling for their most feared/hated object, a black president they want you to think is a socialist out to confiscate all your prized possessions, to employ federal jack-booted thugs as outposts in all public schools.

vernon's picture

Some school districts have an

Some school districts have an armed officer at school,New Jersey instituted a policy before the sandy hill shootings.As long as they are handled locally -why would it be a problem? You ve already got an armed officer attending school ball games.I know they arm officers at the city county building at each entrance.What would it hurt to have one designated to provide security and at school during school hours?We could move the ones that sit all day at speed traps writing tickets.I d say the kids are more important.What are you afraid of?

vernon's picture

I understand,the speed trap

I understand,the speed trap is a personal gripe of mine.I have a 2nd grader and it just wouldn't bother me at all to have an officer in his school.I actually like the idea.Its a deterrent for drug activity and violence.I don t get the "police state" part of it.We see officers at numerous functions in every day life,its funny to think we don t have them at school,to me at least.

vernon's picture

Is UT a school? they have

Is UT a school? they have their own police department,I don't know they if they are armed or not,but UT is not considered a police state to my knowledge.Gun owners are a very safe law abiding group.If you want to protect kids I think you would see clearly that an officer in school would be a good move.If you want to advance a political agenda, I can see its tempting to use the latest tragedy to that end.

Rachel's picture

New Jersey instituted a

New Jersey instituted a policy before the sandy hill shootings.

I believe you are mistaken. Chris Christie came out against armed guards in elementary schools after the NRA made that proposal.

vernon's picture


fischbobber's picture

Roughly 1 million dollars a year.

Buy the time wages, retirement, benefits, and various costs of insurance (liability, unemployment, workman's comp etc.) you're looking at about 1 million dollars a year to put armed gaurds at nine schools.

Of course, you could always go the zoo man discount wage route and hire pedophiles and serial rapists and murderers at a discount rate. Public jobs are like shooting fish in a barrel for criminal types.

vernon's picture

why not police or sheriffs

why not police or sheriffs officers? Would it not be good for the kids to get to know an officer in their community-and for the officer to get to know the kids and families of the school.Community relations would be great.No way placing one officer in each school would cost money.Kids think officers are cool,He could also teach a program on staying away from drugs.The more I think about it, I see some real benefits.
I think you guys are freaking out because he wears a gun,if he did not wear a gun would you oppose it?


fischbobber's picture

Kids think officers are cool.

If kids thought officers were cool we wouldn't be having these problems.

The reality still tends to be as much this


as anything.

Most police departments are already cut to the bone and the tradeoff for putting cops in schools to protect Little Cindy Lou Who is that the grinch has unfettered access to your house. The tradeoff is more crime in the street. In addition, since there was a level of planning involved in most of these shooting, what is the proposal to keep future shooters from bushwhacking the officers, killing them, and then using the officers own weapon to kill more innocents? A lot of these shooters appear to be intelligent, creative, disenfranchised youth with a lot of time on their hands.

It's a very expensive bad idea.

EricLykins's picture

Why did they drift to the

Why did they drift to the dark side?

. In 1975, the N.R.A. created a lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, headed by Harlon Bronson Carter, an award-winning marksman and a former chief of the U.S. Border Control. But then the N.R.A.’s leadership decided to back out of politics and move the organization’s headquarters to Colorado Springs, where a new recreational-shooting facility was to be built. Eighty members of the N.R.A.’s staff, including Carter, were ousted. In 1977, the N.R.A.’s annual meeting, usually held in Washington, was moved to Cincinnati, in protest of the city’s recent gun-control laws. Conservatives within the organization, led by Carter, staged what has come to be called the Cincinnati Revolt. The bylaws were rewritten and the old guard was pushed out. Instead of moving to Colorado, the N.R.A. stayed in D.C., where a new motto was displayed: “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed.”

Read more: (link...)

The term "jack-booted government thugs" originated in a 1995 NRA fundraising letter sent to its 3.5 million members.

EricLykins's picture

*double post deleted


reform4's picture

Why did they drift to the

Why did they drift to the dark side?

They no longer represent the community of shooters (sport or otherwise). A majority of their $$$ comes from firearm manufacturers. They are a big business special interest lobbying group under the guise of representing "the people."

Hence the disconnect between their membership and their policies.

redmondkr's picture

Gun owners are a very safe

Gun owners are a very safe law abiding group.

Black Friday shopper fires gun at female motorist on Oak Ridge Hwy.

vernon's picture

I hear you-probably should ve

I hear you-probably should ve said "most gun owners"

EricLykins's picture

Is David Michael Keene in

Is David Michael Keene in town?

EricLykins's picture



JWagner's picture

"The term "jack-booted

"The term "jack-booted government thugs" originated in a 1995 NRA fundraising letter sent to its 3.5 million members."

The phrase actually was first used in connection with the ATF by John Dingell (D-Mich), back in the 1980s.

EricLykins's picture

Good catch. "Jack-booted

Good catch. "Jack-booted fascists" appears in the Congressional record from him in 95, 94, 83 and in a commercial he made for the NRA in 1981.

Factchecker's picture

I should have put quotes

I should have put quotes around "jack-booted thugs," since I intentionally used the fundraising phrase.

Maybe I haven't been following closely enough, but I understood the NRA to want guards on the national level. Of course they would be local residents, so why should we get hung up over the distinction of federal or local employer? President Obama (whom the NRA fundraises off of in their loathing of him) would wield central authority over this either way.

I've also seen the cost estimate to arm our schools as proposed at $6 billion and some odd. Given there are 4M NRA members, all of us would be paying $1500 per NRA member per year to implement this fanatical and radical organization's futile and paranoid response to this one school massacre. What spending do we cut, or is this more deficit spending? If it's local law enforcement, I smell the GOP-dreaded "unfunded mandate."

Then, what about the equal number of gun deaths that occur in this country every 2 days as did in Newtown? How do they get an armed guard? What about the mall, restaurant, and parking lot massacres? What about church massacres like the one in Knoxville where my friend and neighbor was murdered? What about Columbine, which already had an armed guard at that school, to no avail?

Honestly, there's no reasoning with the NRA nuts. And they have won on EVERYTHING politically, because they have so thoroughly purchased government, and in spite of their tiny 4 million members out of 320M in this country. So far.

Factchecker's picture

Reasons? You want reasons?

Cost and effectiveness, for two.

Hey, I've got a great idea how to replace unemployment, food stamps and all of the other "welfare" programs for the poor and disadvantaged. We go back to the way of boys town, just like in the old movies! Churches can take up the slack. Oh wait, that was another brilliant idea from the irrational right.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Maybe "the police" aren't trained to do all those things, but School Resource Officers are, actually.

From their site:

National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) was founded on the “triad” concept of school-based policing which is the true and tested strength of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. The triad concept divides the SRO’s responsibilities into three areas: Teacher, Counselor, and Law Enforcement Officer. By training law enforcement to educate, counsel, and protect our school communities, the men and women of NASRO continue to lead by example and promote a positive image of law enforcement to our Nation’s youth.

Personally, I don't support armed teachers, administrators, or volunteers of any sort in our schools.

SROs, though, are a horse of a different color, I think.

Besides, they've already been in schools for around 25 years and about 1/3 of schools nationally already have one or more.

The kids like 'em, too.

I'm starting to wonder if maybe this concept of SROs is as misunderstood at that of Boy Scouts???

fischbobber's picture

concept of SROs

We actually have these guys (I don't know whether or not they're armed) in Knox County Schools today. They haven't stopped school shootings in Knoxville and this begs the question, "How many are enough?" At what point do our schools become prisons?

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but if the people of Knoxville really wanted these sorts of problems addressed with real world solutions, we would have elected Anthony Hancock. Clearly, the education and safety of our children is a low priority to the voters of this town.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yes, Knox County's SROs are armed. They're in all high schools and maybe in all middle schools? Not sure on the latter.

It's true that the SRO at Central High was not able to stop the shooting there. Was he even in the school cafeteria when that shooting took place? I don't recall reading, one way or the other.

I don't think the presence of armed SROs in schools is The Answer in its entirety, but I do think employing them makes sense as just one prong in a multi-pronged solution to include revamped gun control measures and adequate funding for mental health, as well.

I guess I'm a bit perplexed at what appears to be outright hostility toward law enforcement.

Is that hostility being directed only to law enforcement in schools, or is it being directed toward law enforcement more generally???

(Disclaimer: Taught my kids that if in trouble, look for a uniformed police officer...)

fischbobber's picture


I like our Student Resource Officer,and I think that he does a good job and I think he's a valuable asset to Bearden Middle School for a variety of reasons. I just don't think stopping a full scale, well planned assault from a lunatic protected by the juvenile justice system is one of those reasons.


Preparing every school in our system for a response to an assault like Sandy Springs is both cost prohibitive and counterproductive. We can't afford middle school athletics but we can keep a SWAT team in place in every school? Really? That's what it would take and there wouldn't be any screwing around. We would end up shooting more kids than we protect, and we would justify it by saying they asked for it. Does that sound like the way we deal with any other crime?

We already have these guys in place, the NRA just wants us to tell them to start shooting.

fischbobber's picture


If we allocate the resources to identify and teach high risk kids to function socially we would likely get a more positive result than we would achieve by shooting them in front of several hundred children.

Just my opinion.

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