Episode 110 – Tuscon Tragedy, Gun Laws and Changing Political Talk

PoliTalk was created over two years ago by two best friends (on different sides of the political aisle) sick of the inflamatory, hyperbolic, hateful political rhetoric. Political talk continues to spin out of control. Tuscon may be the tombstone for civility in this country. Jeff and Glenn start the show by talking about the politics of hate and then find their way into a deep and provocative dialogue on gun control, maybe setting an example about how we can disagree without being disagreeable…and even laughing a few times. When it comes to the policies of tragedy, sweeping laws have been enacted in reaction to specific events (Brady Bill, TSA, Homeland Security, Warrantless Wiretapping). What laws, if any, need to be looked at in light of this tragedy? Or do we all need to take more responsibility in the way we talk with and to each other about the pressing problems we face as a country?

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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6 responses to “Episode 110 – Tuscon Tragedy, Gun Laws and Changing Political Talk

  1. First, I would like to say that this episode reminded me of why I love your show so much. You two had an honest and respectful debate about gun control when you both had very different opinions. It is great to be able to turn somewhere for these kinds of discussions. If only all our politicians could be so civil.

    As far as the issue of gun control, it seems like after a tragedy such as this, people seem to focus on stopping crazy people from doing crazy things. However, as Glen said, crazy people are going to find a way to do what they were planning on doing. I agree that a clip that holds 30 bullets is completely unnecessary, as are assault rifles and many other types of guns. However, if he wasn’t able to get a clip with 30 bullets, what would have stopped him from just buying several guns and instead of reloading just using a second, third, etc gun. So, then would we have to limit how many guns a person has? Every one of these laws that is put into place has an affect on the non-crazy people from acting responsibly with whatever guns they feel necessary to own. I don’t think we should just give up and let everybody that wants guns get them, but the process that we have with background checks seems to be a decent setup, although I am sure the process could be tweaked (not familiar enough with the details to know how).

  2. I found it on Google Listen on my Android phone when looking for podcasts about the Fair Tax. I listened to that episode and have been hooked since.

  3. Maureen Williams

    Gentlemen – and I do mean that term literally:

    Excellent debate this week as always. I actually had to pause a few minutes in to allow my blood pressure to go down but I love and trust you both so I forged on and enjoyed the debate (should have known you’d both do it right). Kudos to both of you as always for keeping it civil.

    Although neither a Second Amendment expert nor a gun owner, I could spend hours linking you into total boredom on the subject of the right to keep and bear arms, as this is something I’ve done a lot of reading on in the last few years, especially since the Mont Vernon NH case. As a woman who spends a great deal of time vacationing in a fairly remote area, I’ve given serious consideration to purchasing a firearm for home defense. In my home state I would likely be unable to obtain a concealed carry permit because as a MAY issue state concealed-carry licensing decisions are left up to the local police chief. In my home town the local police chief is rather staunchly anti-gun (or at least anti-citizens owning guns) so I have little doubt I would be denied a carry permit, though an FID to maintain a shotgun for home defense is not out of the realm of possibility. My second-home state carries less restrictions and though I have no wish to take on the responsibility of concealed carry (or of open carry, for that matter) in either state, I admire, respect and appreciate those who bear that responsibility conscientiously and with proper respect for the tool they use. I’m grateful to know that with the proper training and licenses I can defend myself with more than the large hammer I currently have at my disposal should someone enter my home with the intent to do me harm.

    Thoughts on the Tucson shooter and whether or not additional gun laws would have prevented this tragedy:

    There are many many many gun laws on the books now which, if properly enforced, MAY and should have prevented the shooter from obtaining a gun in the manner in which he did. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean he would not have been able to obtain a gun through other means (see War on Drugs, Prohibition). I don’t believe that trying to legislate guns out of existence will make anyone safer. I do believe the old cliche that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns (see United Kingdom, City of Chicago).

    He was apparently not in the mental health system, despite various opportunities lost to potentially get him help or have him committed so as not to be a danger to himself or others:


    There is also “A” report (source not cited, confidentiality, HIPAA (which he spelled wrong BTW), all that jazz) stating that the Sheriff’s office was aware of the shooter’s history.



    Mr. Kelley’s credentials:

    Hopefully the answers to the questions raised by those statements will be found in the FBI investigation and subsequent trial.

    All this is by way of saying that a criminal conviction for death threats or prior commitment for mental health issues might (should) have disqualified him from being able to legally obtain a gun. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t have gotten one via other means if he had wanted to.

    During interviews immediately after the shooting Sheriff Dupnik stated that there had been previous contact with law enforcement but it is unclear whether this information was known before the shooting or gathered after. On Jan 11 the Sheriff’s office statement denied prior knowledge of any threats against Rep. Giffords or the public and further states that no request for security was presented to their office; indeed they were not aware the event was taking place.


    However it is well known that her office had been vandalized in the past. Rep. Giffords is reported to be a registered gun owner. Had she been carrying that day, she may have been able to defend herself and others against the threat. PLEASE DO NOT construe this as blaming the victim. I have no idea whether she was licensed to carry, and I’m sure had her own valid reasons (as I do) for why she was not armed that day. I hope and pray that she recovers fully and has an opportunity to express her opinion on that matter personally.

    My final thoughts:

    A gun was used in the home invasion in Cheshire CT; however, a knife and machete were used in Mont Vernon. In neither case did the victims have the means to fight back. As with the Tucson shooting, it’s not the tool that’s to blame, it’s the lunatic wielding the tool. I believe that the Second Amendment gives me the opportunity and the means to defend myself against such horrors using the best available tool for the job. THAT’s why “I need a gun”.

    We could go on about magazine capacities, assault weapons, M203 grenade launchers, etc (which are classified as destructive devices and prohibited under the National Firearms Act of 1934, which is still in effect) but I’ve taken up enough of your comments section here. Just wanted to chime in with some additional information to hopefully help you understand perhaps a bit better the other side of the argument.

    And one last link, a more eloquent statement than my tiny mind could possibly conceive and one I hope you appreciate.


    I don’t think anyone had a chance of reasoning with the shooter in Tucson, but hopefully when it comes to our modern understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we can begin a careful dialogue and come to – if nothing else – an agreement to disagree without being disagreeable.

    And last but not least, to Reps. Bob Brady, Ruben Hinojosa, Louise Sloughter, Carolyn McCarthy, Peter King, and any others who may be considering sponsoring legislation in the wake of this terrible tragedy, please – if you wish to amend the Constitution there is a process for doing so. Do not try to legislate the rights granted by the Constitution out of existence without going through the proper procedures. If you can get a Constitutional convention and 3/4ths of the states to ratify overturning of the first and second amendments – or the any of the others, for that matter – then go for it. Maybe first you should read it again, quietly, to yourselves, until you understand it.

    Cheers to both of you, you make me smarter every week!

  4. Maureen – Wow – What a post – I think you have broken my previous record for word count.

    You allude early on to thinking that you would have trouble obtaining a firearm in the “remote” county you spend some time in.

    Really? Are you implying that there are actually places in America where law abiding citizens cannot obtain a firearm, to keep in their home, after obtaining a license/registration and a reasonable waiting period?

    I find that hard to believe if true but I am willing to be educated.

    My underlying point being that the NRA and defenders of gun rights create a ton of FUD (fear – uncertainty – doubt) around guns laws, when in fact any law abiding citizen anywhere in America can obtain a firearm legally.

    This right is never going away, it is constitutional, no matter what the NRA wants you to believe.

  5. Maureen Williams

    Jeff, I’m both Irish and trained in Sales so I’m prevented genetically from getting to a point quickly. To clarify: I don’t believe I would have trouble getting a permit in the remote location, however, likely would be denied in my home town in MA which is what is called a “may issue” state (as opposed to a “shall issue” state) – in MA, you can get an FID which allows you to own a shotgun as these are “shall issue”, but you can be denied a concealed carry permit as these are “may issue”. There are other states with the same limitations.

    The police chief has the authority to allow or deny a concealed carry permit and the authority to revoke that permit for apparently any reason, including exercise of your First Amendment right.


    I actually had an opportunity to read the blog post that caused the Chief of Police to suspend the gentleman’s license and sieze his firearms. I also followed the thousands of comments which followed, and the two interviews he did with the local dead-tree papers after the fire storm erupted. Unfortunately, his blog which is now down as he apparently prepares a legal defense to restore both his second and first amendment rights.

    The rights may be constitutional but that doesn’t prevent people from trying to put limitations on those rights or deny them outright. I do wish you could have read the post, perhaps some day it will be restored and you can decide for yourself.

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