John Rosenthal (courtesy bostonglobe.com)

A couple of years ago, I squared off against Massachusetts real estate developer and civilian disarmament proponent  on local TV. Mr. Rosenthal was positioned in another part of the studio. When the exchange ended, I asked to meet him. He hightailed it out of there. Rosenthal’s abject unwillingness to engage in a proper conversation about guns typifies the antis. So when I saw his HuffPpo polemic Another Day, Another Mass Shooting and 86 Dead From Gun Violence in America, I decided to issue him a challenge: refute my fisk on the following paragraph . . .

After every high profile mass shooting, the NRA and its supporters in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, blame mental illness versus asking the appropriate question — how did the mentally ill person or criminal access firearms without a thorough background check or detection? The answer is simple: thanks to Congress, federal gun policy allows unrestricted gun access without a criminal background check or detection in over 30 states from private gun dealers at gun shows, online and out of car trunks and backpacks. Only federally licensed gun dealers are required to run a background check on gun purchasers, however criminals and the dangerously mentally ill know all too well, if you can’t pass a background check, no worries, buy from a private gun dealer-no questions asked.

The NRA and its supporters don’t always blame mental illness after “every” mass shooting. In many headline examples (e.g. the first Fort Hood massacre), the NRA and its supporters blame terrorists. Because, you know, terrorism. In some cases of mass murder (e.g. the Aurora massacre), the NRA and its supporters blame the person who pulled the trigger. They may call the perp evil or criminal but they reject the assertion that the trigger man was mentally ill. (As did the court in the James Holmes trial.)

Yes, in some cases (e.g. the Newtown massacre), the NRA and its supporters blame mental illness. Well, not mental illness per se. They blame the dangerously mentally ill person who committed the crime. So both in specific and generally, Rosenthal is wrong when he says the NRA and its supporters blame mental illness after “every” high profile mass shooting. A small point? Hardly. Rosenthal is portraying the NRA and its supporters as deluded at best, deliberately misleading at worst. Ironically enough.

Rosenthal goes on to assert that the mentally ill people carrying out these high profile shootings get their firearms at “gun shows, online and out of car trunks and backpacks.” With a rare exception – the Columbine killers – that’s simply not true. The killer that inspired Rosenthal’s rant (whose actions don’t qualify as a mass shooting) bought his gun at a gun store after passing a background check. As did the Virginia Tech murderer. And the Isla Vista shooter. The Newtown shooter shot and killed his mother to obtain his firearms. And so on.

It’s also worth noting that “private gun dealers at gun shows” have to perform a background check on purchasers. Private gun sellers – not dealers – do not. (In most states.) Again, words matter. As for Rosenthal’s claim that criminals get guns from “gun shows” the facts don’t support him. Nick’s post Study: Criminals Don’t Use the “Gun Show Loophole” to Get Their Guns highlighted a recent study that concluded that “criminals aren’t buying their guns from gun shows or legal sources.” Not to mention an older DOJ study that reached the same conclusion.

Rosenthal’s reference to guns sold out of car trunks and backpacks (?) intentionally misdirects the reader. No matter where they occur, selling a gun to a felon is a crime. So even if Congress answered Rosenthal’s call to enact federal legislation requiring background checks on all private sales – already in place in eight states – what are the odds that the law would stop criminal sales to criminals? Exactly zero. Just like the odds that the real estate developer will answer any of these points in public. Still, John, the door is open.

47 Responses to An Open Challenge to Gun Control Proponent John Rosenthal: Defend Your Words

    • Actually, it does. Advertising is all about emotion. Every commercial evokes an emotional response to entice you to buy a product. If you watch TV, pay attention to the commercials. Study them. That is how the anti gun crowd works. They appeal to the emotions. Tug at the heart strings. Facts don’t matter. Facts just get in the way. Hitler was an expert in the matter. He wrote the book. The antis use that book.

      • Its interesting your reply to Rosenthal indeed focuses on the small points. In this context it doesn’t really matter whether all the mass murderers are mentally insane or not, whether the NRA blames mental illness, or whether they all get their guns at gun shows, out of trunks, etc. And Rosenthal gives you that window to avoid discussing points that matter. You’re both wrong.
        Rosenthal, like most anti’s, is desperately reaching for anything that seems it mght help solve the problem. Closing the gun show loophole wouldn’t do much to solve the problem, but it would be a common sense action to do something. Is it not understandable some people will do that in response to a maniac gunning down a bunch of kindergarners? So the next question should be, where is your common sense?
        Like the NRA’s reaction to these tragedies, you focus on small points to avoid it, and to avoid discussing the important points, to avoid the chance that doing so would lead to anything negative about gun culture in America. Laws are inadequate to fix the problem. The culture must address it and evolve to a more healthy state. Gun culture in America is skewed. It no longer prioritizes safety and responsibility, but instead takes a political defensive posture automatically. The only person at fault for the tragedy is the person doing it, but the reaction of the NRA only fuels the problem. There should never be a discussion of guns that does not include the importance of safety and being responsible in their handling. Maniacs will do maniac things, but gun advocates get lumped in with maniacs when their response to tragedy is to hit mourning families over the head with the 2nd amendment.

        • How is it ‘common sense’ to do something harmful that won’t solve the problem? That is the problem with you and all the other people bleating on about ‘common sense’. Your common sense is nothing of the sort. By your logic, we should require background checks before people sell their personal cars in a private sale because the Isla Vista spree killer ran over several people in his BMW.

        • Closing the gun show loophole wouldn’t do much to solve the problem, but it would be a common sense action to do something.

          One, there is no such thing as a “gun show loophole”. Two, even if there were, it would not “be a common sense action to do something”, because people commiting crimes with firearms are not purchasing them at gun shows.

          Is it not understandable some people will do that in response to a maniac gunning down a bunch of kindergarners?

          What maniac that gunned down a bunch of kindergarteners purchased his firearm(s) at a gun show?

          Laws are inadequate to fix the problem. The culture must address it and evolve to a more healthy state.

          The “gun culture” is not to blame. Criminals are to blame. The gun culture is not responsible for criminals, nor for criminal behavior, nor for criminals being armed.

          The “gun culture” is not in an unhealthy state. The “gun culture” – i.e. the 100,000,000 law-abiding gun owners – are the single most law-abiding demographic in the entire country.

          Gun culture in America is skewed. It no longer prioritizes safety and responsibility, but instead takes a political defensive posture automatically.

          Absurd. It is the “gun culture” that pushes firearms safety most frequently and most ardently. Accidental injuries and fatalities due to negligent firearms discharges are at an all-time low. It is the “gun culture” that preaches the Four Cardinal Rules, that created and promotes programs such as Eddie Eagle, that brings youth, women, and new gun owners of all demographics to gun ranges, firearms classes, and competitive shooting.

          Those activities are not mutually exclusive from also taking a very necessary political stance.

          There should never be a discussion of guns that does not include the importance of safety and being responsible in their handling.

          Again, absurd. When someone kills someone with a knife, must the “discussion” include proper knife storage? When someone drowns another in a pool, bathtub, or toilet, must the “discussion” include proper swimming pool safety? When someone gets drunk and kills someone while driving drunk, must the “discussion” include seatbelt safety or airbag maintenance?

          Maniacs will do maniac things, but gun advocates get lumped in with maniacs when their response to tragedy is to hit mourning families over the head with the 2nd amendment.

          Gun advocates do no such thing. Perhaps you should talk to Momma Shannon and Daddy Ladd, about their proclivity for dancing in the blood of dead victims, and attempting to use those deaths caused by criminal acts, in order to push their political agenda.

      • Thats ironic. Fear and paranoia are emotions, those are the prevailing message of the gun crowd. The anti gun crowd appeals to emotion too. Emotion typically caused by the fact a bunch of people were murdered in a movie theatre or a kindergarten classroom. The only thing that fact gets in the way of, is the gun crowd’s desire to avoid discussing that not every idiot in America should have a gun.
        Facts are lost on both sides.

        • The only thing that fact gets in the way of, is the gun crowd’s desire to avoid discussing that not every idiot in America should have a gun.

          Here’s a fact for you: every law-abiding person has a natural, constitutionally protected right to have a gun.

        • @Bob Simonhouse

          “Facts are lost on both sides.”

          Here’s a cold, hard, raw fact for you.

          Death by firearm is down roughly 50 percent over the past 25 years.

          Deal with the criminals, no the law abiding.

        • “The only thing that fact gets in the way of, is the gun crowd’s desire to avoid discussing that not every idiot in America should have a gun.”

          I/you/they/we should do this, I/you/they/we should do that, does not equal what I/you/they/we can, or can not do, or what I/you/they/we will do or won’t do. In other words, just because every idiot in America shouldn’t have a gun, doesn’t mean that every idiot in America can’t, or worn’t, get a gun if they want one – one way or the other.

          To read your sentence in another way (perhaps more accurately): YOU don’t WANT every idiot in America to own a gun, and don’t think they should, despite the REALITY, that if idiots want a gun, they can get one [emphasis, mine].

          On this point, I agree. Where we disagree, is our conclusions. My conclusion is that because reality has demonstrated numerous times that idiots will get guns, regardless of laws, and that the police have no obligation to protect me, it’s then my responsibility to protect myself with the best possible means available, and in accordance with the law. Since I have an individual, constitutionally protected right to own and use a firearm – and firearms are the best possible means of protection available – then I choose a firearm.

          Your conclusion, and I’m guessing here (I’m no psychic), appears to be: We (as in the government, not the people) must do something, anything, regardless of it’s effectiveness, stop these idiots from getting guns.

          My opinion: my conclusion is the adult decision to take my well being into my own hands – the only person who can truly be responsible for myself; your conclusion is the child’s decision to run to an authoritarian figure and cry foul until the child gets what he wants.

        • @Bob Simonhouse — What’s ironic is that you have it exactly backwards, and on top of that there is literally no excuse whatsoever for you to not have already realized this. Fear and paranoia are the prevailing message of the anti-gun crowd, and that is because the anti-gun crowd is the one that deals in emotion. Exclusively. The only fact that gets in the way of anything is the anti-gun crowd’s desire to avoid discussing the salient fact that they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, which causes them to misdirect the entire conversation — just like you’re doing now — into dangerous territory. i.e. Forcible confiscation and the mass murder of peaceable citizens by the state.

          Facts are only lost on the anti-gun side. They have no facts to argue with in the first place, they never did and they never will. Period.

    • Facts trump emotion when you are dealing with reasonable and rational people. Our nation is being continually re-populated by voters who simply cannot differentiate between an emotional argument and a rational one. Politicians and speech writers know this. Millions of useful imbeciles are so enthralled by “a thousand points of light” and “Hope and Change” that they were easily manipulated into voting for their charismatic candidate.

      Those of us who still reason with facts, reason and the scientific method are an endangered species. Our mainstream media, statist politicians and liberal progressive public schools are doing their best to marginalize and eliminate independent thought.

    • “Since he can only argue with emotion”

      ———————

      *Gun-Control* ..

      *Rosenthal* ..

      Since when do either of those things deal in facts?

  1. Private gun dealers dealing out of backpacks…dang, that’s some low overhead cost. How do I find these backpack dealers?

      • “Dissent is not allowed” is a very nice way of saying that they will scream at you to shut up while they tell you what you are supposed to think and that there will be a severe penalty if you get it wrong, because we are too stupid to think on our own.

    • He wants a discussion where only he is allowed to speak and nobody is allowed to refute his claims.
      A lecture. He wants to lecture us. He wants to dictate to us.

      Liberals want conservatives to shut up. Conservatives want liberals to keep talking.

  2. After every high profile mass shooting…

    (Which would be essentially every shooting, these days, thanks to your friends in the complicit MSM.)

    …the NRA and its supporters in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, blame mental illness versus asking the appropriate question — how did the mentally ill person or criminal access firearms without a thorough background check or detection?

    Most criminals obtain their firearms through illegal means, not through lawful FFL purchases or lawful private transfers. Most mentally ill – who enjoy due process, despite if not moreso because of their mental illness – have not been legally adjudicated as unfit to possess firearms due to their mental illness. Therefore, a background check would not hinder such people from lawfully purchasing a firearm.

    The answer is simple: thanks to Congress, federal gun policy allows unrestricted gun access without a criminal background check or detection in over 30 states from private gun dealers…

    WRONG. There is no such thing as a “private gun dealer”. There is a private transfer of a personally owned firearm, and there are firearms dealers, who under federal law are required to be licensed.

    …at gun shows…

    Private transfers can lawfully take place anywhere. But at gun shows, the vast majority – in fact, likely all of the exhibitors – of transfers happen by/through FFLs. Private sellers don’t tend to be exhibitors, because you typically have to pay for table space at a gun show, and that’s cost-prohibitive to private sellers who are usually just trying to sell/trade one or two personal firearms.

    …online and out of car trunks and backpacks…

    Online sales involving FFLs also require background checks. Private sales, no matter where they originate or take place, do not.

    The people buying out of car trunks and backpacks are generally criminals. Please, do tell me the law that will compel a criminal to conduct a background check for a black-market firearm sale.

    Only federally licensed gun dealers are required to run a background check on gun purchasers, however criminals and the dangerously mentally ill know all too well, if you can’t pass a background check, no worries, buy from a private gun dealer-no questions asked.

    Yes, and they’ve known that for years – even before the implementation of Brady checks. In fact, the implementation of Brady checks had an almost indiscernible impact on the behavior of criminals. Before background checks and after background checks, criminals obtained their firearms through non-FFL means almost 90% of the time.

    Enacting nationwide laws that require background checks for private firearms transfers will have even less impact on criminals, because they’re criminals, which means that, by definition, they don’t obey laws.

    Background checks do nothing but inconvenience (at best) or violate the rights of (at worst) the law-abiding.

    • About the only background check bill I could get behind, other that total elimination, would enable citizens to obtain a NICS check privately on themselves. So that when I sell to someone who doesn’t currently hold a CCW, they could show they are good to go. But in all my dealings with FTF purchases, all sellers want a CCW or other form to show you are not a felon. I would venture to say that most people are good honest folk and would not sell to shady characters.

  3. So John Rosenthal is colossally ignorant or a willful liar…I am picking the latter because his refusal to meet you face-to-face indicates he knows full well his statements will not stand up to fact-checking any grade school kid could conduct with a laptop and internet access. Laughable, except for the fact he gets to publish his prevarication in a major media/opinion outlet widely read by others who are colossally ignorant or have no regard for facts and truth.

  4. This is a yet another example of someone saying “We have do something about mass shootings for the children” and then bringing up statistics on firearms-related violent crime as a whole. That’s intellectually dishonest.

    “Mass shootings” (more accurately known as spree killings) are a very specific subset of violent crime that have very different rules from literally the rest of violent crime. Attempting to reduce one will have little to no effect on reducing the other.

  5. I figure a clear sign of the second coming will be when the anti-2nd amendment crowd actually says something that is not a lie.

  6. He doesn’t care about facts and he is pandering to people who also don’t care about facts. It never been about the facts because facts are not on their side, it is about emotion, plain and simple.

  7. The Columbine killers did not buy their guns from a private seller at a gun show. They were too young. They did have a straw buyer buy the guns for them (one of their girlfriends, who could have passed a background check anyway).

    So since someone violated the law on straw purchases and gave guns to underage teens and those guns were used in a massacre, what did the ATF and US DoJ do to the straw buyer?

    NOTHING!

    Not a single thing. They refused to prosecute. I’ll believe straw purchases and the “gun show loophole” are problems when they government acts like it’s a problem. (And maybe not even then).

  8. I do not now, nor have I ever blamed the mentally ill. But I sure as all Hell blame the people who coddle and protect a desperately ill individual who is a known danger to everybody within 50 miles. The VA Tech shooter was protected by the administration, not the NRA, similarly the maniac in LA and the more ambitious maniac in CONN were both protected by their families, not the NRA. Let’s be clear, by protected I do not mean saved from harm since they were plainly incapable of the simplest tasks on a repetitive basis. They were insulated time and again from the consequences of their dire inability to have any recognizable form of acceptable social interaction. Challenged? ‘differently abled’? in primary school perhaps but by the time they were adults and were allowed adult freedom of movement they were dangerously crazy and an obscene amount of time and PC effort went into injecting them where they not only did not belong but could not remotely be helped.

    So, let’s see if somewhere north of 3/4 of firearms murders are gang related and a sub minority of the remainder is accounted for by local idiots or most recently, Left wing, failed homosexual prostitutes just exactly how is any single one of us giving up their firearms and 2nd Amendment rights going to change anything?

  9. Robert, let me correct you on one statement you made (again, since words matter):

    ” No matter where they occur, selling a gun to a felon is a crime.” Actually, KNOWINGLY selling a gun to a felon is a crime. If I don’t know or ask the question “are you a felon” before I engage in a private sale, it is hard for Uncle Sam to prosecute me. However, if said gun purchaser has gang tats, has drug paraphernalia around him/her, tells me they don’t have a driver’s license because of a DUI, admits to a restraining order, or gives me an indication that a REASONABLE PERSON would know or should know that they are a felon, then I have acted with such gross negligence that I would have a hard time arguing that I did not knowingly sell. Hence, that is why a lot of people I have bought guns from privately have done a bill of sale that has me admit I am not a felon or fugitive, and they ask to see my DL.

  10. Rosenthal is a real estate developer, which is a group with a reputation for integrity right up there with politicians and Brian Williams. You may choose to speak to him, but by all means check your wallet afterwards.

  11. The photo shows still more of the anti’s lack of thinking skills. “Federal Assault Weapons Ban Now… X people killed by guns!” Okay, so because X poeple were killed using guns, this guy wants to end legal civilian ownership of so-called assault weapons. But what portion of X was with legally-owned civilian “assault weapons”? How would his proposed solution even help?

    If someone put up a sign, “Y people killed in vehicle collisions, ban electric cars now!” people would immediately see through the non-sequitur, but in the context of guns they just turn off their brains.

  12. you expected more than straw-man, factual error and false equivalency from a group who’s primary mission in life requires the sort of double-think that can only come from the thorough and consistent use of such logical fallacies? Silly rabbit.

  13. Rosenthal can’t argue with facts, only rhetoric and propaganda. He will not put himself in a position where he will look bad.

  14. “No matter where they occur, selling a gun to a felon is a crime.”

    I am not an FFL. If I sell a gun locally online and have the buyer sign a bill of sale stating he may legally own a firearm and check his ID, how am I to know if he’s a felon? If I’m not legally required to run background check why should I be held responsible?

  15. Anti civil rights progressive will do anything to deny the people their rights. I’m sure this white man lives in a safe neighborhood with regular police patrols. I’m sure he has the police on his speed dial. Rich white men like this one are the ones causing the most trouble in our country.

    • I am sure this rich white man has a gun in his very expensive car to protect him, his family, and his possessions.

    • “Rich white men like this one are the ones causing the most trouble in our country.”

      They console themselves with the knowledge that they ‘care’ about the little people.

  16. selling a gun to a felon is a crime

    No, it’s not. It’s a crime for a felon to buy a gun, it’s not a crime to unknowingly sell a gun to a felon. In fact, the FBI/ATF prohibits citizens from accessing the background check system.

  17. @Bob Simonhouse — What’s ironic is that you have it exactly backwards, and on top of that there is literally no excuse whatsoever for you to not have already realized this. Fear and paranoia are the prevailing message of the anti-gun crowd, and that is because the anti-gun crowd is the one that deals in emotion. Exclusively. The only fact that gets in the way of anything is the anti-gun crowd’s desire to avoid discussing that they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, which causes them to misdirect the entire conversation — just like you’re doing now — into dangerous territory. i.e. Forcible confiscation and the mass murder of peaceable citizens by the state.

    Facts are only lost on the anti-gun side. They have no facts to argue with in the first place, they never did and they never will. Period.

  18. Actually, James Holmes was and is “mentally ill,” certifiably so. He is a paranoid schizophrenic who was forcibly medicated so that he could stand trial. What he was not, and what the jury found, was that he was not “insane” within the very narrow legal definition of “insanity” that is a defense to the mens rea element of intentional homicide. Under the famous M’Naughten test 9applied in Colorado), a person is not “insane” if he could appreciate what he was doing and knew the wrongfulness of his conduct. Holmes knew what he was doing, and that it was wrong, but believed that the only way to stop the voices in his head was to kill lots of people.

  19. The 2nd Amendment was created so the people could DEFEND themselves FROM a corrupt and evil government. It is sad and unfortunate that innocent people are being killed. If the debate stopped and people armed themselves the people with criminal intent might think twice. As it is now the criminal, government and non government believes the victim is not armed so does what he chooses. mrpresident2016.com

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