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South by Southwest (SXSW) is the annual music, film, and miscellaneous lecture festival that clogs the streets of Austin every March with tens of thousands of out-of-towners who don’t know how to use frontage roads. This year it also drew the heads of some of the foremost anti-gun organizations in America. Mark Glaze, the Executive Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, lead a panel discussion on Saturday that featured Shannon Watts, the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder, Peter Ambler, founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions and Stephen Geer, also of Mayors Against Illegal Guns . . .

Of all of the throngs choking the capitol at SXSW this week, a crowd of only 40-50 turned out to tepidly welcome the gun grabbers to the most liberal city in Texas. The title of the discussion was “Disrupting the Gun Lobby With Digital Organizing” which may have been a bit too technical for some of the SXSW attendees who seemed to gravitate more towards the “Age of the Alchemist: A D&D Approach to UX Design” lecture that was being given down the hall at the same time (to be honest I actually would have rather been there too).


Still, the show must go on, so Mark, Peter, Shannon, and Stephen pushed through. While they detailed ways their groups are utilizing social media and data mining to raise money and try to counter the gun lobby’s grass roots advantages, the crux of their discussion seemed to be that gun deaths can be prevented if we just force everyone to undergo a background check every time they purchase a gun. No one was really clear on just how that would work, but they all agreed that they certainly don’t want to take away anyone’s guns and, of course, they all respect the Second Amendment.


They just want “common sense” legislation because, as Mr. Glaze said, “folks on the right believe that everyone should get a background check and that doing much more to keep guns out of the wrong hands…goes hand in hand with protecting the Second Amendment.” It just becomes a question of whose hands are the wrong ones and which guns we are talking about I suppose. Obviously crazy people shouldn’t have guns…right?

Well, maybe not. Mr. Glaze also made sure to mention that a lack of mental healthcare was not the real issue here. As he correctly pointed out, the majority of murders aren’t committed by lunatics with assault rifles, they are committed by thugs with handguns. So while mental illness is, he says, a bad thing, “don’t let the NRA distract you with that bright, shiny object.”

So criminals are the problem. As long as we keep guns away from convicted felons and violent people, we won’t have a gun death rate “twenty-five times that of the UK.” That’s what those universal background checks are designed to do. Of course some people take issue with that and say that we already have laws on the books that prohibit selling guns to convicted felons and that make straw-purchases illegal and that make it a crime for convicted felons to possess firearms or ammunition, so why do we need more laws? Some people would even have the audacity to point out that the gun laws that we already have on the books aren’t being enforced and that additional restrictions only hurt law abiding gun owners by preventing them from owning or using firearms to defend themselves and others from criminals.

Some people like Drue Placette, whose father was killed last year during an armed robbery at a Denny’s in Houston. Mr. Placette, a Marine Corps veteran and current software developer, told the panel that his father was gunned down by a multiple-convicted felon who was out on bail for murder, and that his friend (who was there and had a CHL but wasn’t carrying at the time because he had to contend with gun-free zones) was helpless to stop it. Mr. Glaze told him that he was very sorry for his loss and moved on.

There is, Glaze said, a disconnect in America today. Gun control, he argued, is as American as apple pie (citing an unsourced statistic that as many Americans like apple pie as support universal background checks). The problem, he says, is that people in rural communities don’t understand gun violence. The communities they live in have high rates of gun ownership and low crime rates so they can’t possibly understand how it feels to grow up in an inner city surrounded by gun violence. Blame the rubes, as it were.

Of course, Mr. Glaze might be confusing cause and effect and perhaps those rural communities with lots of guns have low crime rates because of those guns and not in spite of them. Or maybe, as Mr. Placette suggested, it’s a difference of values between people in high crime areas and those in low crime areas. Maybe the reason that people outside of cities are largely “anti gun law reform” is because, as Mr. Glaze said, people in rural areas have a natural distrust of government because they tend to not use government services and so they don’t see the good things that government regulations can do.

Or maybe it’s just that most people can see that the Second Amendment is pretty clear when it says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and these and other members of the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex are simply fighting a losing battle.

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  1. Thanks for the writeup, and for putting yourself through that. I can’t watch the videos right now, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. Placette had to say.

  2. I can’t believe I missed this at SxSW. It probably hurt their attendance that they were the first session in the morning after the first night of Sx in which everyone was recovering from hangovers from the night before.

    anything else gun related at SxSW I should see?

    Would love to see some other TTAGers while here. I am here til Wednesday if anyone wants to grab a taco or some deep eddys sweet tea vodka!

    • That’s what I was thinking too. Wish I could have attended to contribute to the pro gun message during their gun hate speech.

      …could have also thrown a pie in Shannon’s face, you could film it! YouTube here we come.

    • ….or even better, I could have sold you a gun in her session right in the front row.

  3. Did Shannon have on a nice perfume! I mean, did she smell good? I can see what she is wearing but I am wondering about her siren lure. 🙂

  4. What I want to know is:
    1) How will you make sure that all sales between private parties include a background check?
    2) If it’s universal registration you want, how will you enforce that?

    I have heard “We should register them like cars.” Yeah, and it’s soooo easy for a criminal to tuck a car in his pants. The reason car registration(mostly) works is that cars are big honkin things that aren’t carried and are extremely difficult to conceal. If you drive an unregistered car on the street, it’s pretty obvious, unless you have another plate from another vehicle…

    And also, ask why you can’t force drug dealers to sell at the pharmacy instead of the street.

    • And of course vehicle registration really doesn’t work at all within the same criminal underclass that generates most violent crime. Get in a car accident in Detroit and the other driver is liable to just get out and run away, because they either lack a license, or registration, or the car is just flat out stolen.

    • If guns were registered like cars, then we wouldn’t need any kind of government permission to own and use any number of any kind, as long as they’re on our property.

      If we want to carry them, we just need one license that includes a knowledge test and a performance evaluation. No background checks ever.

      I’m okay with this.

      • Except that they keep an active registry of cars and their owners on file for immediate access whenever they want it. The reason that isn’t a problem is because they would look stupid if they came out on national TV and said that sports cars were illegal, and we need gas tank restrictions.

      • No. Registration leads to confiscation. There have only been a handful of examples in history where that hasn’t happened. And do you really trust that our current government wouldn’t abuse a national gun registry in any way? I certainly don’t. In fact, I refuse to deal with any FFL. I don’t trust that the ATF really does delete the information from the background check forms (despite that federal law requires it). I’m not a prohibited individual, but I don’t submit to background checks.

    • Study after study shows that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of guns that get into the hands of criminals are obtained first, second, or third hand through theft. The trade generally goes: gun is stolen, gun is sold on the black market/traded for drugs, gun/drug dealer sells stolen gun to third party.

      Where, in that chain of criminals dealing with other criminals, is someone going to do a background check? Is the guy who just stole the gun going to call in a 4473 on the guy giving him some crack for his heater?

      When pro-gunners make the statement “but criminals don’t follow the law anyway” this is what we mean.

    • man – had I known she was gonna be there, I would have come. I can see the video now “Umm, Ms. Watts, hi. Umm, can I call you Shannon? My name is Dirk.” and then to see the look on her face would have been priceless.

  5. Digital organizing? Earth to the grabbers, you are pushing death & the only thing you have are some corrupt politicians & a guy with a pen. I think you will need more.

  6. It seems that the antis have been reduced to pushing for a scheme that most people understand is impossible to achieve.

  7. You can’t argue with people that see others exercising rights they don’t like as sub-human.

    • At first I thought you said “How to throw Tarantulas on the Internet.” Much scarier a concept, throwing spiders via the inter-tubes.

  8. … they all agreed that they certainly don’t want to take away anyone’s guns and, of course, they all respect the Second Amendment.

    One can be snarky about it, but it is actually a good thing that 2nd Amendment is shown some deference by all sides in the debate nowadays.

    I would like to know, however, what legislation those organizations would not support due to its being too extreme. As just one example, if they support 10-round magazine limits as reasonable, does that mean they find the NYC 5-round limit to be extreme and inappropriate? This is not the only issue – other specific questions of this sort can be reasonably asked.

  9. I wonder how many of that 40 or 50 attendees were folks like Messrs. Brooks and Placette–actually on the “other side” and attending just to see what the enemy was up to. Oh, and how many “journalists” there just to “cover” the event.

  10. Glaze’s double talk is so fast my head is spinning. He says criminals, who don’t obey even existing gun laws, are the problem so we need more ineffective and unenforceable laws.

    They say that assault rifles and mental illness aren’t the problems, but they want an “assault weapons” ban.

    Universal background checks? Give me a break. A student at Arapahoe HS bought a shotgun (not AR), passed his background check, paid the new fee and broke no law until he walked onto campus (a gun free zone), fatally shot a fellow student and committed suicide after being confronted with deadly force by an armed LEO. It could have been worse for my son and others that day, but neither Glaze or Watts live in my world.

    Their incoherence proves they have one agenda – increase their own power, make a good living from Bloomberg largesse and confiscate guns in our lifetime.

    No way, no how and not going to happen.

  11. There is perhaps a glimmer of hope in their acknowledgement that violent crime happens mainly where people are piled on top of one another in large cities. And there is certainly enough data to show that this crime has nothing to do with lawful gun ownership.

    The next step is getting the liberals to acknowledge the real cause of that violence: Liberal policies and “social programs” that have allowed generations of inner-city residents to grow up in a world devoid of personal responsibility.

    Yeah. That one will take some time.

  12. So basically, rural dwellers notice that crime is low where they are, with relaxed gun laws, and crime is high in the cities, with strong gun control. But we lack the “intellectual sophistication” to look at the obvious right in front of our faces and deliberately believe the opposite, is that it?

    • I LOL’d at that one. That’s total and complete intellectual fail. And we’re the dumb ones. How can someone even make that argument with a straight face?

  13. They can try to candy coat it all they want, but we know these laws don’t do anything to stop violence. The dishonesty with these kind of people is very alarming and quite sad.

  14. They constantly state they support the 2nd and don’t want to take peoples guns yet they ALWAYS cite England where the government took nearly everyone’s guns.

    • Exactly. And if there was a shred of honesty in them they would be citing the violent crime rates of the US and the UK, rather than focus on crimes committed with guns. On wait, the numbers work the other way around when they do that…

  15. I see logic and critical thinking again escape these people. If they did even basic research they would crush their own ideas. Of course they wouldn’t like that so they only take the parts they can skew and warp to fit their failure if an agenda.

  16. “Mr. Placette, a Marine Corps veteran and current software developer, told the panel that his father was gunned down by a multiple-convicted felon who was out on bail for murder, and that his friend (who was there and had a CHL but wasn’t carrying at the time because he had to contend with gun-free zones) was helpless to stop it.”

    That man’s father, Robert Placette, was a brave and honorable man. He died while trying to shield children from the robbers’ attacks. Robert Placette’s CHL carrying friend, Jonathan Ochoa, well, maybe not so much. If you’re going to have a carry license, then carry the firearm.

    Frankly, I don’t believe that Mr. Ochoa even was unarmed at the time. In my personal opinion, not presented as fact, but purely personal opinion, I suspect he was armed that night, but just didn’t have the {fortitude} to act. Now he’s claiming gun-free zones kept him from carrying that night? What gun free zone?

    I’ve eaten at that particular Denny’s many, many times, as it’s situated more or less in the middle of the city, adjacent to Interstate 10, on the way to everything. Denny’s restaurants are franchised, which means there are corporate polices for everyone and some that apply additionally only to specific restaurants. Regardless of what either layer of policy may hold in regard to concealed carry at this particular Denny’s, there have never been any legal gun free signs posted at the location, at least prior to this event, in my experience.

    This particular robbery took place at 10:40 p.m. on a Monday night. What circumstances would have prevented Mr. Ochoa from legally carrying, other than imaginary signs at Denny’s? Was he on his way to/from work? You can keep legally keep your gun in your car at work, per Texas law. I’m not seeing any facts to support his claim. It’s entirely possible that he just wasn’t carrying that day, for whatever reason or no reason, but when he goes further and tries to blame his failure to act on gun free zones, that’s too much too swallow and smacks of simply having frozen in a time of crisis and now trying to cover it up.

    And while you think about that, think about this: this incident took place on 8-26-13. Another Denny’s, right on the Gulf Freeway maybe 10 miles away from this one, also saw gunfire. This time, on 8-8-13, just a couple or so weeks prior, a woman with a CHL had a shootout with six, count ’em, SIX, attackers in the middle of the restaurant. She’d just exited the bathroom to find them robbing her husband. She’s not been charged with illegally carrying a firearm. So much for the Denny’s was a legally gun free zone myth, Mr. Ochoa.

  17. Gun laws don’t do anything! The only common sense thing to do is arm everyone! This is America, no one is entitled to feel like they are living in a safe and reasonable environment where people use reason and logic. The extremely limited laws regarding guns have clearly not worked so far. If there were no gun laws at all Columbine would have never happened, Sandy Hook would have never happened! How are these gun grabbers so oblivious to common sense? I think our main priority should be to show how much good guns do. We need to make a concerted effort to help arm every inner city minority with an ample supply of firepower. By arming these groups most associated with violence and crime we can once and for all prove to everyone that if everyone is armed no one is in danger. Who’s with me?

    • “How are these gun grabbers so oblivious to common sense?”

      Simple answer, I don’t believe for a second they are. I believe the term “willfully obtuse” comes closer to the truth.

  18. “Disrupting the Gun Lobby with Digital Organizing”

    So, the game is shutting them up – “disrupting” – rather than persuading, and it’s not citizens with a point of view, but some nefarious influence group – “the Gun Lobby.”

    Debating policy – good. Going at the premise – better. Going at a premise that makes them look bad to their own peeps – best of all. This is the word delivered to us by dear Uncle Saul:

    “‘Disrupting’ seems kind of anti-democratic, what’s up with that? Don’t people get to speak?”

    “Do you mean gun owners who lobby, or some other, nefarious influence group? The people who flooded Albany after the SAFE act weren’t organized by NRA or anybody else, but themselves.”

    “So, by ‘social media’ you mean things like meetup, twitter, facebook and so on? Well, that’s exactly how those Albany protesters organized, and in Texas, and Tennessee, and … the list is pretty near endless. Indeed they’ve been remarkably effective at organizing counter-protests that tend to outnumber the initial ant-gun protest.

    Borrowing the tactics of your more successful opponents is always a good idea, so good on you for that. But, who’s the troglodyte rubes here if those gun nuts are out e-organizing us? If we’re dissing them for not wearing skinny jeans and hipster beards, that seems kind of shallow. They seem to argue facts, and use technology to make their point. We seem to kinda suck in contrast.”

    NEVER let the unspoken premise slide. Make them own it. ALWAYS draw out the contradictions in their unspoken assumptions. (And yes, I actually do this.)

    • “NEVER let the unspoken premise slide. Make them own it. ALWAYS draw out the contradictions in their unspoken assumptions. (And yes, I actually do this.)”

      Classic “how to debate with liberals” tactic. And just a darn good, solid debate tactic overall.

      So simple. So effective.

      • Oh, it’s wonderful. And so much fun. Locks their little brains right up.

        The demeanor matters, too. I go to an antic kind of half-joshing delivery for this kind of stuff, kind of commenting from the side of the debate on what’s going on – debating without debating. I’m just the kid laughing at the un-strapped Emperor.

  19. Amazing how much “work” Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly do for their PAC when they send out staffers to fight their corner.

  20. So Allen,
    With an estimated 40-50 attendees that means you alone drove the attendance numbers up by 2%

    Add in just Mr. Placette and the anti-gun-control audience was at least 4%

    I wonder how many more of “us” were in that room???

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