Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun follies

We have had so many horrific mass shootings in this country, I'm not sure why the shooting of 20 first-graders would make a difference. After all, 12 were killed in a theater in Aurora, CO, 6 were killed in Tucson, thirteen at Columbine, 37 at Virginia Tech, etc.

So I don't understand the change, but there does seem to be a change. Sen. Joe Manchin,  a blue-dog Democrat from gun-toting West Virginia, wants to sit down with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and figure out some workable gun controls that will prevent this from happening again. He is shocked by this killing spree. I'm not, but I've been watching the trends, and this seems of the same piece.

Bob McDonnell, governor of Virginia, plugs the most common gun supporter solution, which is that we need to protect ourselves by having more guns, such as guns in schools. I totally agree with this. We need guns in our high schools, middle schools, grade schools, nursery schools, maternity wards, and Lamaze classes.

The NRA has kept quiet, but finally announced that they will have a press conference where they'll present "meaningful contributions." Great news, except that they've scheduled the conference for Friday, December 21. Maybe it'll be in the afternoon, right before the long Christmas holiday weekend.

I can think of two reasons that the NRA would schedule for that time:
  1. They are going to say something that will anger their usual supporters.
  2. They aren't going to say anything to anger their usual supporters. 
I don't have much (or any?) respect for the NRA, so my bet is on #2. They'll just retread the usual talking points such as more concealed-carry, more enforcement of current laws, blah, blah, blah.

I've been for a less violent society and reasonable restraint in the sale and use of guns, but I've never seen a way to get there. Mandatory safety procedures (that is, laws) have consistently lost to gun rights forces. Compare this to the effective curbs on drunk-driving, both legal and social.

My response has been largely to give up the fight. I choose not to mount vain attempts to convince my fellow citizens to adopt values they clearly reject. I just quietly disagree and bear it, taking the bad along with the good in my country.

Maybe I shouldn't have given up, and there will be real change now. That's what happened after Timothy McVeigh (from my region of New York) blew up the federal building in Oklahoma. Perhaps it was because of the children killed there too.

Maybe in this country, you can kill any number of adults, college students, and high schoolers, and we won't change. But we will start to think about it when our tykes die. I'm sorry, but that is just dumb. I can't wrap my head around the idiocy of it. In future posts, I might comment again, but I might not. I had truly given up, and it's hard for me to change on a dime.

McDonnell's plan for Va kindergartens
Image: shellgunning.com

Update 12/19/12. I hope that readers don't find this post too callous. I'm not uncaring about the lives lost that can't be replaced, the lost children/brothers/sisters/mothers and everything they would have done with their lives. But I also always see the bigger picture and value honest, uncensored discussions of our human condition and ways to improve it.

Second update 12/18/12. Per the Wall Street Journal:
"Many gun-control advocates, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have charged that the group has contributed to a regulatory climate of easy gun access that makes such shootings more likely."
I agree that the NRA has contributed to the atmosphere that makes these mass shootings more likely. Pro-gun groups protest that's unfair to them. I may post evidence for my belief.

Here is the NRA's statement. It is short and worth a look so that you have it straight from the source.


Anonymous said...

It never makes sense to argue with a crazy person, or a stupid person, or a zealot. What they all have in common is a failure to grasp reality, no matter how obvious their factual or logical error. So it is with anyone who thinks the right to a gun offers some sort of protection.

For decades, those of us who have tired of the carnage, not just in these rampages but as reported daily on the local news, and seeing that this doesn't happen in Europe, and fed up with the additional cost to our society for "security", have patiently attempted to convince those parties above that there's a huge hidden cost to gun ownership in the country. We've further tried to make it clear that, no, the Constitution does not give carte blanche to its citizen owning guns, and that their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is both foolish and extreme. (My favorite retort is that the words "well-regulated" are in there.)

At our first opportunity, and this may be it, it's time to stop trying to convince and start forcing the issue. 99% of gun owners and wannbes will see no impact except a little lag time between wanting a gun and receiving it.

I don't have a set of proposals. I have a set of demands.

1) No more assault weapons outside of a) registered militias, or b) registered gun clubs and firing ranges, where those weapons must remain.

2) Massive restrictions and taxes on ammo beyond the minimum necessary for supposed "home or personal defense", except as per item 1). (Then again, most gun owners will still learn the hard way that the person shot with that ammo will almost certainly be someone they know and love.)

3) Licensing and annual relicensing for anyone owning a weapon and for anyone who will have access to the weapon, including extensive background checks. If a licensed party doesn't produce the weapons they have registered for inspection, they lose their license and face stiff penalties.

By far, the stupidest notion is that the Constitution gives citizens the right to own guns so that they can defend themselves against the government. First, I'm not sure who they think that would be, besides the police or army, as authorized by duly elected representatives. Second, even if that isn't the case, the "government" has planes, drones, tanks, bombs, missiles etc. If they are truly after you, your little assault weapon in your home won't do you any good.

But they sure are potent against first-graders, huh. It's time we made the NRA and gun-lovers and their politicians own that. Then we'll see some changes for the better.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, I have to question your critical thinking ability when you write that "anyone who thinks the right to a gun offers some sort of protection" is crazy, stupid, a zealot and unreasonable on this point.

If you can't think of circumstances when a gun can enhance your safety, especially someone who is intelligent, careful, and well-trained, then YOU are the one who can't have a reasonable discussion.

On the other hand, your "demands" aren't over the top, "over the top" being confiscation of large numbers of guns.

I also disagree that it's ridiculous for people to think they own guns partly to rebel if necessary against their government. That is what happened in the American revolution, so it's not as though there isn't a precedent. I wouldn't call it "stupid," which is needlessly insulting, as much as it is sentimental. Unfortunately, this is a strong sentiment that is reinforced frequently in rhetoric though luckily rarely in fact.

I think we need to start a cultural shift, though it's one that I didn't think I'd live to see. I'm definitely excited by this change, and I'll watch it closely.

Anonymous said...

"Crazy, stupid or zealot". Ok I shall make my point more diplomatically:

For every scenario anyone can think of for a private citizen (not a police officer or a soldier in wartime) to have and use a gun for "protection", I can offer half a dozen more likely scenarios on the same set of circumstances when having and/or using the gun results in a much worse result for that party.

Hence, it's a simple matter of clear critical thinking not to make that wager with the odds stacked against you. My debate opponent will be left with arguments of the gun giving the party a "fighting chance". Ok. I'll give them that. There's always a "chance". But then factor in that the gun doesn't magically appear. The party has to have it before the incident for some period of time, and they have to have it if no incident occurs for as long as they own it. And since during that time the weapon could be stolen, or used accidentally against an innocent party, or used for an impulsive suicide, does that party really want it for that "fighting chance" in an unlikely scenario?

Crazy, stupid or zealot. I stand by my statement.

ModeratePoli said...

@Anon, I've been researching concealed carry to find out whether it is beneficial or not, and I will be publishing a post sometime, though probably not before Christmas. My research contradicts some of what you say. It looks like concealed carry doesn't increase danger, so you are wrong when you lump all gun owners together and insult them all.

There are too many careless gun owners, but not nearly all of them are. Using too broad a brush reflects poorly on your arguments.

Without knowing how well trained or how careful a gun owner is, you are just broadly insulting them. That's not the way to engage in persuasion. Quit being a blowhard. There are already enough in this debate.

Anonymous said...


Can You name a gun law that has bee effective in reducing violent crime?

We have 26,000+ Gun Laws on the books in this country, regulating who can and can't have fire arms, where they can and can't carry them, Type, Caliber, Length, types of add ons, and none of those laws have done one thing to stop crimes like these, Even in Europe which has gun control laws that would make a liberal cream his jeans.

The most notable common thread through all of these crimes, and murder in general are Gun Free Zones, Be it Schools, Federal Building, Business Owners who Post Gun Free, or City ordinances, The most common fact is that the Law abiding citizen is legally stripped of the right of self defense, and The Criminal like any predator looks for and goes after the weak, or targets that can't defend them selves.

Right now there is a massacre going on in the middle east, Thousands of People who were by law denied the right to arms by law are dying in droves, But no one is calling it murder, Why Because it is being perpetrated by the Government entity that made the Laws which disarmed the people.

Now exactly what would the murder rate in Syria be compared to the U.S. If those murders were counted as the murders they are?

A freeman who can defend Himself is a Citizen, A Man who cannot defend Himself in a victim, and Government across the world have continually massacre their citizen and have used Gun Control to do so.

ModeratePoli said...


Thanks for coming to my blog. I can name a gun lay that reduced crime, and that was making private ownership of machine guns illegal. It reduced the weaponry that bootleggers had with good effect over time.

I'm not for large-scale restriction or confiscation. However, the mass shootings we've had need to be examined and ways to reduce the number should be discussed in reasonable, non knee-jerk ways.

A common thread to these killing is high capacity magazines, so we should look at the loss/benefit of changing our laws on those.

You aren't correct that a common thread where shootings occurred were gun-free zones. The parking lot in Tucson wasn't.

Also, having fewer gun-free zones doesn't mean that there will be people carrying there all the time and so shooters will be deterred. It might have a tiny marginal effect, but shooters like Lanza and Holmes will still look for the most conducive spots.

As for massacres going on the Middle East, there are massacres there partly because the area is awash with guns. In countries where there is a lot of gun ownership, they switch to bombings. So an armed citizenry doesn't guarantee safety in that region.

The better argument for individual gun ownership is that you then have more ability to defend yourself. However, that doesn't always translate into higher general safety.

Let's admit to each other that we aren't going to find a 100% solution, so don't aim for one. But isn't reasonable to look at some changes? I think so.