My view: Guns Kill People

gunsPolitics is often boiled down to its most base and absurd, when simplistic slogans replace rational thought and respectful discourse.  Every time we have a horribly tragic mass shooting – which is far too often in my mind – we get the interplay between the gun control advocates and the defenders of gun rights, including the NRA.

We often hear the slogan – guns don’t kill people, people do.   That is a foolish, ill-considered, and counter-intuitive statement.

A gun is a tool that makes it far easier to kill far more people.  It enhances the distance and range and speed of the killzone.

In short, while it is true that it requires a person at the other end of the trigger to use the gun, the gun facilitates the number of people likely to die.

If you do not believe me, go look up on Google how many drive-by knifings we had versus drive-by shootings.

However, at the same time, let us not delude ourselves into believing that banning weapons is going to stop the kinds of senseless killings we saw in Aurora, Colorado.

I am in favor of similar requirements to own a gun as we have to drive a car.  So if we wish to require licensing, testing, storage requirements, etc., I am all for it.  There is no logical argument that I can conceive of about why you would require people to train and test before driving a car, but not before owning a gun.

However, if you believe banning weapons is going to stop gun violence, I think you are completely wrong.

If you do not believe me, how long do you think it would take for me to purchase marijuana?  How long do you think it would take for me to purchase meth?

We have tremendous problems in this society with drugs, despite many classifications being illegal.  And being illegal means creating other problems.  We have enforcement costs and the collateral impact of the black market and smuggling operations.

We already have classes of guns that are banned and yet, how difficult do you think it is to actually get them?

The last thing I believe we need to do is create a full black market for gun sales.

So what do we do to stop gun violence?  I believe that strong new guns laws are not particularly useful.  California has a particularly harsh one.  If you have a gun in the commission of the crime, you get ten years.  If you use it, you get 20 years.  And if someone is injured or killed, you get life.

I do not think that solves our problem.  Serious crimes are already going to be accompanied by long sentences, so if you add a life sentence to a life sentence, I hardly see how that is going to reduce gun violence.

My first suggestion is somewhat counterintuitive – relax drug laws.  There are a huge number of people who have been incarcerated strictly for the personal use of drugs.  There is another class of people who have been incarcerated strictly for selling drugs.

Those people clog up our court system, they preoccupy our law enforcement, and most importantly they put a huge class of people under felony convictions.

Having a felony conviction, as author Michelle Alexander notes, has become “the new Jim Crow.”  How so, you ask?

Well, try getting a job that can pay for rent and your bills if you are a convicted felon.  In many states you cannot even vote after being convicted as a felon.  In short, it turns you into a second class citizen.

Some people think that you have to own the consequences for your mistakes.  I understand that belief.  But in reality, it means that there is a large group of people that can also not escape their past.

The surest way away from a life of crime is to get people who were once criminals and turn them into productive citizens.  We should be focusing on jobs, job training and education.  Yet, none of that will work if you have to place a checkmark on your employment form that says you were a felon.

Some have sought to ban the checkbox, but I think eliminating huge classes of crimes from consideration is an important step.

We saw a case recently where a man was charged with the crime of pimping.  He pled to it.  In the course of pleading to it, he was asked why he engaged in this behavior.  Ironically enough he said that he did it to pay his court fees for his previous conviction.

The judge, of course, admonished him to find a more appropriate means of income, but it does illustrate the dilemma.  We want people to get clean, get jobs, and be law abiding citizens, but at the same time, we make it next to impossible to do so, by eliminating huge swaths of jobs.

The second thing we need to do is invest in our mental health system.  Some on here have suggested forced commitments and forced psychiatric drug usage as a means to accomplish these.  I will not go that far.

One of the more interesting discussions of this year’s justice summit was a presentation by researchers showing the differences in MRI’s of the brains of people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, versus those of normal brains.

Science has advanced that we can now see that some of the psychiatrically diagnosed disorders are not just mental, but in fact physiological.  The question is, how do we deal with those?  That was part of the discussion, how does a new understanding of brain disorders help us to deal with sentencing and criminal culpability issues?

But for our discussion, it might help us understand how to prevent violence of this sort.  For me the Columbine Massacre is a great example of the failure to deal with young people who were on the verge of exploding.  Sadly, more than a decade later, we have made little progress on this.

Before we start discussing banning weapons, I think we need to figure out more effective ways of treating mental illness, depression, and other disorders which are at the root cause of these violent explosions.

But that does not fit either side’s political agenda, and it is far more difficult to figure out how to effectively treat mental illness than it is to talk about how many and which classes of weapons to ban.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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54 Comments

  1. Frankly

    I don’t agree with the slogan “guns kill people” any more than I agree with the slogans: “cars kill people”, or “fertilizers kills people”. However, I largely agree with David’s suggestions for solutions to gun violence. But, if we are really, really honest and determined to reduce incidences of gun violence in this country, we would also do the following:

    – Implement Stop and Frisk in all areas with high gun violence.

    – Increase penalties for illegal gun possession and use of a gun committing a crime.

    – Start a national dialog honestly dealing with the black family problem (70% births out of wedlock and missing fathers).

    – Build the high-tech wall on our southern border and significantly ramp up border enforcement to stop the flow of criminals illegal drugs and weapons. Note that this will also help prevent the flow of guns contributing to gun violence in Mexico.

  2. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I do not think that solves our problem. Serious crimes are already going to be accompanied by long sentences, so if you add a life sentence to a life sentence, I hardly see how that is going to reduce gun violence.[/quote]

    The longer the perp is sentenced, e.g robbery versus armed robbery, the less time s/he is out on the street committing crime, no?

    [quote]Start a national dialog honestly dealing with the black family problem (70% births out of wedlock and missing fathers). [/quote]

    How about a national dialogue honestly dealing with the family problem of no marriage, which results in births out of wedlock and missing fathers, never mind the particular ethnicity? Fewer and fewer couples are committing to each other/entering into marriage. Where does that leave the children of such loose relationships?

  3. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Before we start discussing banning weapons, I think we need to figure out more effective ways of treating mental illness, depression, and other disorders which are at the root cause of these violent explosions.[/quote]

    And what would those more effective ways be? Mental illness is very difficult problem to deal with, with no easy answers. But I’m open to suggestions…

  4. Frankly

    Elaine: I agree that we should address this problem of a breakdown of the family in general; but it is factual that blacks as a group are significantly over-represented in out of weblock births and missing fathers. They are also significantly over-represented in gun deaths. I don’t know we can solve these problems if we cannot openly and frankly discuss them.

    One conundrum that I foresee with decriminalization of drugs is that our inner city underclass population will most likely be plagued with greater problems of substance abuse. This would then lead to a potential for even a greater weakening of the family unit. We are somewhat damned if we do and damned if we don’t. But, someone with a substance abuse problem can get treatment and turn theior life around. Conversely, someone with a criminal record will have their life opportunities limited even if they too turn their life around.

    But regardless of the path we take related to our drug laws and enforcement, there is an issue of culture and morality that is broken with respect to the family unit. I agree that this cuts across race and demographic groups; but it is statistically a much bigger problem with blacks as a group. The issue with us dancing around these facts to prevent hurt feelings is that we won’t do enough to solve the problems. People like Bill Cosby have been demonoized and attacked for speaking the frank truth about bad behaviors that contribute to these problems. I thought one of the great social benefits to electing Obama President was that we would start to open this dialog. Unfortunately, it seems to be that we have retreated.

  5. JustSaying

    “My first suggestion (to stop gun violence) is somewhat counterintuitive – relax drug laws.”

    Somewhat counterintuitive?! You’ve conflated in an interesting way three worthy goals, all of which are pretty hopeless in our lifetimes.

    The less serious drug offenses, the ones that have hope to be relaxed into misdemeanors or non-crimes, are not the ones that result in gun violence. Drug dealing and other more serious drug offenses aren’t likely to to find shorter-term penalties with all the tough-on-crime folks around.

    We’re much more likely to relax gun laws. Oh, yeah, we just did that with the assault rifle ban. There aren’t many guns that can’t legally be bought by the dozens with almost no controls or checks at “gun shows.” I think bazookas our outlawed, and anti-tank missiles, but I’m not positive.

    “People with guns kill people.” More surely than with any other weapon. Including their sad effectiveness with suicide victims. But, you wouldn’t even know that guns were the weapons of choice for the Colorado killer, listening to our two Presidential contenders bemoaning the deaths. It’s as if all politicians fear that they’re in the gunsights of two dozen NRA members 24 hours a day.

    Of course, some people think that it’s money rather than Ccnstitutional rights at play, that gun companies are making enough profits to buy and/or scare everyone of them on their own.

    Spending more money on mental health and the mentally disabled? You are kidding, right? All was lost when we closed the institutions and promised care in our neighborhoods.

    So, good luck on your new campaigns. Hate to see you get your heart broken in so many ways.

    P.S.–Your old campaign, no extra penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime, is even more quixotic a venture. It’s odd that you seem to accept the fact that guns are a dangerous addition to criminal acts, but you don’t want to penalize it even in conjunction with non-serious crimes. I’d say, give up on this one and concentrate on your worthwhile efforts.

    P.P.S.–I’ll be checking out your pimping tale on Snopes.com. Where did this happen?

  6. Steve Hayes

    “…Columbine Massacre, ……Aurora Theater Massacre…….”

    Since both of these massacres (and many others for that matter) occurred in weapon free areas (schools, theaters, etc.), it appears that the lack of a defensive weapon resulted in gratuituous and excessive death and injury among the victims. Guns save people too*!

    *Naval Intelligence Officer(1965-71), DAV Life Member

  7. Lydia L.

    I believe that violence begets more violence. Many liberal and conservatives believe it is perfectly okay to slap their kids. They tend to use the polite word, “spank.” It is slapping. They lose their temper with a toddler and slap her. They justify it by saying they were slapped as kids and they turned out okay. They justify it by calling it discipline. Call it what it is: you lose your temper with your child and slap the child. You teach your child that the bigger, stronger person can exert their physical power. And then the violence just escalates. Some people escalate it to the point where they feel a need to “protect” themselves with an arsinal of “assault” weapons. Well, guess what? Your hand is an “assault” weapon. Stop the physical assaults. Use your brain, your age and wisdom. Use patience. If you lose your temper with your toddler, walk into another room. Punch your pillow on your bed. Step on your treadmill. Call a friend to watch your child for a few minutes. Stop the physical assaults on your toddlers. Stop the physical assaults on your young children. You have the power to change society for the better. Teach kindness, patience and peace to your kids.

  8. Rifkin

    My two cents:

    [b]One.[/b] There is no need for sport, for hunting or for self-defense for any civilian to own an assault weapon or any other semi-automatic weapon designed to mow down enemies in war; and two, there is no need to allow civilians to own gun clips which hold more than say 6 bullets.

    Were it up to me, we would outlaw civilians* from having assault weapons, automatic weapons, semi-automatic weapons and other weapons designed for the military; and we would outlaw ammunition clips that hold more than 6 bullets.

    The upside of doing this would be that when someone was intent on going on a shooting rampage, instead of killing 12, 15 or 30 innocents, he would have a hard time killing more than 5 or 6. There is no downside at all to such a law as this. However, it undoubtedly would create a black-market in assault weapons among criminal gangsters. But that would not make them any more dangerous than they are today. It would make them less likely to be able to buy these weapons and these large clips.

    *The only exceptions I might make in this regard are highly trained, licensed professionals in the security business, if they have passed a serious background check which includes regular psychiatric evaluations.

  9. Rifkin

    [b]Two.[/b] Just as David Greenwald suggests, I would require a licensing and registration process much like we have with drivers and cars. An important part of that licensing process would be to prevent the mentally ill from owning or possessing guns.

    It came out today–see this story from ABC News ([url]http://abcnews.go.com/US/colorado-shooting-suspect-james-holmes-psychiatrist/story?id=16872374[/url])–that James Holmes was being treated by a psychiatrist who specializes in treating patients with schizophrenia (though it is not certain that is what Holmes has).

    Under our current NRA regime**, being treated for serious mental illness DOES NOT preclude anyone from buying or owning a gun, including the war-weapons Holmes recently purchased, and being a mental patient also DOES NOT preclude anyone from purchasing thousands of rounds of ammunition, as Holmes recently did, and having a serious mental illness does not legally preclude anyone from purchasing ammo clips that hold dozens of rounds.

    The only time someone with mental illness is ever prohibited from buying the kinds of guns that James Holmes bought is if a court determines ([url]http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704515904576076200491395200.html[/url]) that someone is too mentally ill to safely own a weapon. That almost never happens before someone commits a heinous crime. In other words, the NRA regime has us wait until a dozen people are dead and dozens more are nearly killed before we act.

    Were it up to me, every person being treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist for a serious mental disease (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, etc.) would automatically be put on the federal list of people who cannot buy any guns of any type, and once on that list, the person would have to go to court to get off the list, following an evaluation by a court-ordered mental health professional who diagnoses the person mentally fit.

    **NRA regime? Yes. The NRA is in control of Congress and decides what our gun laws are. Gun enthusiasts are well financed (by gun and ammo sellers) and well organized. Even though the vast majority of Americans support reasonable controls–like outlawing individuals from owning weapons of war–the majority is unorganized and lacks the financial incentive to buy members of Congress.

  10. medwoman

    [quote]How about a national dialogue honestly dealing with the family problem of no marriage, which results in births out of wedlock and missing fathers, never mind the particular ethnicity? Fewer and fewer couples are committing to each other/entering into marriage. Where does that leave the children of such loose relationships?[/quote]

    I agree that children being raised in unstable family situations is a major problem. But I believe that the key is in the advance planning for a desired conception. This should be relatively simple. From my experience there are three types of patients of reproductive age. Those who have planned ahead, are in stable individual or family situations and know they are financially, socially and emotionally prepared to raise a child. This is the ideal situation, whether legally married or not. The second group are those who through personal or religious conviction are open to the possibility of pregnancy although they are not actively attempting. I am fine with this as it is an active choice and most of these women also are in circumstances enabling them to support a child. It is the third group that is problematic. These are the women that do not desire a pregnancy, know that they are not in a position to raise a child, and yet are doing nothing effective to prevent it.

    It is this last group that we should be addressing proactively. We should be addressing it as a society that recognizes that we have a major problem. We should be addressing it in our homes with realistic discussions with our children regarding the emotional, physical, immediate and lifetime consequences of unprotected versus protected sexual activity. We should be addressing it in the schools through effective reproductive education taught by experts in this field, not by reluctant, potentially embarrassed science or PE
    teachers. We should be addressing it in our legislatures by supporting, not undermining those organizations that provide low cost contraception to those who have the greatest need to not have children in their current circumstances. If we were really serious about this, we would do what Honduras does, provide free, long term, statistically effective contraception to everyone responsible enough to seek it out. For those who treat this like a joke, commenting on how this represents paying for someone else’s sexual recreation, I would point out that it is much less expensive to pay for the intrauterine device which provides for 10 years worth of a less than 1%
    chance of conception yearly, than it does to pay for the food, clothing, housing, medical care and education of the approximately 2-3 children that will be conceived in that time span if the woman is using no contraception. This is especially true if we are then successful in restricting her ability to have a desired abortion.

    Want to really cut down on the number of murders and suicides? The ultimate in prevention is to cut down on the number of unplanned and undesired pregnancies.

  11. Rifkin

    As to whether Holmes actually has scizophrenia, we (the public) do not yet know. Just because he saw this particular medical doctor who specializes in treating patients with schizophrenia is not the end of the question. But it is some evidence that is a possible explanation. His age, 24, is also a good clue. This disease tends to afflict people in their mid to late teens and progressively gets worse. So it’s possible Holmes has had schizophrenia for a number of years, but only in recent months it completely overtook his rational mind. According to family members of the man who murdered all those innocents at Virginia Tech, the killer had symptoms of schizophrenia his senior year in high school, but his became much worse while he was at Va. Tech.

    Keep in mind that someone with schizophrenia is well capable of planning and plotting. These patients are not mentally disabled, like people with retardation. Rather, in extreme cases, a paranoid schizophrenic irrationally sees the world conspiring against him. He thinks that some outside force (such as the CIA or aliens) are trying to kill him. And in light of this completely irrational thought, the schizophrenic does what he thinks is necessary to defend himself and perhaps to defend society, from those people who are causing this “menace.” As a result, when a person with schizophrenia goes on a killing rampage, he thinks that he is justified and doing good, either for himself or for others. It’s not as if he hates society or has a political motive to kill. He is acting out of a completely psychotic notion of self or societal defense from some force of evil.

  12. medwoman

    Lydia L

    [quote]You have the power to change society for the better. Teach kindness, patience and peace to your kids.[/quote]

    I could not agree with you more. Non violence starts in the home.

  13. craised

    I believe in having more guns readily available than may be needed.

    As I sit in front of my computer now, there’s a Glock 21 SF with Streamlight M3 mounted on it’s rail and a Glock 23 on my desk. Several Remington 870 shotguns in 12 gauge with extended magazines are in various parts of the house and an AR-15 loaded with 30 rounds of 55 grain SP ammo and a vest with six additional magazines are in my bedroom closet. Extra magazines for the Glocks in .40 S&W and .45 ACP are in various drawers. I also keep a set of Peltor Tactical 7 muffs in my nightstand drawer and a level 2
    Second Chance vest in my dresser drawer. The rifle also has a light
    mounted on it’s railed gas block and I keep my old police duty gun
    belt with SIG 220 in it’s Safariland security holster and all related
    equipment, including magazines, flashlight, ASP baton, handcuffs,
    and O.C. spray in my closet so I can quickly put it on and have all
    necessary equipment when I hop out of bed when things go bump
    in the night. The sound amplifying Peltor muffs keep me from being
    deafened if I have to fire guns inside the house and allow me to still
    hear well if there is more than one home invader creeping around.
    I normally carry a Springfield 1911 in .45 ACP with two extra magazines and a Glock 27 while wearing pants, but after taking a shower, I switch to the Glocks as they pack more ammo in them and don’t require me to disengage any safeties before firing. The light on the Glock 21 SF allows me to have a light available at all times and leaves my non-shooting hand to do other things. I also have several Surefire high lumen flashlights in various parts of the house in addition to numerous hidden knives, swords, and axes.
    It’s better to have too much hardware than not enough if very bad guys/gals decide to visit me uninvited. I also have a dog who’s the best alarm system around and the ultimate weapon – a very large, mean wife who can clean out a biker bar by herself in five minutes.

  14. Frankly

    There are two tracks being discussed here: one is the massacre in Colorado, the other is our high levels of gun violence.

    On the first, I think we are confusing the root cause with a symptom. I also think we are being (understandably) a bit too reactionary. Mental health or psychological problems are the root cause of all of these mass murders by gun incidents. Certainly access to assault weapons is a factor, but eliminating the right to own them is overkill (pardon the pun please). There are many law-abiding, non-violent people that like to own them for several reasons. Some are just collectors that value the art and science of gun design. Some think there might be a future defense justification to own them. For example, they believe we might have to defend ourselves from terrorist attacks, anarchy, or government gone wild. Many are against bans of assault weapons simply because we will not prevent criminals from getting them. We won’t.

    Also related to the first track is the conseration of risk-reaction. The risk of being killed by a crazy person with a gun is very low. You are much more likely to be struck and killed by lightening in your lifetime.

    Just because one person can’t see a reason to own an assaullt rifle, doesn’t justify them taking away that freedom of someone that does… over something with so little risk to the average person. This risk assessment is especially valid considering the crazy person could plow a car into a crowd, or set off some incendiary explosive device in a movie theater.

    The larger problem related to gun violence is what is happening in many of our inner cities. Young people are slaughtering each other. This is the track we should be pursuing. The risk for a young person living in our inner cities to suffer injury or death from gun shot is much higher than it is for our soldiers in Afghanistan. How can we not address so obvious of a terrible problem?

  15. crimedefender@gmail.com

    [quote]However, if you believe banning weapons is going to stop gun violence, I think you are completely wrong.

    If you do not believe me, how long do you think it would take for me to purchase marijuana? How long do you think it would take for me to purchase meth?[/quote]

    I might agree that your reasoning is sound except that you cannot manufacture guns in back room laboratories and cheap motel bathrooms, nor can you plant gun seeds and make them grow.

    But the most persuasive of all observations in refutation of your argument is to simply look at western democracies and their respective success or failures on both the controlled substance and the gun ban front. Where interdiction of drugs has been a monumental failure, the same cannot be said of guns. Most western European countries do not permit their citizens to carry , possess or purchase firearms. The results are clear. These countries have but a fraction of the gun violence we see in this country. It’s as palpable as night and day. Now I do not expect you to run out and join my advocacy for repealing the Second Amendment but you must agree that the incidence and ease of accessibility of narcotics is no predictor that similar access to guns would follow their ban. Find another justification please. Let’s declare a war on guns![url]http:/medicinelawyer.tumblr.com[/url]

  16. craised

    Hows this for finding another justification.

    1. Fact: The murder rates in many nations (such as England) were ALREADY LOW BEFORE enacting gun control. Thus, their restrictive laws cannot be credited with lowering their crime rates.1

    2. Fact: Gun control has done nothing to keep crime rates from rising in many of the nations that have imposed severe firearms restrictions.
    * Australia: Readers of the USA Today newspaper discovered in 2002 that, “Since Australia’s 1996 laws banning most guns and making it a crime to use a gun defensively, armed robberies rose by 51%, unarmed robberies by 37%, assaults by 24% and kidnappings by 43%. While murders fell by 3%, manslaughter rose by 16%.”2

    * Canada: After enacting stringent gun control laws in 1991 and 1995, Canada has not made its citizens any safer. “The contrast between the criminal violence rates in the United States and in Canada is dramatic,” says Canadian criminologist Gary Mauser in 2003. “Over the past decade, the rate of violent crime in Canada has increased while in the United States the violent crime rate has plummeted.” 3

    * England: According to the BBC News, handgun crime in the United Kingdom rose by 40% in the two years after it passed its draconian gun ban in 1997.4

    * Japan: One newspaper headline says it all: Police say “Crime rising in Japan, while arrests at record low.”5

    3. Fact: British citizens are now more likely to become a victim of crime than are people in the United States:
    * In 1998, a study conducted jointly by statisticians from the U.S. Department of Justice and the University of Cambridge in England found that most crime is now worse in England than in the United States.

    * “You are more likely to be mugged in England than in the United States,” stated the Reuters news agency in summarizing the study. “The rate of robbery is now 1.4 times higher in England and Wales than in the United States, and the British burglary rate is nearly double America’s.”6 The murder rate in the United States is reportedly higher than in England, but according to the DOJ study, “the difference between the [murder rates in the] two countries has narrowed over the past 16 years.”7

    * The United Nations confirmed these results in 2000 when it reported that the crime rate in England is higher than the crime rates of 16 other industrialized nations, including the United States.8

    4. Fact: British authorities routinely underreport crime statistics. Comparing statistics between different nations can be quite difficult since foreign officials frequently use different standards in compiling crime statistics.
    * The British media has remained quite critical of authorities there for “fiddling” with crime data. Consider some of the headlines in their papers: “Crime figures a sham, say police,”910 and “Police figures under-record offences by 20 percent.”11 “Police are accused of fiddling crime data,”

    * British police have also criticized the system because of the “widespread manipulation” of crime data:
    a. “Officers said that pressure to convince the public that police were winning the fight against crime had resulted in a long list of ruses to ‘massage’ statistics.”12

    b. Sgt. Mike Bennett says officers have become increasingly frustrated with the practice of manipulating statistics. “The crime figures are meaningless,” he said. “Police everywhere know exactly what is going on.”13

    c. According to The Electronic Telegraph, “Officers said the recorded level of crime bore no resemblance to the actual amount of crime being committed.”14

    * Underreporting crime data: “One former Scotland Yard officer told The Telegraph of a series of tricks that rendered crime figures ‘a complete sham.’ A classic example, he said, was where a series of homes in a block flats were burgled and were regularly recorded as one crime. Another involved pickpocketing, which was not recorded as a crime unless the victim had actually seen the item being stolen.”15

    * Underreporting murder data: British crime reporting tactics keep murder rates artificially low. “Suppose that three men kill a woman during an argument outside a bar. They are arrested for murder, but because of problems with identification (the main witness is dead), charges are eventually dropped. In American crime statistics, the event counts as a three-person homicide, but in British statistics it counts as nothing at all. ‘With such differences in reporting criteria, comparisons of U.S. homicide rates with British homicide rates is a sham,’ [a 2000 report from the Inspectorate of Constabulary] concludes.”16

    5. Fact: Many nations with stricter gun control laws have violence rates that are equal to, or greater than, that of the United States.

  17. jimt

    Re: “We often hear the slogan – guns don’t kill people, people do. That is a foolish, ill-considered, and counter-intuitive statement.”

    Yes, I understand this David, which I why I don’t hold you responsible for posting of your article above. The posting of your article was done by your computer and word processor and the internet; they enabled you in the writing of this article; and therefor bear the main responsibility for the article posting.

    As I see it, the main problem with blaming guns for murders lies in the area of personal responsibility. The view that the environment governs peoples actions reduces people to the level of animals, whose behavior is governed by their impulses and by the environment. If we reduce humans to this status, civilization collapses, as personal responsibility is removed and we are treated like animals in a zoo. This robs people of their dignity. We each must acknowledge personal responsibility to be able to rise above our environment and our impulses and to contribute to a civilized society.

    As I see it, the main reason for high gun violence in the USA as compared to the very low rates in Switzerland, where most adults own firearms, has to do with the USA being a high-stakes winner-take-all society (I’ll post more on this later if time).

  18. Rifkin

    I have some questions for the gun enthusiasts:

    [b] 1. Should we allow private citizens to buy and sell fully automatic, functionally operable machine guns, like the M249 SAW ([url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIPvPRWFd9A[/url]) without prior approval of the US Attorney General, which is now required by Title 2? [/b]

    If you say we should–that is, we should treat them the same as we treat a shotgun or a revolver–that would be a radical departure from our federal concept of gun control going back to 1934. But at least such a position would be consistant with the ideology which allows people like James Holmes or anyone else to buy a semi-automatic.

    If, however, you think automatic weapons need to be heavily regulated–to the point where it is next to impossible for an ordinary citizen to buy or sell a MAC-10–then there is no logical argument against my position, which is that we need to treat semi-automatics the same as we treat fully automatics. Both, in my view, have no value to civilian society. They are simply efficient at killing masses of people.

    [img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/MAC10.jpg[/img]

    [b]2. Should we allow private citizens to purchase and own the ammunition needed for such weapons? [/b]

    The logical vs. illogical line of reasoning follows closely my argument above. But if you come down on the logically consistent argument with regard to ammunition, then you should think that without regulation private civilians should be able to own hand grenades, any sort of explosive or bomb, including chemical weapons or a nuclear weapon. After all, your argument is that civilians need these to protect themselves from the “dangerous” government. So if they need machine guns to fight back against machine guns, they surely need mustard gas to fight back against mustard gas.

    [b]3. Should a civilian owner of a machine guns be required to have some sort of license for those guns which demonstrates that the owner knows how to use the machine safely and how to store the gun safely, and that the owner of such a weapons is not mentally imbalanced?[/b]

    Again, your logically consistent position is that there should be no licensing procedures and (as the NRA argues) no restrictions on the mentally ill, save those who have committed crimes with guns already.

    Of course, your view here is totally nuts. No one who is civilized needs or wants a fully automatic machine gun. But a lot of crazy people do. And you would be allowing them to have these and there would be no licensing procedures.

    But if you don’t think letting unlicensed civilians having MAC-10s is smart, then you have no logical argument against my position, that firearms owners should be licensed and regulated.

    If

  19. crimedefender@gmail.com

    [quote]Hows this for finding another justification. [/quote]

    Crazed:
    You are off point and you argue against yourself first quoting questionable statistics and then claiming that they are wrong. My point was that many fewer people die from gunfire in these countries than in the United States. Why? Because there are virtually no guns in these countries. You simply cannot point to a single statistic that demonstrates the soundness of the author’s premise that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns and they will have access to them as easily as one can buy illicit drugs. Guns require modern industrial factory rendering in a country where such rendering is lawful. Drugs do not. Its not more complicated than that.

    And Jimt: That old tired “personal responsibility” argument is the same one which supported destroying the state’s school system in favor of an ill advised construction of gulags run by one of the worst criminal enterprises in this state: The prison guards union. I am all for personal responsibility. However imposing it as a standard to drive public policy is absurd when you consider that a certain number of people will not take personal responsibility no matter what policy you enact. You had better get to enacting policies which contemplate that lack of personal responsibility in their function or we are doomed as I fear we already are..
    Marijuanonymous [url]http://medicinelawyer.tumblr.com/[/url]

  20. anonymous

    I don’t see how the authors of the second amendment had anything other than a single shot musket in mind when they were thinking of arms. Were they also thinking of canons? Do I have the right to own a workable canon? a bazooka? rocket-propelled grenades? a nuclear bomb?

  21. Frankly

    Rich: “They have no value to civian society”. You can’t go that far. There a lot of things that someone may want to own that might not have value to you and me. There is a popular reality TV program on that is about a family that owns a shop that deals with exotic weapons. People get a thrill out of owning them and shooting them.

    Here is another example: rockets. There are a number of people that get a thrill out of owning and launching rockets. Rockets are used as weapons too. But unless a person is actually using a rocket unsafely and/or unlawfully, they have the right to own them and use them.

    I don’t have a problem with registration being required, and I don’t have a problem with background checks… including checks on mental health. But to prevent lawful, sane people from owning weapons that crooks can and will continue to get is just wrong.

  22. jimt

    Crimedefender–Re: “I am all for personal responsibility. However imposing it as a standard to drive public policy is absurd when you consider that a certain number of people will not take personal responsibility no matter what policy you enact. You had better get to enacting policies which contemplate that lack of personal responsibility in their function or we are doomed as I fear we already are.. “

    I agree with your statement above. My objection was to the statement “guns kill people”, which takes away personal responsibility for murders, and muddies the waters in discussions on firearm regulations and crime prevention. Of course, laws are devised precisely to safeguard against those who act irresponsibly; however these people must be brought to account and made to take responsibility for their acts.

    I support Rifkins sensible and moderate approach to gun regulation posted above.
    Perhaps assault weapons could be made available to law enforcement (to bring parity when law enforcement needs to take on gangs, some of whom unquestionably get them thru the black market, even when banned, as in Mexico) and perhaps to specially licensed civilians, who must attend and pay for special training programs, submit to stringent background checks and regular psychiatric evaluations. Or perhaps not to civilians at all; even this level of screening may not have caught someone like the Colorado shooter; who may have had a sudden psychotic break (this could happen after a routine psychiatric check!) However with the widespread street gang problem in the USA, a ban would create a black market for assault weapons; this black market would make it possible for mentally unstable people to access these weapons. No easy answers, though I would concede a ban could at least make it more difficult to access these weapons.

  23. crimedefender@gmail.com

    [quote]They have no value to civian society. You can’t go that far.[/quote] [u]I [/u]can’t go that far?

    I am not the one suggesting we enshrine a fundamental constitutional right to possess an object because it has the potential to ‘thrill’ its ‘shooter’ and because it is something ‘someone may want to own’ despite an established consenus that its possession is ill advised.

    And the right to own and use ‘Rockets’? There is no such right anywhere in the constitution. A word so ubiquitous and iconic in post-modern America that it’s meaning is vague and limitless and so I am left to wonder where as between the benign two foot estes model rocket fired into the air by a third grader doing his science project and say the Saturn V armed with a full nuclear payload… where do you draw the line on personal liberty embracing an individuals right to possess?

    And finished off with a rendering of the tired ol’ phrase: ‘If guns are banned only bands will have guns and roses.’ (I know that’s not correct its just a little early morning self-mockery.)

    Ok I changed my mind: You’re right and I am wrong.

  24. crimedefender@gmail.com

    [quote]this black market would make it possible for mentally unstable people to access these weapons. No easy answers, though I would concede a ban could at least make it more difficult to access these weapons. [/quote]

    Jimt I appreciate the concession of the inverse of your proposition though it renders your argument weightless. Addressing only your first proposition I submit that the mentally unstable already have access which is evidenced by the fact that on August 3, 2010, concealed handgun permit holder Omar Thornton, armed with a Sturm, Ruger SR9 semi-automatic pistol and high-capacity ammunition magazine, opened fire on his co-workers at beer distributor Hartford Distributors in Manchester, CT, killing eight and wounding two before taking his own life.

    And that on November 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan, armed with an FN 5.7 semi-automatic pistol and 30- and 20-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, killed 13 and wounded more than 30 at the Fort Hood military base in Fort Hood, TX.

    And that on April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, armed with a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol, Walther P22 semi-automatic pistol, and 15-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, killed 32 and wounded 17 on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, before taking his own life.

    And that on November 2, 1999, Byran Uyesugi, armed with a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol and three 15-round high-capacity magazines, opened fire at the Xerox Office Building in Honolulu, HA, killing seven. (AP file photo of Xerox Corporation headquarters in Norwalk, CT.)

    And that on September 15, 1999, Larry Gene Ashbrook, armed with a Sturm, Ruger P85 9mm semi-automatic pistol and three 15-round high-capacity magazines, opened fire at Wedgewood Baptist Church, killing seven and wounding seven before taking his own life.

    And that on April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, armed with an Intratec TEC-DC9 semi-automatic assault pistol, Hi-Point 9mm semi-automatic Carbine, two Savage shotguns, and high-capacity ammunition magazines, killed 13 and wounded 23 at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, before taking their own lives.

    And that on December 7, 1993, Colin Ferguson, armed with a Sturm, Ruger P89 9mm semi-automatic pistol and four 15-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, opened fire on Long Island Railroad commuters, killing six and wounding 19.

    And that on July 1, 1993, Gian Luigi Ferri, armed with two Intratec TEC-DC9 semi-automatic assault pistols, a 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and 40- to 50-round high-capacity ammunition magazines, opened fire at the San Francisco, CA, law firm of Pettit & Martin, killing eight and and wounding six before taking his own life.

    And that on October 16, 1991, George Hennard, armed with a Sturm, Ruger P89 semi-automatic pistol, Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, and 17- and 15-round magazines, killed 23 and wounded 20 at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, TX, before taking his own life.

    And that on January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy, armed with an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle, Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol, an unidentified semi-automatic pistol, and a 75-round high-capacity drum magazine, opened fire on grade school children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, CA, killing five and wounding 30 before taking his own life.

    I think that they already have access Jimt. That’s the problem.

  25. biddlin

    Twice, in 60 years, has my life been threatened by bullets . Once by my 70year-old ex-father-in-law,who thought he heard a prowler. so taking a 19th century revolver to the yard to investigate, was ready to fire when I opened a window to ask what was going on . Fortunately, the ammo was as old as the gun, and the slug bounced off the aluminum frame . His response BTW, was that I had startled him and so it was all my fault . The following day, he bought a new(at the time)Colt Trooper mkIII .357 magnum . The last time was a few years ago while working customer service for the city of Sacramento’s Solid Waste division. A disabled customer had ordered a replacement recycle can and offering complete service, arrangements were made for the gate to be left open on the morning of the exchange, so that I could go in the yard and make the exchange without disturbing the customer . Upon on my arrival, I took the new container from my truck and walked into the backyard . Just as I was moving the old can out of the way, I heard the of a .45 auto being cocked . I raised my hands just as a raspy voice said, “you’re just the damn garbage man, you scared me to death .”An old man in his bathrobe,with bottleglass spectacles, stood there with his old Army Colt,still pointing at me . I scared him ! Lest one thinks I am a typical ban all guns liberal, I began hunting with my father and brothers at around 5 . I have a collectible Colt pistol and an Argentine Mauser, (currently on loan to a studio ). Guns may not kill people in a strict sense, but people with guns are more apt to kill other people, frequently without intent.

  26. Frankly

    By my math that is 122 dead and 164 wounded over 23 years from crimeanddefender’s list. Again, the odds of the average American being a victim of one of these rare events is very low. I think we should do the math and not be so reactionary.

  27. Don Shor

    Jeff: the one consistent thing I noticed in the list was “semi-automatic” and “high-capacity magazines.” In each case, probably fewer people would have been killed if one or both of those things hadn’t been available.

    When McVeigh used ammonium nitrate to blow up a building, regulations were put in place that limited its availability. Sales of large amounts of ammonium nitrate prompted inquiries by the DHS or FBI, and we now actually have specific regulations about sales of that specific type of fertilizer. From what I read, sales of ammonium nitrate have dropped drastically (and there are plenty of alternatives for farmers). You can’t blow up a building with ammonium phosphate or ammonium sulfate. So a practical response to the easy access of the method of delivery was enacted. It doesn’t restrict access to fertilizers. Just to the form that’s explosive.

  28. Rifkin

    JEFF: [i]”I don’t have a problem with registration being required, and I don’t have a problem with background checks… including checks on mental health.”[/i]

    I have two questions for you, Jeff:

    [b]1. Since we currently have a system of registration (which includes recording serial numbers, etc.) for the guns, why should we not also have a licensing system, much like we have with drivers’ licenses? [/b]

    In the licensing program I foresee, a person who wants to buy a gun would first have to pass a background check (age, criminal history, mental health) and prove he knows gun-safety basics. He would then get a license and in order to buy and register a gun, he would have to show his license.

    For a small fee, a gun license would automatically be renewed every year, with the licensing agency having to run a criminal and mental history check before the renewed license is mailed. If a gun-owner’s license was denied for renewal (say the person was convicted of felony domestic assault), he would be required to turn in all of his guns to local law enforcement; and he could either have them hold his guns until he regained his license or have them sell his guns at market value and the former owner would get the proceeds.

    One of the only good things about the NRA in my opinion is it offers gun-safety courses ([url]http://www.nrainstructors.org/CourseCatalog.aspx[/url]). They are not onerous. I don’t see why all gun owners should not have to take one of these classes and prove he understands the responsibilities which come with gun ownership in order to get a gun owner’s license.

    A common problem of having guns in a home is that many gun-owners do not understand how to properly store their weapons. The result is that the U.S. leads the world in gun-accidents involving children. I recall a case a few years ago in Vacaville where an improperly stored gun was used by one child to kill his sibling.

    [b]2. You say you are in favor of ‘background checks on mental health.’ How far should we go in this regard, Jeff? [/b]

    As I said previously, I believe any psychiatrist or psychologist who is treating a patient for a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, other psychosis, clinical depression, etc.) should be required to report this fact to the ATF, and I believe the ATF should be authorized to deny all gun-sales to anyone on such a list, unless a court-ordered mental health examination proves the person is mentally salubrious.

    What objection, if any, would you have with that sort of a ‘mental health background check’?

  29. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Jeff Boone: By my math that is 122 dead and 164 wounded over 23 years from crimeanddefender’s list. Again, the odds of the average American being a victim of one of these rare events is very low. I think we should do the math and not be so reactionary.

    David M. Greenwald: Of course that’s how some of us feel about the terrorism threat as well.[/quote]

    Nearly 3000 people died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11; the Lockerbie plane bombing killed 270. Terrorist attacks have the potential for killing large numbers of people…

  30. Adam Smith

    [i]David M. Greenwald: Of course that’s how some of us feel about the terrorism threat as well.[/i]

    What???? Did I miss that the US government, or anyone, called for banning commercial airliners? I don’t remember anyone calling for banning shoes after the shoe bomber tried to blow up an airplane with explosives hidden in his tennis shoes.

    I think the government has put safeguards in place, but if you travel by airliners, train, bus or any other way, you’ll quickly acknowledge we are far from a “0” tolerance policy with respect to terrorism.

  31. jimt

    Crimedefender,

    What I meant to say is that with an assault gun ban, the mentally ill would still be able to get ahold of assault weapons (but only thru the black market) though I concede it could make them more difficult and expensive to purchase.

    I wonder how much a ban would affect black market assault weapon costs? One the one hand supply would be more restricted, acting to raise costs. On the other hand; there may be groups of people (such as undiagnosed mentally unstable, and others) who formerly were able to obtain these weapons legally; after the ban some percentage of these people (perhaps particularly some mentally unstable fanatics) would now purchase them thru the black market; increasing the total black market demand, and perhaps bringing down costs. I do suspect that if the ban is enforced fairly vigorously, the net effect would be that the weapons would be more costly and difficult to purchase via black market; but still possible for someone determined enough (just the sort of people we might not want to trust with these weapons).

  32. biddlin

    ERM-The 2004 National Safety Council Estimate-Based on data fromThe National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau as well as mortality data from the Center for Disease Control(including the 09/11/01 victims):
    • You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane
    • You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack
    • You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack
    • You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist
    • You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack
    • You are 6 times more likely to die from [u]hot weather[/u] than from a terrorist attack

  33. Frankly

    Biddlin: that is an apples to watermelons comparison. Assuming that you are making a point that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were a waste because of the low risk of an American being killed by a terrorist, you ignore several points:

    – The risk is low in part because we are fighting and winning the war against them. Without figthing terrorism, it would expand. 9-11 was proof of this point. However, there is no evidence of an increase in gun murders by people with mental health problems.
    – 9-11 proved what terrorists could do and would do if not prevented. There is no clear evidence that enacting the type of gun restrictions being advocated by anti-gun zealots would significantly reduce the (the already very low) risks that crazy people will continue to go on killing rampages. And these gun restrictions will result in the negative consequences of better armed criminals and a reduction in our freedoms to protect oursleves.
    – 9-11 hit the US economy hard and about destroyed much of the airline industry. What economic impacts are caused by these few incidents of crazy people killing with guns?
    – 9-11 impacted the future of air travel for everyone. I don’t think the movie industry has been impacted by the Colorado shootings?
    – The Taliban and AL Qaeda abuses and kills women, gays, Christians, Jews and ??? The history of incidents with crazy people and guns does not demonstrate any bias for the people killed.
    – Islamists that perpetrate terrorism are pursuing a global agenda… are you a US isolationist?

    The demand for gun restrictions following the Colorado massacre is based on a narrow focus and minicule risk of crazy people acquiring and using a gun to kill people. The demand to fight and defeat global terrorism is based on a wide focus and a much more nurmerous and diverse set of risks.

  34. crimedefender@gmail.com

    Oh Jeff! The risk that crazy people will acquire a ‘gun’ (I like that you’re only allotting them one) is not ‘minicule’ (sic). Its absolute. Even in a country that neither makes nor manufactures any guns eventually some nut job will buy a gun in a neighboring country (perhaps the Attorney General of that country will sell it to the crazy person as part of some fast and furious ill conceived idea that selling guns to the insane will allow them to trace the guns to see how the crazy people use them (I meant “it”–sorry Jeff, I forgot you were only letting them have one.) So now our fine well armed psychopath goes on a ramoage and lets day takjwes out ten peoole all standing in the line for the bus. (He’s very careful not to shoot one too many of any given racial background lest the crazy persons commitment to random death seem to waiver). And of course Bernard Goetz was no racist…son of sam…worked very hard not to demonstrate any bias at all. psycho killers do great work for diversity and other race neutral programs…..but what happens when they learn about affirmative action and the white peoples’ tendency to feel entitled and to claim a fiction called ‘reverse racism’ anytime they lose out to a minority in any way??? Well that’s when I think all hell breaks loose cuz that’s when all those crazy armed sons of bitches are going to start killing white people in some of the most gruesome and non-biased ways.

  35. Frankly

    “You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.”

    Well that is a misleading factoid. You actually have much greater risk being killed by a police officer if you commit crimes and/or hang with people that commit crimes. Also, if you are confronted by a cop pointing a gun at you, there are several behaviors that would tend to increase your risk of being shot and killed. You are materially at zero risk if you obey the law and hang with people that obey the law. So, you have almost complete control over this risk of being shot and killed by a police officer. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but my guess is that law-abiding people are much more likely to be killed by a terrorist than a police officer.

    Contrasting this being killed by a cop to being killed by a crazy person or a terrorist, you don’t have much control over the latter. Two ways I can think of to materially reduce your risk of being killed by a gun wielding crazy person or terrorist:

    1. Carry a weapon and be trained to use it, and be trained to keep you senses tuned to what people around you are doing or how they are behaving.

    2. Become a survival nut recluse hermit and live in a concrete bunker and have your supplies delivered to a safe control room under camera surveillance.

    Speaking of control… if we are talking about the death penalty… people on death row have control to prevent that type of killing also. They could refrain from murdering people.

  36. crimedefender@gmail.com

    [quote] You are materially at zero risk if you obey the law and hang with people that obey the law. So, you have almost complete control over this risk of being shot and killed by a police officer. [/quote]
    Let me guess Jeff, you don’t have a lot of young black friends do you?

  37. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]ERM-The 2004 National Safety Council Estimate-Based on data fromThe National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau as well as mortality data from the Center for Disease Control(including the 09/11/01 victims):
    • You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack [/quote]

    3000 people were killed in the 9/11 attack. If this country did not take a pro-active approach to terrorism, your statistics are likely to be obsolete very quickly, e.g. the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber. It is a testament to our fight against terrorism that your stats are currently accurate…

  38. Frankly

    [i]Let me guess Jeff, you don’t have a lot of young black friends do you? [/i]

    What the hell does that have to do with anything? I have friends of all skin colors, ages and ethnic origins, but I don’t hang with anyone that engages in crime (unless I am unaware of the criminal activity)… including family members.

  39. Frankly

    crimedefender: One caveat to what I posted previously. I think drug laws and enforcement add an element of “attractive nuisance” criminal risk that is a problem. I think some minority groups may be overrepresented in criminal activity related to drug use in this country. So, “hanging with a criminal” as I wrote could include hanging with a friend or family member that has a problem with addiction to unlawful substances, and as a result could result in a greater risk of being shot and killed by cops dealing with the laws for possession of narcotics.

    As I have written, I support decimalization of some recreational drugs, as long as we tax it and use 100% of the tax money for treatment of substance abuse and addictions.

  40. Frankly

    Rich, sorry it took me a while to get back to you on your questions. I was traveling and the iPad is limited as a blogging tool.

    [i][b]1. Since we currently have a system of registration (which includes recording serial numbers, etc.) for the guns, why should we not also have a licensing system, much like we have with drivers’ licenses?[/b][/i]

    [i][b]2. You say you are in favor of ‘background checks on mental health.’ How far should we go in this regard, Jeff?[/b][/i]

    Here is what I believe:

    1. I don’t support the government eliminating the right of law-abiding citizens of sound mind to own guns or ammunition, or clips, or?

    2.I don’t support the eroding of certain freedoms even in the cases where seemingly rational arguments can be made… because of the tendency for advocates to keep chipping away incrementally.

    3.I agree that we should to set a line to restrict the ownership of military-grade “heavy weapons” like bazookas, grenades, RPGs, missiles, cannons, etc. There does have to be a limit. However, heavy weapons are extremely difficult to acquire and transport because of their expense and bulk. Criminals are unlikely to acquire them and use them. Crazy people are unlikely to acquire them and use them. Conversely, assault rifles are relatively cheap and easy to obtain and transport. Criminals will get them. A black market will form. Like with our war on drugs, we will fail to stop the flow. However, we will prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to own them… either as collectors or for possible defense needs. Then we will make criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens that acquire and own these weapons.

    4.Assuming law-abiding citizens of sound mind can own and possess these weapons, I am fine with registration requirements. I am fine with licensing as long as the costs are not too high, and the revenue generated is used 100% for the cost to administer the registration and licensing process, and provide some national guidelines for gun safety and use training.

    5.I am fine with bulk ammunition sales requiring registration.

    Now we get to the second questions. I am fine with background checks for criminal activity.

    In general I support the idea to also verify mental fitness to own a firearm. Here is my problem with that though… it is subjective and open for abuse. For example, Nancy Pelosi thought and probably still thinks that Tea Partiers are a bunch of gun-toting crazy people that want to shoot and kill liberals. Put biddlin in a position of power, and he would probably prevent me from owning a gun since he thinks I am too mentally deficient. Put me in charge, and I might strive to prevent him from owning firearms until he attends an anger-management program and/or he stays on his meds.

    My thinking on this is that the social cost of mistakes and abuses would outweigh the potential benefits. Assuming we can even identify the people that have significant enough mental health problems, there will be a percentage that we don’t identify. Most of these people have higher than average intelligence. I don’t know about you, but my experience with some high IQ people is that they behave weirdly… sometimes it is just social awkwardness… but then again? And, I don’t really trust psychiatry enough to believe that the profession can accurately identify 100% of nut cases that are risks for shooting rampages.

    The risks of being killed by a crazy person on a gun shooting rampage are extremely low. That does not mean I am not angered and frustrated that so many innocent people had their lives taken… and more importantly to me, so many of their loved ones had their lives ripped apart. Even though the risks are very, very low for this happening to the average person, I support some reasonable policies to lower them even further. But I don’t support reactionary-ism that in effect punishes the public with emotive-driven laws and regulations that will do little to solve the problem.

  41. biddlin

    ” Assuming that you are making a point that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were a waste because of the low risk of an American being killed by a terrorist,…” No clue why anyone would make such an assumption .

    ” If this country did not take a pro-active approach to terrorism, your statistics are likely to be obsolete very quickly, e.g. the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber. It is a testament to our fight against terrorism that your stats are currently accurate… ” Not my stats…not much basis for your conclusions, ERM.

    “You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.” Just a statistic…

    ” Put biddlin in a position of power, and he would probably prevent me from owning a gun since he thinks I am too mentally deficient. Put me in charge, and I might strive to prevent him from owning firearms until he attends an anger-management program and/or he stays on his meds. ” I don’t think you are mentally deficient ,Jeff . I think you are a well off racist misogynist whose main interest is keeping his pile of stuff.

  42. Frankly

    biddlin, LOL, you got the “keeping his pile of stuff” part right, although keeping it is far from my main interest. It is stuff I earned despite the the fact that Obama and left think someone else built it for me. So, you don’t have any stuff that you want to keep? I’m sure there are plenty of needy folk that would love to have some of your stuff. Tell me, why is your stuff so righteous and my stuff so worthy of scorn?

    The rest of what you wrote is just Huffington Post twaddle people use having run out of interesting things to say. If you are going to insult me, at least try to be original about it. You have before and I liked it!

  43. biddlin

    Actually Jeff, I’m pretty transcendental . Things can be taken away by all manner of means . Like most of your aspersions,the reference to your stuff being worthy of scorn is totally without foundation . You imply that I am in need of therapy and medication . This is your typically callous(Particularly if true !) way of responding to your fellow human beings . You cannot conceive that anyone else could be motivated by benevolence, compassion or a higher sense of decency than you apparently possess . I can, of course, base this opinion only on your own words .

  44. Frankly

    Sorry biddlin. I did not intend to send that message. I was just responding to your sometimes prickly writing style with my sometimes prickly writing style.

    For example: [i]”You cannot conceive that anyone else could be motivated by benevolence, compassion or a higher sense of decency than you apparently possess.”[/i]

    That is a little prickly, and quite personal wouldn’t you admit? It is also substantially false.

    It is apparent that my attempts to make and defend my opinions tends to get your goat. I will do what I can to tone down my rhetoric and edit my posts that might have me responding in a personal way.

  45. Rifkin

    JEFF: [i]”However, heavy weapons are extremely difficult to acquire and transport because of their expense and bulk.”[/i]

    One recent development in the US military is the replacement of M249 SAWs and M2’s, which are both fully automatic machine guns, but quite heavy. The current model of an M2 weighs 84 pounds. The ammo weighs another 35 pounds. The new machine guns will fall under a class known as LSAT (Lightweight Small Arms Technologies).

    This is what a modern M2 looks like:

    [img]http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/211_fall2004.web.dir/Robbie_Lynn/m2.5.jpg[/img]

    This is an LSAT prototype:

    [img]http://world.guns.ru/userfiles/images/machine/mg97/lsat_3.jpg[/img][quote]The LSAT Lightweight Small Arms Technology program was initiated by US Army early in 2000s, as an attempt to significantly reduce combat load of the infantrymen, especially those carrying the Squad Automatic Weapons / light machine guns, such as M249 SAW. In around 2004 the ATK corporation was selected as a prime contractor to develop appropriate small arms system, which would necessarily include new, lighter ammunition and a gun (guns) to fire it. Initial intent was to develop a caseless ammunition (which provides maximum savings in the weight and size), with a fall-back option for polymer cased ammunition with telescoped design (in this design bullet is fully ‘buried’ inside the powder charge withing the simple cylindrical case). By the 2010, ATK sucessfully developed both caseless (CL) and and cased telescoped (CT) ammo, and several prototype weapons to fire it. The CT ammunition and guns currently are most developed, and show average 41% weight and 13% volume reduction when compared to the standard 5.56×45 NATO ammunition. The caseless ammo shows somewhat better numbers, but it is also more expensive and, as of now, remains on earlier stages of development. Current plans are to deliver 8 LSAT machine guns and 100 000 rounds of CT ammunition to US Army by May 2011, for initial assessment. Additionally, ATK recently displayed the LSAT carbine, which fires same CT ammo from 4-row detachable box magazine, holding 42 rounds. The carbine is still in early development stage. According to the ATK presentations at NDIA 2010 symposium, the manufacturer is ready to scale the LSAT system up for more potent and promising calibers in 6.5 – 6.8mm range, but not until specifically asked to do so by the US Army. Current (mid-2010) documents suggest that it is possible to see first units equipped with LSAT small arms system by 2016.[/quote]

  46. Frankly

    Rich,

    I read about this a while ago on military.com.

    have you watched this show?
    [url]http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/sons-of-guns/[/url]

    Or this show?
    [url]http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/american-guns/[/url]

    There are people that will want to own this weapon when it is available. It will not be available to the general population for several years, if ever… it will be far too expensive for criminals and crazy people. The US will also not want the technology to get in the hands of our potential enemies. However, I get your point. As assault weapons get smaller and lighter and cheaper, we will have to adjust the line. But, as long as criminals and crazy people can acquire a particular weapon without too much difficulty, we should not restrict law-abiding people from owning them, IMO.

    Also, on my point about people wanting to own and shoot rockets, have you watched this show?
    [url]http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/rocket-city-rednecks/[/url]

    Read here about LDRS (Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships)
    [url]http://www.rocketryplanet.com/content/view/3326/29/#axzz229SEnZKp[/url]

    And here about High Powered Rocketry:
    [url]http://www.nar.org/hpcert/NARhprintro.html[/url]

  47. Rifkin

    Yes, I have seen those Discovery Channel shows. It seems like most of the buyers–at least for Sons of Guns (Red Jacket) are law enforcement specialists. I have no problem with police agencies having access to automatic or semi-automatic guns.

    Also, I think it could be fine in certain circumstances for civiilian collectors to own this sort of hardware (assuming the military does not forbid it). However, those collectors should have to acquire special ATF licenses first, which would help law enforcement know who has these guns and if they are law-abiding, sane and responsible people. Likewise, if a collector wants to sell these sorts of weapons, his buyer should also have to have a special license authorizing him to buy.

    Our public policy should be one which allows freedom for those who merit it, but does not threaten public safety by allowing easy access to dangerous weapons to people who are irresponsible, mentally unsound or have committed felonies.

  48. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]erm: ” If this country did not take a pro-active approach to terrorism, your statistics are likely to be obsolete very quickly, e.g. the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber. It is a testament to our fight against terrorism that your stats are currently accurate… ”

    biddlin: Not my stats…not much basis for your conclusions, ERM. [/quote]

    So you honestly believe that nothing this country has done since 9/11 has in any way deterred terrorism/similar incident like 9/11? Really?

  49. Frankly

    Rich: [i]”Our public policy should be one which allows freedom for those who merit it, but does not threaten public safety by allowing easy access to dangerous weapons to people who are irresponsible, mentally unsound or have committed felonies.”[/i]

    Absolutely 100% agree. In fact, stop at the word safety and it should be the standard for much of public policy. But we should be realistic in our assessment and objective in our solution.

    I managed the data center for a large bank for several years. I had to deal with a common problem of service level perceptions verses realities. We would have a mainframe outage and my internal customers would start complaining that the sky was falling. We implement new metrics (new at the time) called “mean time between failure” and “system uptime” to help combat this tendency for our constituents to forget the long period of stability and focus only on the latest outage. The problem with us addressing the perception with a solution is that the last incremental improvement in uptime was extremely expensive. It was a better business approach to retrain the organization to set their expectations to a bigger picture of quantitative reason. We had a service level of 99% uptime. That is 10 hours of downtime for every 1000 hours of uptime. We reported our uptime and MTBF every month. Then when we had an outage, we had a more “adult” dialog with our internal customers based on reasonable expectations.

    Certainly a gun massacre is not comparable to a mainfame failure. But similarily, each of these sensationally-tragic gun massacres by mentally unsound people are very rare and the real risk of death per capita from them is extremely low. We should seek ways to lower the risk further, but not by over-reacting and over-reaching.

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