Posts Tagged ‘gun control’

Gun Control

June 25, 2017

Update, October 2017: Before you read my essay, read this one to get a better feel for the background and history.

I am not a gun enthusiast. In the AF I qualified on both the M-16 and the .38, but was never called upon to fire them for real (In VietNam, I did come close a couple of times). At home, I’ve never owned a gun, and only once ever had guns stored in the house – a friend was waiting to move into his new house and asked me to keep his shotguns. I have not thought through all the policy implications, but here’s a couple thoughts on the arguments over gun control and America’s right to bear arms.

A Well Regulated Militia
My interpretation of the Second Amendment (not that the Supremes ever asked me), is that it should be read in its entirety:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Tortured arguments about 18th Century punctuation apart, to me that implies that every person who owns a gun is also subject to being part of a well-regulated Militia. And that means they should be subject to some minimal level of formal training (and who could be against training for gun owners?), and registered with the Militia, subject to callup if the State requires it. They wouldn’t be in the Reserves, nor even in the Guard. They’d be the Militia, available if the Guard and Reserve both fail (or, say, are over fighting in Pakistan). Their Constitutional right to own the weapon should not be infringed, but they should be subject to swingeing fines if they fail to uphold their Constitutional responsibilities. David Brown, over at The Week, has a much-better thought-out version of this idea.

In Switzerland, they actually do something like this. They have universal military service, most of which is spent in the reserves, and soldiers are required to keep their weapons at home. When they finish their period of service, they can elect to keep the weapon.

Defending the Castle
Second, according to the gun lobby, one reason to own a gun is home defense. If you have a gun in your home, and are properly trained, you are in a position to defend yourself and your family and your belongings. In other words, a weaponized house is a safe house. OK, let us, as they say, look at the numbers. Let’s follow the money.

A. The numbers are pretty straightforward. Guns kill Americans. Guns kill women at higher rates. If you are awakened by a prowler in your darkened house at 2AM and you exercise your right of property defense, you are far more likely, when you turn on the lights, to find your prodigal son, back from a late night karaoke party than you are some sort of evildoer. If a woman is found shot dead in her home, the first and most logical suspect is her estranged boyfriend. So, the numbers are pretty bleak. But what about the money?

B. From a monetary standpoint, if a weaponized house is safer, then weaponized homes should qualify for lower insurance rates, both homeowners insurance (say, get a gun credit just like you do a burgler alarm credit), and medical insurance (like non-smoker’s rebate, due to less chance of being beaten by thugs). Yet even the Affordable Care Act contains prohibitions against doctors or insurance companies collecting information on gun ownership. There’s a number of possible reasons why this is so.

  1.  One is that the weapons=safety argument is false, and the people making it know it’s false and they are using a legislative trick to prevent being penalized for their lies.
  2.  On the other hand, this could even be seen as part of a widespread conspiracy to undermine the ability of the insurance companies to make money by offering lower rates to gun owners.
  3.  Or, finally, this could be part of a conspiracy by the insurance companies to require them to offer the same rates to everyone, and thereby make additional profits by gouging the responsible gun owners.

I’m in favor of Reason 1, lying liars. Why? Because the NRA has essentially admitted this: “NRA officials say they requested the provision out of concern that insurance companies could use such data to raise premiums on gun owners.

Opposing Tyranny
America is proud of its heroic, Revolutionary past, where the Patriots rose up to overthrow a tyrannical government, and thus established armed opposition to tyranny as part of our national culture. Thomas Jefferson said that a little rebellion was good for a Democracy, and that we should experience one every generation or so. This justified two hundred and fifty years of distrust of “the government”, and led a certain segment of the population to decide that it was their duty to arm themselves against the day they would be called up to once again oppose tyranny. Of course, any illusion that a group of fanatics, armed with deer rifles, are a match for a modern military force is just that, an illusion, or maybe a delusion.

These are the people who believe in the theory of the Deep State, and who periodically (every time a Democrat gets in office) buy more arms so they may fight it. They are the ones who oppose all record-keeping on guns, ammunition, and gun violence because they believe such records could be used by the government when it comes to take their guns. Of course, such a list already exists. It’s called the membership roll of the NRA. And if NRA has the list on a computer, you can bet that NSA also has that list.

Discussion
The problem is, we are a violent society. It’s rooted deep in our DNA. In other words, we, as a society, are mentally ill. An insurance company would call it a pre-existing condition.

So, what is to be done? Ban all pistols, and strictly control all rifles and shotguns like they do in England, the Mother Country from whence our society came? (Full disclosure: I lived in England for four years, wandered major cities after dark, and never felt unsafe one day in my life there.) Can’t be done, you say. Remember our roots as a rebellious collection of lawbreakers? OK, suppose we ban all pistols, and strictly control all rifles and shotguns like they do in Australia, that dumping ground for as rebellious a collection of lawbreakers as you’ll see in the whole Anglo-Saxon world? We’re far too sick for that, you say? OK, why don’t we take the lying liars at their word, embrace the NRA, and make the NRA’s own gun safety rules a federal law? Here’s Stonekettle Station’s proposal. The formal part starts about seven screens down, at the poster picture. Basically, it says the NRA guidelines should become the law of the land, particularly the part about personal responsibility for any weapon you hold or handle. This won’t even begin to halt all gun crime in the US, but it will put a dent in it. It’s a start.

BTW, here is a summary of the effect of strong gun control in Australia and Japan.

Heinlein said that an armed society is a polite society. To which I add — eventually. And it requires that you value politeness above all other things. And that you don’t mind having a high mortality rate.

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Guns and Games, an Update

February 8, 2013

A while back I blogged about the relationship between video games and gun deaths. The web comic Virtual Shackles does a better job of it than I did.

Correlation and Causation and Guns and Games

December 20, 2012

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the relationship between video games and gun violence. The TL;DR version is: There isn’t any, get over it. Here’s a helpful graphic. Notice how the datapoints fail to cluster along the hypothesized trendline.

Source: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

The study they posted compared spending on video games in different countries, vs gun deaths in those countries. Leaving out China, a distinct social and governmental entity all its own, video game spending varies by a factor of almost three, from Germany to socially similar Netherlands. Gun deaths vary from near zero in the UK and Japan, to 0.5 per 100,000 in Canada, which is almost an outlier, because everyone else is down near 0.25. Except for the US, of course, which is a true outlier at 3.2 — for a country that spends less per capita than even Germany. (more…)

Gun Control

August 29, 2012

It’s beginning to look like the first goal of gun control legislation should be to remove weapons from the hands of the police. The recent Empire State Building incident is a good example. A deranged man kills one person, puts away the gun, and walks away. The police catch up to him, he takes out the gun but does not fire, and from ten feet away they spray enough bullets to kill him, and wound nearly twenty other people. Talk about a mass shooting incident. And it’s not an isolated incident. Three police officers down in Texas recently pumped tens of rounds into an innocent ex-Marine who answered the door carrying a safetied weapon. (My objection isn’t that he was shot, but that he was shot again and again and again).

When I lived in the DC area, it seemed impossible for a DC policeman to draw his weapon without some poor bystander getting shot. Or maybe a fellow officer. Or sometimes, himself. Very occasionally the target person would get hit, but that was mostly by accident.

I was in the Pentagon when the first person ever killed there was shot in 1987. (more…)

Gun control

August 18, 2012

This is what happens when you make it hard for citizens to own handguns.