Tag Archives: gun control

#Enough Thoughts and Prayers, rights aren’t necessarily conveniences

Mass Shooting Victims

The photos of the victims of mass killings in this country show the faces of America. White, black, brown, gay, straight, men, and women. From the very young to the elderly.  And they all died too soon at the hands of those who could arm themselves with lethal weapons without any inconvenience.

The 2nd Amendment says we all have the right to keep and bear arms … there is NO mention in the Amendment that purchasing firearms has to be “convenient.”

The gun fetishists among us cry that their “rights are infringed” if they are to be inconvenienced in any way when purchasing or procuring lethal weapons. They cite their imaginary well greased slippery slope to full tilt gun control.

And, lo! cry the fetishists and their allies, any imposition of a burden of responsibility is a denial of our civil liberties.  But, wait a minute. It is inconvenient to register to vote – however, that’s the inconvenience we accept to prevent voter impersonation.  It’s inconvenient to edit and fact check news articles – but that’s the inconvenience we accept as part of the freedom of the press to avoid charges of libel.

It is inconvenient for government officials to get search warrants, but that’s the balance we have to prevent unlawful searches and seizures.  It’s inconvenient for the judicial system that a person may not be compelled to testify against himself – but that’s the inconvenience we accept to make the system work under constitutional principles.

How easy it appears to be to have advocates of the implementation of the Patriot Act speaking of national surveillance, and justifying those National Security Letters, while bemoaning the restrictions on those included on the terrorist watch list who seek to purchase lethal weapons.

If we didn’t infer “convenience” in the 2nd Amendment, then might we have fewer suicides, fewer murders, fewer mass shootings and killings.  Fewer funerals, fewer remembrances, fewer tragedies, and a much safer society?



Filed under Congress, conservatism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Senate, terrorism

Why do you clutch your gun?

What are you afraid of?  You, who must be appeased because you are an embattled man, powerless to control the world spiraling around you, what do you fear?

Are you so fearful that you cannot countenance controlling lethal weapons, or  making it more difficult for those who are seriously mentally ill to procure them? You are the author of your own terror.  When everyone has a firearm, everyone will have a firearm — even those you fear the most — and then your fears will be justified?

Or, has your gun become a substitute for something else? Are you afraid of being unable to provide for you family?  Are your job skills dated? Your education truncated? Your time spent in job hunting extended?  Why do you clutch your gun? It’s not going to get you an education, more training, or more interviews.

Do you fear the loss of your “masculinity?”  What does that mean? Does it mean you can’t slap the bookkeeper Mary Ann on the fanny down at the garage?   Does it mean that you can’t brag about making babies if you don’t make child support payments?  Does it mean that people have stopped listening to you when you grouse about The Old Lady not having dinner ready for you when she gets off her second shift?  Why do you clutch your gun? It’s not going to make your relationships at work any easier. Or provide you with a sense of the responsibility associated with parenting. Or even add any economic security to your two income household.

Do you fear the diminishment of your sense of self worth?  Can we ask how you calculate that value?  Is how much you are worth a function of the size of your paycheck, or it is based on the joy you take from your workmanship, craftsmanship, or competency you bring to your employment?   Is how much you are worth a function of some  sense of entitlement because you are The Man?  Why do you clutch your gun? Would you caress it less often if you understood that self worth is elevated when you can share the rewards of your efforts at being a good worker, a good parent, a good friend, and good partner with someone you’ve helped to become a better worker, a better parent, a better friend, and a more loving partner?

Are you afraid of The Other?  Are ‘they’ going to invade your home? Would you be less afraid if you read the crime statistics in your area? If you remembered that only 1% of the murders in Nevada happened in the course of a burglary? [DB]  If you recalled that there is a ‘geography’ of criminal behavior  in which most criminals indulge in criminal behavior close to their own neighborhoods and generally don’t move into areas in which they aren’t familiar with the terrain, would that make you less anxious?

Would you be less insecure if you recalled that the most prevalent crime in Nevada is good old fashioned larceny?  As of 2012 there were 45,237 of those — compared to a grand total of 5,954 murders (118), rapes (923), and robberies (4,913) combined? [NVACR pdf]

Why do you clutch your gun if only in the most perfect set of circumstances it would offer you and yours protection?  IF you were perfectly awake, and the firearm was loaded and at the ready, and IF the burglar(s) followed your directions to the letter, and IF you were absolutely certain the projectile would strike its target without careening off into the unknown, and IF everything would work to your benefit as easily as scoring points in a video game…

Why do you clutch your gun as if it were the only option available to you?  You are less likely to be robbed while walking a dog — get a dog! Don’t have a dog? — borrow the neighbor’s mutt — the neighbors will appreciate it, and the dog will love it. You are less likely to be assaulted when walking with someone else — walk with a partner. You are less likely to be the victim of a crime if you are in a well lighted area — make sure the public works department knows when your street lights are out.  You are less likely to be a victim of a burglary if you have a security system — there are a plethora of options on the market.  Can’t afford the system — just plant a sign.  Don’t want the sign? Plant some cactus under your windows — they don’t take much water and who wants to climb over a cactus on the way to a TV set?  There are carload lots of other options, none of which are as dangerous in the home as that firearm.

Why do you clutch your gun, when there are so many other dangers to you and your family which your gun will not remotely solve?  For example, about 25% of school children report they’ve been bullied at school  [SchBStat] That’s far higher than the probability that your child will be attacked by a home invader!  The gun in the drawer by the bed won’t solve that problem, but a quiet chat with your middle schooler about how he or she is feeling at school will yield the information you’ll need to keep the scion safer on the playground.

While you’re fantasizing about protecting the family from imaginary invaders — have you considered that your child is at greater health risk from obesity?  Enough fast food and poor eating habits and the probability of your child having life threatening problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis increases proportionately. [CDC]  Unless your child will only address a vegetable at gun point, the firearm isn’t really useful.  However, if you want to keep your child alive and healthy in the long run, “Eat Your Vegetables” will go much further than “grab your gun.”

Want to protect your wife? Approximately 54% of the respondents in a study of workplace safety reported some form of harassment, and 79% of those victims were women. [Aware]  Would you feel more secure if you knew that your spouse was knowledgeable about the policies at the workplace or about whom to contact? Only about a third in the survey knew about the company policies, and only about half knew whom to contact.  Have you asked your wife if she’s aware of the policies and the procedures?   Would you support her if she filed a report?  That doesn’t require a firearm — just a supportive spouse.

If you aren’t afraid, and you just enjoy shooting rounds at the firing range, and you take care of your firearms — keeping them operative, clean, and safely stored — then by all means have them, care for them, and enjoy your hobby!  But please don’t delude yourself that they will make you any more of a worthy person than you are. People who measure themselves by their possessions — are simply possessed.

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Fears, Phobias, Guns, and Children

The report on the Sparks, NV school shooting was made available last week. [RGJ]  Unfortunately, there’s not much to be learned.  A child with serious mental health issues.  Parents unaware of his taste for violent video games.  A child teased at school, often misinterpreting generalized incidents as personal attacks.  School tried to offer assistance.  Parents insistent the child did not have easy access to firearms.  Child may have had suicidal ideation.

Since the report was released newspapers have posted stories about the accidental death of a four year old Indiana boy who found a loaded gun in his parent’s bedroom. The death was attributed to an “accident.”  [TPM]  A San Antonio, TX six year old is dead after being shot in the face with a gun found in the home. [TPM] April 22, 2014: A four year old girl was shot and killed in her Des Moines, IA home and police noted “unsafe gun handling” practices in the house. [KCCI]

April 29, 2014: A toddler was killed by a firearm found in a home in Wichita, KS, shot by a sibling. [KWCH]  March 5, 2014: A five year old boy found a gun in his Riverside, CA house, fired it and killed himself. [NBC4]

The numbers keep adding up. Numbers of parents who thought the firearms were ‘properly’ stored, the number of children who find them, and the number of tragedies which unfold across the country in the aftermath.   Even more depressing, the ‘numbers’ may be higher than official accounting.  “A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities.” [NYT]

However, while children may be either intentionally or accidentally using firearms which they are not supposed to be able to access, the adults appear to be playing numbers games, to wit:

“The National Rifle Association cited the lower official numbers this year in a fact sheet opposing “safe storage” laws, saying children were more likely to be killed by falls, poisoning or environmental factors — an incorrect assertion if the actual number of accidental firearm deaths is significantly higher.” [NYT]

The numbers may very well be higher than the reporting used by the NRA, but that’s missing the mark.  The point is that less than half the states in this Union have safe storage laws.  Nevada’s statute on the subject approaches the issue, but falls short of requiring safe storage.

NRS 41.472 Imposition of liability for minor’s negligence or willful misconduct regarding firearm.
1. If a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for a minor under the age of 18 years:
(a) Knows that the minor has previously been adjudicated delinquent or has been convicted of a criminal offense;
(b) Knows that the minor has a propensity to commit violent acts; or
(c) Knows or has reason to know that the minor intends to use the firearm for unlawful purposes,
and permits the minor to use or possess a firearm, any negligence or willful misconduct of the minor in connection with such use or possession is imputed to the person who permits such use or possession for all purposes of civil damages, and, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection 2 of NRS 41.470, that person is jointly and severally liable with the minor for any and all damages caused by such negligence or willful misconduct.

In short, the parents have to KNOW the child is delinquent, KNOW the child has a propensity to violence, and KNOW the child intends to use a firearm to commit a criminal act BEFORE liability comes into play.   Nothing in the Nevada statute requires “safe storage” if there are children in the household.  [See: LCPGV]

The counter argument is that safely stored guns make households more likely to be ravaged by “violent home intruders.” [KBA]  Anecdotal evidence is often supplied to make this case, however the statistically based study conducted in 1997 for JAMA yields another result:

“Laws that make gun owners responsible for storing firearms in a manner that makes them inaccessible to children were in effect for at least 1 year in 12 states from 1990 through 1994. Among children younger than 15 years, unintentional shooting deaths were reduced by 23% (95% confidence interval, 6%-37%) during the years covered by these laws. This estimate was based on within-state comparisons adjusted for national trends in unintentional firearm-related mortality.”  [NCBI]

There’s an obvious hole in the “home invader” argument — there’s a higher probability that the firearm will cause harm to a resident of the household than to a purported home invader. [Medscape] [NCBI] [AJE]   The second hole in the argument is that actual home invasions are rare.

Contrary to the melodramas on television, violent crimes represent only 19.7% of the criminal acts reported in Nevada, this would include all murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.   If we drill down to the murder category — 24% were the result of an argument, 17% were the result of domestic violence, while 2% were the result of a robbery and 1% the result of a burglary. [NV 2010 pdf]

Strangers accounted for 20.5% of the  2010 murders, while family members, friends, acquaintances, former partners, and dating relationships comprised the majority of the relationships.  (Note: Reporting variances leave some relationships in the “unknown” category. [NV 2010 pdf]  In short, the old saw holds true, a person is most likely to be a victim because of the actions of another person known to him or her than to some unknown robber or burglar.

The lethality point is quickly demonstrated in the 2010 statistics.  In 2010 handguns were the lethal weapon of choice 53.4% of the time, long guns 5.6%, knives 13.7%, feet/fists 11.2%, the wonderfully nebulous “blunt instrument” accounted for 6/2%. [NV 2010 pdf]

What do we know and have we known for some time now?

(1) Safe storage requirements can reduce unintentional shooting deaths by approximately 23% for children under the age of 15.

(2) There is a far higher statistical probability that a firearm will cause injury or death to a member of the household than it will be used to thwart the invasion of the home by criminals.

(3) It is less likely that a person will be murdered in Nevada by a stranger than by a member or former member of a household.  And, if murder is the result of an altercation the weapon most likely used will be a handgun.

(4) Since the Newtown tragedy,” Of the K-12 school shootings in which the shooter’s age was known, 70 percent (20 of 28 incidents) were perpetrated by minors. Among those shootings where it was possible to determine the source of the firearm, three-quarters of the shooters obtained their guns from home.” [WaPo] (emphasis added)

With every right comes responsibility.  Firearms and children are obviously not a good mixture.  Gun safety education is a good idea, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. However, gun safety training is not effective with toddlers, toilet training is about all they can handle and even that requires constant attention.  It is not always a match for youthful inquisitiveness.  It is not going to prevent a young person with homicidal or suicidal ideation from seeing the weapon as a means to unfortunate ends.

If the adults in the home are obsessed with fears of home invasions (Black Helicopters, federal agents, Blue Helmets, Drug Gangs, etc.) and so phobic that they believe firearms must be kept constantly at the ready — then for all intents and purposes the home isn’t safe for children in the first place.   Nor does it do to disparage the Gadget Proposals — trigger locks, smart guns, etc. — yes, these can be over-ridden, but the fact that they can be over-ridden doesn’t necessarily support the argument that they can’t be effective.  And, in every instance in which they are effective we have one less tragedy to report.

If we really want our children and their schools to be safer, we don’t need an abundance of the weapons which make them unsafe in the first place, we need:

(a) More recent and more informed gun incident reporting statutes and practices.

(b) More attention paid to gun safety as a health issue, especially for children under the age of 18.

(c) More stringent gun storage statutes which protect children in homes where firearms are present.

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When Will It Be Enough?

The Washington Post printed this chart of gun deaths in developed nations in December 2012:

Gun Death Chart by countryUSA Today has an interactive chart for those wishing to review the violence we’ve perpetrated on one another in 2013.  Suffice it to say there are entirely too many entries in this database.

When will the numbers be too staggering?  The incidents too horrific?  The arguments of the rabid radicals too specious?

It’s taken 30+ years for the National Rifle Association to convince the public that the Second Amendment is to be interpreted by their lights only.   The neo-Confederates, and related “militia” members are even willing to carry the NRA argument to its obvious extension — any person should be able to acquire any weapon necessary to take on the Evil Government — missile launchers anyone?

It’s taken 30+ years for the NRA and associated gun manufacturers to disseminate their message that the only answer to gun violence is more people armed with more guns willing to do more violence.

It’s taken 30+ years for people to think of school security not in terms of open and easy exits in case of fire, but in terms of sealed exits and magnetometers to prevent gun violence in our schools.

A cowardly Congress had the opportunity to take the least restrictive measures imaginable in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.  They passed.  Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bill, the House of Representatives didn’t even address the issue.

A Washington, D.C. punditry — the Beltway Babblers — pontificated that the President must have failed because the opposition Party in the Cocktail Party Circuit Court of Opinion refused to cooperate.  He should have “cooperated more?”  The Senate bill which died as a result of the filibuster didn’t even contain the assault weapons ban, didn’t have a limit on ammunition capacity, didn’t prevent straw purchases, didn’t require comprehensive background checks… How much more were the Democrats supposed to compromise?  Perhaps, “compromise” means giving the Republicans everything they want?

However, it’s easy to imagine that had the President not offered even the soft provisions of the Manchin Amendment, the Beltway Babblers would have noted the President had “caved” to pressure.  Nowhere in the prolixity did anyone consider that it is a strange standard indeed to hold a President responsible for the behavior of the opposition party.

We don’t need a proliferation of guns.  We have enough.  We have a situation in which fewer people are buying more weapons.  And, we have more than enough instances of babysitters leaving weapons unattended with tragic consequences, children playing with firearms with deadly effect, toddlers setting off firearms accidentally.

There are NO rights which do not come with responsibilities.  A responsible gun owner locks and stores guns properly.  A responsible gun owner doesn’t encourage gun violence.   A responsible gun owner supports closing the gun show loophole, and shutting down the straw purchases of guns which all too often fall conveniently into the hands of gangs and criminals.

I am frankly very tired of the antiquated arguments of gun enthusiasts.  I am even more exhausted by their circumlocution and specious contentions.  However, one has to admire their focus.  They are single issue voters of the first water.  Their enthusiasm is boundless.  And…they are rapidly turning me into a single issue voter as well, just on the other side of their issue.

I am not willing to accept a vision of America as a violent nation, a country willing to sacrifice its children on the altar of Gun Rights.   One youngster in a Denver hospital, in a coma, is one too many.

Enough is Enough.

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Four Steps to a Safer Society

Assault RifleDon’t talk to me about “mass shootings are just rare manifestations of mental illness,” unless you intend to offer suggestions concerning how we cope with those suffering from mental illness, emotional problems, or behavioral issues.   I have in mind some notions which seem like sound judgment,  not necessarily founded in any specialized knowledge of the subject.

#1. Adequately fund mental health care services at the state and national level.

Nevada, currently being sued by San Francisco for its dubious practice of “transporting” mentally ill individuals beyond its jurisdiction, [NBC]  has been warned — this from a mental health professional back in April 2013:

“Dr. Dale Carrison, the chief of staff and head of emergency medicine at University Medical Center, is more blunt.  “The mental health system has been broken since I got to Las Vegas 22 years ago,” Carrison said. “There aren’t a lot of options for people. Every time they cut the budget they cut the mental health budget first. We do a very poor job of evaluating them and treating them. At some point, you’ve got to say the state just doesn’t care.” [LVRJ]

Nevada wasn’t (isn’t) alone in its refusal to enact budgets which competently address the problems associated with mental illness and substance abuse.  NAMI issued its 2011 Report (pdf)  citing cuts in California’s mental health services totaled $587.4 million, New York cut its budget by $132 million, Illinois cut $113.7 million, and Arizona cut its mental health care budget by $108.4 million.  Nevada made the list of the largest cuts as a percentage of its total mental health care budget:  (1) Alaska by 35%, (2) South Carolina by 23%, (3) Arizona 23%, (4) Washington, D.C. 19%, (5) Nevada 17%, (6) Kansas 16%, (7) California 16%, (8) Illinois 15%, (9) Mississippi 15%, (10) Hawaii 12.1%.   We ought not take pride in being on this “Top Ten List.”

The situation at the national level isn’t much better.  Already at a parsimonious level, the sequestration of federal funds for non-defense discretionary categories further stretches already strained mental health research and service budgets.  Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, issued this warning about further cuts to mental health care funding:

“These cuts will be disastrous to communities and individuals living with mental health and substance use conditions. States have already cut mental health budgets by a combined $4 billion over the past three years-the largest single combined reduction to mental health spending since de-institutionalization in the 1970s. Cuts enacted by sequestration are estimated to reduce non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding anywhere from 7.5 to 12 percent across-the-board. Given one in every four Americans lives with a mental health or substance use condition, and more than 67 percent of adults and 80 percent of children who need services do not receive treatment, maintaining discretionary federal funding for mental health and substance abuse services is pivotal to ensure citizens have access to behavioral health care.”  (emphasis added)

What efficacy do we expect from a system in which we have reduced the allocation of resources by the largest amount in the past 3 decades?  There are about 316,000,000 Americans, and if approximately 25% need mental health care or substance abuse assistance then that’s nearly 79 million people in need of help and care.  If at present 67% of adults and 80% of children who need help aren’t getting it now, what makes us think that sequestering funds for services and further limiting the funds available for mental, behavioral, and substance abuse assistance will make the situation any better?

#2.  Improve the record keeping and coordination between mental health entities and law enforcement services.   SB 221 enacted by the Nevada state legislature would have helped, but the NRA beholden Governor vetoed it.   It’s going to take personnel to get this done.  People are going to have to be hired to do data entry, to coordinate information sharing, and to maintain the integrity of the records.  Again, if we’re serious about resolving the problems associated with mentally ill persons securing deadly weapons then this is an expenditure which makes sense.

#3. Implement the provisions of the Affordable Care Act which deal with health insurance coverage of mental health care services.    If we are serious about providing adequate mental health care services to individuals who might hurt themselves or others, then it’s fulsomely obvious that 41 votes to repeal, delay, or defund the provisions of the Affordable Care are patently silly.

The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance corporations to issue policies which cover depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for children at no extra cost.  Further, coverage for mental health and substance abuse is expanded and given the federal parity protections.  Going a step further, an insurance corporation may not decline coverage for pre-existing conditions, including mental illness.

#4. Enact common sense restrictions on the possession of firearms.   (a) Require background checks for all gun sales.  Legitimate, honest gun dealers already do this. The illegitimate, and dishonest ones need to be put out of business.  There is nothing “onerous” about a background check — it takes a matter of minutes, and if our record keeping systems are functional, then some people who should not possess firearms can be weeded out before they cause injury to themselves or others.  (b) Enact limits on the ammunition capacity.   If I haven’t shot “the burglar” after 15 rounds, the chances are I’m not going to.  The only thing I’m going to accomplish is to do more damage to my property than the erstwhile hypothetical burglar ever dreamed of doing.  (c) Crack down on gun trafficking.  There’s an unhealthy level of profit for people who traffic in stolen guns, and who transport guns both stolen and purchased in states with lax gun sale requirements.  New York City police recently arrested two gun smugglers from North and South Carolina who tried to offload 254 guns into the NYC market. [CNN] (d) Ban the sale of “assault weapons.”  Yes, a person can be killed by a bullet from a single shot .22 caliber gun; BUT weapons which are designed to, or can be easily modified for, rapid fire merely serve to increase the carnage.

A few common sense steps might reverse the trends in this chart from GunPolicy.Org.

Gun Death Chart 2*Alpers, Philip and Marcus Wilson. 2013. Guns in the United States: Facts, Figures and Firearm Law. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. GunPolicy.org, 27 August. Accessed 18 September 2013.

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Cattle RoundupNevada’s mental health care “system” which seems to garner more really bad press than actually provide services to alleviate suffering, has now earned us a law suit from San Francisco for “patient dumping.” Nevada Progressive has a summary piece that updates the issue, and reviews the background.

Remember when Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) was all a-flutter about Democratic members of Congress using franking privileges to send mail to their constituents?  (2010) Who has spent the most sending mail? Now we discover, in the Nevada Viewwho is the King of Mail? Surprise, surprise… it’s Representative Joe Heck! Who’da thunk it.

Well, here’s a victory for the NRA — Blind and want to carry a firearm in public in Iowa — there’s a permit for that. “I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John LeClere said. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.” at Crooks and Liars.  What could possibly go wrong?   Interesting posts and pieces on the Colorado recall elections at the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post.   Perhaps a lesson to be drawn is: Numbers are nice, but passionate ‘numbers’ are better in off year elections.   Before drawing conclusions, please take a look at “What the Colorado Recall Doesn’t Prove,” MMFA.

The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus notes that there is now less than 40 days  left in this pathetic Congressional session.  Guess what isn’t on the agenda?  Hint: Immigration policy reform.

Speaking of things not directly addressed, The Gavel reports a poll with the following results:

81 percent of men and 93 percent of women said public policy should address workplace challenges such as equal pay, paid sick leave, and paid maternity leave; 87 percent of women and 80 percent of men – including 83 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats – believe paid maternity leave should be required; 31 percent of women think they would be paid more if they were female;  and 20 percent of men agree they would be paid less if they were female.

However, we all know that the real business of the 113th Congress is obstructing the Affordable Care Act.  Now the GOP obstruction is taking the form of “If we can’t defund it…let’s delay it.” Talking Points Memo.   Right! … because the American people might just want things like coverage for mental health care services (see above), coverage for children under their parents’ plans, insurance coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, insurance coverage for women’s health issues, insurance coverage for elderly people for preventative screenings, and the happy notion that at least 80% of insurance premiums collected from policy holders  should be spent on … wait for it… covered medical services.  Oh, and then there’s the marketplace things wherein people who don’t have insurance can select from a variety of private company plans on offer…

And, oops … it turns out that more companies are planning to hire more full time employees as Obamacare rolls out. Think Progress

There is some good news for families on the economic front — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is showing how a little external pressure can spur banks toward more self regulation.   More at the Demos Blog.

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A Matter of Motivation?

Sniper RifleWe can guess that the individual described in a Las Vegas Sun article wasn’t motivated by altruism: “The 63-year-old killed Tuesday in a shootout with Henderson Police had an arsenal of more than 150 firearms in his house, but detectives’ search of Edward J. Scheboth’s house yielded no clues for a motive, authorities said.”  [LVSun]

It also doesn’t seem unreasonable to state that I really don’t care how many firearms a person collects — just as I don’t care how many cans of soup a person has in their pantry — BUT when one of those firearms is taken outside the home and used to shoot at a police officer sitting in a patrol car, then I care, and care deeply.

I care when Michael Hill takes an AK-47 and 500 rounds into a Georgia school with the evident intent of replicating the horror in Newtown, Connecticut.  We should care that the incident was defused by an incredibly courageous school employee who “talked him down.” [ChiTrib]

I care when Governor Christie signs a bill into the statutes of the State of New Jersey (in a bit of groveling to the NRA) which allows the private ownership of 50 caliber sniper rifles, capable of projecting palm sized ammo into heavy armor a mile away.  No matter, evidently, that he had called for this legislation last year.  Suddenly, these weapons of war are “necessary” for private recreation.  [Nation] As if flying into the Newark Airport isn’t exciting enough already, we can now wonder if some “collector” might be moved to bring back the good old days during WWII when the .50 BMG was used in the M2 Browning machine gun for anti-aircraft purposes?  Conservative commentators are pleased to note that .50 caliber sniper rifles are “never used in crimes, ” [WashTimes]  Well, now one supposes they could be…  However, gone now from the New Jersey shores are any requirements that gun owners be licensed, or that there be a ban on private gun sale exchanges without a background check.

Perhaps we should care more that gun enthusiasts are fond of citing the levels of mental illness associated with gun violence incidents, while  some of those self-same defenders of freedom join the chorus of “Less Government, Lower Taxes” calling for the reduction in spending, even if that reduction slashes the budgets of state mental health programs.

Nor do we seem to be sufficiently concerned about the horrific fact that as of 8/22/13 the CDC reports 21,982 people in this country have been killed by guns. [Slate]

Presumably, this number does not yet include the victim of a teen thrill killing in Oklahoma, during which three teens sated their boredom by shooting a college student in the back. [WaPo]

At some point the national discussion needs to incorporate several elements we’ve been loath to address.  (1) What is the appropriate level of public spending for mental health care services?  Should we increase federal and state expenditures for mental health care services even if this requires an increase in taxation?  (2) What are appropriate firearms for individual ownership?  We restrict fully automatic weapons, but not weapons which can be easily modified to achieve the same result.  Do we really want “anti-aircraft” weapons in private hands?   (3) Might requiring a quick background check for gun show, Internet, and private sales assist law enforcement in keeping guns out of the hands of those who ought not to possess them? The seriously mentally ill, felons, fugitives, unsupervised (bored?) children…?

Until we are able to have an adult discussion about (4) gun trafficking, straw man purchases, and the transferring of stolen firearms, we’ll continue to see a flow of weapons from regions with few restrictions into areas with tighter controls.  The NYPD recently arrested two individuals who trafficked a combination of 254 stolen and legally purchased guns from the Carolinas. [CNN]  What would be the best solution to this law enforcement problem?

A nation which stolidly absorbs the deaths of 21,982 people, while parroting dueling talking points and focus group slogans about gun restrictions, might have its own motives questioned?

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