Tag Archives: gun regulation

Representative Government?

Not that popular polling is always the best way to govern, but the current capacity of the Republican controlled federal government to ignore public opinion is amazing.  For example, the Republican tax plan has a 26% approval rating [PR] 91% of Democrats, and perhaps more importantly, 61% of independent voters disapprove of the plan.  66% of Republicans approve of the plan, but we have to remember 37% of the American public identifies with the GOP. [HP]

While we’re remembering the horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago (and not forgetting the massacre at the Las Vegas music concert) we know that 32% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats, and 62% of independents support stronger guns laws in this country. Overall support for stricter control of firearms stands at 60%. [PR]

The FCC decision to eliminate the net neutrality rules, some of which go back to the less than golden age of dial up, isn’t popular either.  Polling found that 83% of registered voters disliked the idea, 75% of whom were Republican and 89% of Democrats.  86% of registered voters who were independent didn’t like the idea either.   However, the FCC marched on with a 17% approval rating for its new “light touch” policy.

It seems that whenever the President* starts feeling the heat from Congressional, popular, or media sources he retreats to his anti-immigration rhetoric.  The Wall seems either literally or metaphorically important to him, but it isn’t all that much in the eyes of the nation he’s supposed to be leading.  36% of registered voters support The Wall, while 62% oppose it. [PR]   Voters were given three choices about Dreamers, stay and apply for citizenship, stay but not as citizens, or leave the country.  The December Marist poll found 58% supporting the stay/citizenship option, 23% supported stay but not as citizens, and only 15% supported deportation.   As of the week of December 6th the Quinnipiac Poll found 77% supporting the stay/citizenship application option, 7% supported the stay with no citizenship option, and only 12% supporting the deportation option.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen polling about Vladimir Putin, the other half of the Trump-Putin bromance.  There was some polling done last Summer which might be instructive.  Last July only 15% of Americans had a positive feeling about Putin, and as of late June 2017 approximately 50% of Americans felt the President* was too friendly with the Russian leader. [PR]

A person might think that a leader who isn’t stone deaf to public sentiment or stonewalling to protect his self image might want to consider how best to reach toward a broader audience, and to cultivate something more than a 32% approval rating.  Apparently that consideration isn’t getting much traction in the current White House.

Nor does it seem like the first session of the 115th Congress is paying much attention either.  In fact, it looks like the GOP is doing the drafting of the Democratic Platform for 2018 — Net Neutrality, DACA, common sense gun regulation, immigration reform, and real tax reform for working Americans.  The 32% President and his 37% party are perhaps doing the best they can to elevate the Democratic Party in the mid term elections?

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Filed under Gun Issues, Immigration, Net Neutrality, Politics, Taxation

Catching On To Some Obvious Conclusions: Guns and the Silver State

If you’ve not yet read the Reno Gazette Journal op-ed by Cory Farley on common sense and guns … click over now … you can always come back.  Spoiler:

“Increasingly — not fast enough, but increasingly — society doesn’t care what you think, either. If you’re looking at 50-odd bodies and nearly 500 wounded, maimed, permanently changed people who were just out to hear a little music and drink a little beer, and you’re shrugging that off as the price they had to pay for your stop-the-tyrants or protect-your-family fantasies, you are the problem, and the nation is catching on to you.”

Those fantasies are groomed, massaged, and perpetrated by the NRA and the even more outlandish Gun Owners of America.

The NRA source of income? “The bulk of the group’s money now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources.” [BI]

“Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabela’s, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson.” [BI]

The political money, of course, comes from other streams.  During the upcoming campaign season notice if that pro-gun rights flyer is coming from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a front group for the NRA.  That’s the primary industry trade association.  However, we won’t see the NSSF, or the CEO of Freedom Group, or the CEO of Beretta, in front of the microphones after another mass shooting, the NRA will take front and center.  The organization acts as a shield (or barrier) between the industry and activists who want more regulation of firearms in this country.

The political money comes from the NRA’s “NRA Political Victory Fund,”  which is where the small ($35.00 arithmetical mean donation) and the not-so-small ($50,000) donors come into the picture.  The lobbying funds come from the “NRA Institute for Legislative Action.” [CNNmoney]  There are two actions they’d like to see on the immediate legislative agenda: the unregulated sale of silencers; and, reciprocity of concealed carry permits across state lines.

There’s nothing like hearing paeans to Liberty, Freedom, and Small Government from the NRA, and then listening to the calls to override state and local restrictions on firearms and accessories.   And, getting an earful of “Freedom” folk who don’t mind the proliferation of weapons as long as they feel their own personal arsenal is secure from government clutches.

One of the less convincing arguments set forth by proliferators states that more regulation won’t solve the last tragedy, and besides most gun deaths are suicides…

The Suicide Trap 

After each mass shooting or other tragic event we get the same rhetoric from the NRA public relations department:  Guns make us safer, and most gun deaths are the result of suicide.  No, and yes.

“The nine states that rank lowest in terms of gun prevalence are the very same nine that rank lowest for suicide rates. Similarly, the three states top-ranked for gun prevalence can be found among the four states ranking highest for suicide rates.” [HarvardMed]

This would make sense, given that there are 44,193 suicides annually, 49.8% of these are firearm related. [AFSPGuidance published in the American Family Physician suggests that treatment for suicidal ideation should include an evaluation of the person’s “plan,” and if the person has access to a firearm.  Poor social support, poor judgment, and access to a gun usually leads to a decision to immediately hospitalize a client.  Sadly, untreated patients with poor social support, poor judgment, and a fun end up in the statistics.  What makes this information relevant for Nevada policy makers is that those with suicidal ideation generally come in three classifications: immediate risk, short term risk, and long term risk.  And, here comes the bad news for those at immediate or short term risk — there is no waiting period in the state of Nevada for the purchase of a firearm.

It is left to the judgment of the gun seller — ranging from a reliable, experienced, and empathetic salesperson to a quick sale artiste in the parking lot at a gun show — to determine if the person making the purchase is looking to make that purchase for all the wrong reasons.  Wrong reasons coupled with the lethality element is a formula for tragedy:

“Firearms suicide accounted for six percent of attempts, and 54 percent of fatalities in one study that examined hospital data from eight states. For comparison, drug or poison overdosing accounted for 71 percent of attempts but only 12 percent of fatalities.” [Trace]

Thus in Nevada we leave it to the gun seller to determine if the person wanting the firearm is someone contemplating suicide, and if the buyer is likely to be one of those 6% of attempts who will be among the 54% of fatalities; a heavy burden since suicide is the 9th (or 10th) most common cause of death in the U.S.

A reasonable waiting period would at the very least absolve the gun dealer from responsibility for those in the immediate risk category and perhaps a few more in the short term risk classification; not to mention preventing the lethal act which never fails to harm families and friends.  Waiting 72 hours for a hand gun shouldn’t be so much of an inconvenience in light of the prospect of preventing an immediate or short term suicide decision.  There is something else we could do as well.

Background Checks

The last public polling done on the subject of universal background checks shows that 94% of all Americans, including 93% of Republicans and 95% of Independents, and 98% of Democrats.   One doesn’t see that kind of agreement in many other topics.  Meanwhile in Nevada:

“Nevada voters in November on a vote of 50.45 percent to 49.55 percent passed a measure requiring federal background checks for sales of guns between private individuals. The new requirement to close what some call the gun-show loophole was in addition to the longstanding requirement for background checks for purchases from licensed gun dealers.”

The ballot measure required both the buyer and seller to appear before a federally licensed firearms dealer to request a background check. The aim was to keep guns from felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill, according to the measure’s backers.” [BNS]

Now add an uncooperative Attorney General:

“Adam Laxalt, the state’s Republican attorney general, concluded in December that the measure was unenforceable, citing the FBI letter. Laxalt had opposed the requirement, and his campaign manager, Robert Uithoven, led NRA Nevadans for Freedom, the political action committee that opposed the measure.”   [BNS]

And while the Attorney General digs his heels into the NRA’s topsoil:

“The FBI has said Nevada is already a full “point of contact” state that uses the federal NICS system and a state central repository that also has mental health records, domestic violence incidents, misdemeanor criminal records, arrest reports and restraining orders.

In his letter, Ferrario writes the issue “can and should be easily resolved” with a dual system that would use the federal NICS system for private sales.

The governor’s spokeswoman said Nevada background checks for retail gun sales are “more comprehensive and thorough” than FBI checks.” [LVRJ]

It doesn’t take much more than this sorry impasse to conclude that Nevada’s leadership is intent on finding ways NOT to enforce the election results — when those results don’t comport with the desires of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the NRA, and the gun manufacturers.

In short, Nevada could reduce the lethality of suicides by firearms, but without a waiting period the odds of a fatal event increase for those disturbed individuals in the immediate and short term classifications.  We probably won’t.

Nevada could do what the voters directed in terms of background checks, but the muddlers will probably cry out that this wouldn’t have prevented the carnage at the Las Vegas music festival, so what’s the use?   So, this procrastination will likely continue.

However, as noted in the op-ed above, what’s different now is that people are, indeed, catching on.  After mentally ill individuals shot up an elementary school and a movie theater, after a maladjusted pair shot up an office Christmas party, after other poorly adjusted misfits shot up two college campuses, after a mentally unfit individual shot up a Planned Parenthood Clinic, after a white supremacist shot up a Bible Study session, after another mentally maladjusted person shot up an IHOP restaurant, and after a gambler with major issues shot up a music concert….  Yes, maybe we’re catching on.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada politics, Politics

Aw Shucks Amodei’s Amazing Little Interview

Mark Amodei (R) is the Representative for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.  This afternoon he had a little moment in the spotlight during an interview with Velshi and Rhule on MSNBC.  It was one of his better “aw shucks” moments, complete with eye closings and head bobbing, incomplete in terms of any rationality beyond the NRA talking points.  This isn’t surprising given the $43,265 Rep. Amodei has gathered from gun rights organizations (NRA, Safari International) over his career.

His first deflection from the presenters’ inquiries incorporated the Perfect Solution canard, i.e. “If a problem needs to be addressed…” implying that legislation is not capable of solving specific shooting tragedies. If a proposition doesn’t perfectly address the elements of a particular crime, then it is not worthy of consideration. This line is so old it should be eligible for a reverse mortgage.

Deflection number two came as Amodei squirmed away from addressing common sense regulation by adopting the Bank Robbers Protection Argument — the shooter was not one “to be deterred by additional regulation.”  This is simply a veneer over the contention that felons don’t follow the laws therefore laws are useless.  Again, we don’t often adopt this philosophy about criminal behavior,  which we hope to proscribe, as in assault, battery, robbery, arson, and murder.

The third deflection, the interview was almost one continuing deflection, occurred with the predictable “we need more facts.”  Yes, the investigation is underway, and in some areas has barely started.  However,  Amodei “hoped” we’d find out “how many weapons were purchased in what period of time.”  If you are wondering why this is relevant, you aren’t alone.  The salient facts are — a man, using high powered modified guns, killed 59 people and injured over 500 others.  It is perfectly possible to begin discussions prior to the full completion of the police investigation.

It didn’t take Rep. Amodei long to reach deflection four — “it’s too soon” (to be discussing common sense gun regulation) and at this point Rep. Amodei appeared to be making up his own vocabulary saying we need to “de-emotionalize” the issue.  Translation: We (the NRA and I) don’t want to talk about gun controls of any kind and it will always be either too soon or too late to discuss the issues and proposed solutions.

At this point in the interview Rep. Amodei, head bobbing, eye blinking and aw shucks mannerisms in full, returned to his prior motifs — “we need more information,” “felons don’t care…”, and “how would legislation have stopped…”

When pressed about the modification of rifles (video) to automatic operations Rep. Amodei reverted to more aw shucks repetitions, needing to know “how legislation would have stopped (the slaughter).”  The presenters gave up trying to make the Representative explain how allowing the sale of kits to make legal guns illegal made even the most remote amount of sense.  The interview terminated with formulaic thanks, and Rep. Amodei’s obvious relief.

It would be a relief to northern Nevada residents to have a Representative in Congress who understands rifle modification, and who comprehends the parched and desiccated nature of the old NRA arguments against doing anything that might mitigate the next tragedies.

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Filed under Amodei, Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Las Vegas in the Mourning

Las Vegas, NV has many nicknames, a few pejorative, most more amusing and fun. It’s an entire city for fun. The local economy is mostly based on games, amusements, gaming (we don’t often call it gambling), and recreation.  Las Vegas will sing, dance, spin, deal, and cater to you.  It will stay open all night for you, then offer you a buffet breakfast in the morning.  It will welcome you.  Last night it showed it will spare no effort to keep you safe.

It’s police officers will direct concert goers to safety during a hail of gun fire. It’s officers will locate, and subdue a shooter, within moments. It’s hospitals will provide medical assistance and services second to none.

And, it will graciously accept your prayers and condolences for the heinous attack by a lone wolf (which usually means white) shooter lodged at the Mandalay Bay attacking concert goers across the street.

I’m simply wondering when, if ever, some of those who are offering those kind phrases will pair them with action, as is advised in James 1:23-25: “For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass…”

Are there really any questions how a person amassed a small arsenal in a state with few regulations on gun ownership?  Are there really any questions about how many rounds he fired off in a state that doesn’t limit the purchase of ammunition, or high capacity magazines?  Are there actually any questions concerning the origins of yet another mass casualty incident in a country wherein the Congress is discussing legislation to allow the general purchase of silencers?  Was the disciple merely babbling when he wrote: “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” [James 2:20]

There was fully automatic fire from an elevated position.”   Yes, condolences are in order. They are appropriate for the family members of those slain in this act of violence. They are appropriate for the Las Vegas law enforcement personnel who lost one of their own, an off duty officer out for an evening concert.  They are appropriate for families dealing with an injured loved one.  However, the prayer half of the equation is, as the disciple said, empty without action.

But, we didn’t act after the tragedy at Virginia Tech, nor after the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, not in the wake of the San Ysidro shooting, not after the tragic loss of life at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. [CNN]  What can we conclude other than we are people who look at ourselves in a polished glass, without seeing our natural face?

When will we pair our prayers with our actions?

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Profiles in Cowardice: GOP Soft on Terrorism

Gun Congress I should have known, given that Senator Dean Heller’s last campaign material came from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, that he’d cave to NRA radicals on the following bit of legislation: S.Amdt. 2910 to S.Amdt. 2874 to H.R. 3762

All those links refer eventually to a simple amendment —

“To increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.” {Sen}

And, how did the junior Senator from Nevada cast his vote?  Here’s the roster from vote # 319 —

Heller Terrorist Vote 319That’s right – all those “Nay” votes were to prevent the Department of Justice from refusing to approve gun sales to those on the Terrorist Watch List.  In other words, spoken so often in the last 48 hours, Senator Heller doesn’t want terrorists flying but he evidently has no problems allowing them to waltz into a gun store and loading up on – say,  “1600 rounds of ammunition, another 4,500 rounds ‘at home,’ two assault rifles and two semi-automatic handguns.” [ABC]   

“Senators will need to decide where they stand. Or do they stand with the NRA?” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday, declaring that the Senate had been “complicit through our inaction” in the 355 mass shootings that have taken place in the United States since the start of the year. “Those who choose to do the NRA’s bidding will be held accountable by our constituents.” [WaPo]

That pretty well sums it up.

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Nevada’s Unfortunate Export

Guns In the last published annual report from the Nevada Department of Corrections FY 2013 (pdf) we discover that 24.87% of the men admitted into the Nevada prison system were being incarcerated for drug related offenses. Property crimes accounted for 24.24% of the admissions, sex crimes for 7.91%, and crimes of violence 36.79%.  DUIs and “other” accounted for approximately 6.2%.  Various trafficking crimes are included in Category A and Category B felony provisions in Nevada. 

A person can get into major trouble under Nevada law, as in Category A felony categorization territory, for trafficking in Schedule I drugs (28 grams or more) or trafficking in Schedule II drugs (400 grams).  Trafficking in persons is covered in Category B felonies, carrying penalties of from 1 to 20 years.  Sex trafficking can yield sentences between 3 to 20 years, with no probation or suspended sentences if the conviction involves a child.  What kind of trafficking won’t get a person into the Nevada prison system?

Gun trafficking.   Nevada does have some statutes pertaining to the transfer and sale of firearms. NRS 202.310 does provide that: “Any person in this state who sells or barters to a child who is under the age of 18 years, with reckless disregard of whether the child is under the age of 18 years, or with knowledge or reason to know that the child is under the age of 18 years, a pistol, revolver or a firearm capable of being concealed upon the person is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.”  We might want to come back to this provision sometime to discuss what constitutes “recklessness” in this instance, but for now it’s enough to know that it is unlawful to sell a gun to someone under the age of 18 without parental supervision.  There are other classifications of persons to whom firearms shall not be sold in this state.

NRS 202.362  Sale or disposal of firearm or ammunition to certain persons prohibited; penalty; exceptions. 1.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, a person within this State shall not sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to another person if he or she has actual knowledge that the other person:  (a) Is under indictment for, or has been convicted of, a felony in this or any other state, or in any political subdivision thereof, or of a felony in violation of the laws of the United States of America, unless the other person has received a pardon and the pardon does not restrict his or her right to bear arms;  (b) Is a fugitive from justice;  (c) Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility; or (d) Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.  2.  A person who violates the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000. (emphasis added)

The requirement that the seller have “actual knowledge” of a person’s status with regard to a gun sale, obviously the “knowledge” of a seller is diminished by the fact that Nevada doesn’t require universal background checks, but the “actual” knowledge is further restrained by the fact that Nevada applies no penalties to those who lie in order to purchase guns.  Washington, Oregon, and California have criminal penalties for “buying a gun  using false information,” Nevada does not. [TTG] [Wash. 9.41.113] [Oregon 116.470] [AG CA pdf]

Indeed, Nevada has NO statutes which establish criminal penalties for buying a gun on behalf of someone who may not legally purchase one otherwise;  as seen above, the individual who buys the gun may be prosecuted but not the seller.  Nevada has NO statute(s) preventing someone from selling a firearm to some buyer who has a record of serious misdemeanors – only felonies will do.  And, since Nevada has no universal background check law there are no criminal penalties for selling a firearm to someone without having made a proper background check.  The result of all this?

As of 2009, Nevada had the 9th highest rate of “crime gun exports” in the country.  making Nevada a “net exporter” of guns used in serious crimes in other states – 781 such guns were imported into Nevada and 808 were “exported” to other states.  [TTG]  But! 204 crime guns came from California. Yes, and California has a total population of 38,802,500 while Nevada has 2,839,099. [Census] We have 7% of California’s population and we’re doing more than our share of exporting weapons used in crimes.

Making gun trafficking even more likely is the simple fact that Nevada has no restrictions on the sales of multiple guns. [SGL]  We know the exportation of “crime guns” drops when restrictions are placed on multiple sales because it worked in Virginia between 1993 and 2012. During that period Virginia imposed its “one gun per month” rule, and the odds the gun was purchased in that state (as compared to other southeastern states) dropped by 71% of guns recovered in NY, 72% for guns recovered in Massachusetts, and 66% for guns recovered in NY, NJ, CT, RI, and MA combined. [SGL]

Nevada would be a much better neighbor if the next session of the State Legislature would give serious consideration to:

  • Imposing criminal penalties for buying firearms for individuals who are not legally allowed to possess them.
  • Imposing criminal penalties on those who seek to purchase firearms in this state who provide false information to the seller.
  • Requiring universal background checks for the sale of all handguns.
  • Imposing criminal penalties for those who deliberately sell firearms without conducting a background check on the purchaser.
  • Limiting the number of firearms which can be purchased in any single transaction.

Trafficking guns should at least carry some of the same penalties we apply to those entering our prison system convicted of drug and sex trafficking?

References: Department of Corrections, State of Nevada, “Annual Statistical Abstract” (pdf) FY 2013.  Category A felonies, NV Legislature, (pdf), Category B felonies, NV Legislature, (pdf); Category C felonies, NV Legislature (pdf); Category D felonies, NV Legislature, (pdf); Category E felonies, NV Legislature (pdf); Nevada Revised Statutes 202;  Office of the Attorney General, State of California, “California Firearms Laws Summary,” (pdf);  Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Multiple Purchases, Sales of Firearms Policy;”

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Armed and Dangerous or Unarmed and Disingenuous?

Guns If only the advocates of gun proliferation were as well armed logically as they are with cop-killer ammunition and magazines with 30 rounds?  Some of the arguments have become tiresome, others tedious, and most specious or spurious.

There are altogether too many categories of gun violence incidents in this country to make any definitive pronouncement about the specific nature or that violence or to state with any assurance that one type of legislation will address the incidents in their totality.  And, the proliferation advocates have used this concept as a platform for renouncing all responsibility for controlling the violence.  “This” would not have prevented “that,” they say, countering that universal background checks would not have prevented Incident X.  Or safe storage laws will not prevent work place gun attacks. Or mental health checks would not have prevented a specific hate crime. And, so it goes.   What is disarming our discussion and make our civic discourse disingenuous is the lack of a larger framework.

Is gun violence a function of (1) social displacement or discomfort; (2) poorly developed social skills, including conflict resolution; and/or (3) a combination thereof?

What is it about the “gun culture” which makes the manufacturer oriented message of the NRA so attractive to some people?  Here’s one explanation:

“The gun rights platform is not just about guns. It’s also about a crisis of confidence in the American dream. And this is one reason gun control efforts ignite such intense backlashes: Restrictions are received as a personal affront to men who find in guns a sense of duty, relevance and even dignity.” [LATimes]

Let’s separate the crisis of confidence from the American dream portion for a moment.  It certainly makes sense that those who feel their economic security slipping away, or who feel a disquieting sense of futility about making their lives better, would feel an attachment to a powerful weapon that makes them feel more masculine, relevant, and empowered. However, this seems a highly personal matter.  For all those in the Rust Belt portions of the country who’ve watched manufacturing jobs disappear, and those who are subsequently trapped in the morass of low paying part time employment, who use the gun as an emotional crutch, there are others who don’t.  In fact, the statistics tell us that in 1977 54% of American households contained a gun, while in 2014 that percentage dropped to 32%. [WaPo] There are more guns being sold, but to those who seem to be stockpiling them. [CNN]

These statistics don’t refute the argument that guns make the insecure feel better, however they might indicate that those who do use the guns as social/emotional support are procuring more of them.

Too Close To Home?

However, gun ownership isn’t necessarily an index of the levels of gun violence.   It does inform studies of fatal incidents of domestic violence.  The Wintemute Study in 2003 found that “females living with a gun in the home were nearly 3 times more likely to victimized at home than in any other place.”  The Grassel Study (2003) also found that “women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide.” [VPC]

That “protective effect” is asserted by handgun purchasers who have bought guns to feel more secure in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities.  But once again we are missing some crucial information?  While our attention is directed at stranger perpetrated violence in movie theaters and other public spaces, most mass shootings are domestic.

“We found that in 57 percent of mass shootings, the shooter targeted either a family member or an intimate partner. According to HuffPost’s analysis, 64 percent of mass shooting victims were women and children. That’s startling, since women typically make up only 15 percent of total gun violence homicide victims, and children only 7 percent.” [HuffPo]

And the statistics go a step further toward explaining why the “protective effect” is illusory in domestic situations: “If a domestic abuser has a gun the victim is 8 times more likely to be killed.” [HuffPo/NCBI]  If a gun purchaser believes that the ownership of a firearm will make his family more secure, as do about 60% of Americans, then that 6 out of 10 hasn’t been paying attention to other numbers.

“For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.” [MJ]

What self-respecting person would want to protect his family by making the members more statistically likely to suffer homicide, suicide, or accidental death?  Total gun ownership doesn’t necessarily mean that the people who are supposed to be protected by the guns actually will be.  It may mean that there are a declining number of households in this country which are now at a statistically greater risk of fatal violence?

There’s good and bad news in terms of workplace violence as well. The good news is that from 2002 to 2009 the rate of nonfatal workplace violence declined by 35%, and that after a 62% decline in the rate from 1993 to 2002. The bad part is that between 2005 and 2009 while firearms were used in only 5% of the nonfatal workplace violence incidents, shootings accounted for 80% of workplace homicides. [BJS pdf] If nothing more, the numbers support the assertion that guns do, in fact, kill people. 

Who’s taking it personally?

Duty, relevance, and dignity may be the rationale for some gun owners, but their cohort may have other ideas?

“A June 2015 study found that “310 million firearms estimated to be in private hands in the United States are disproportionately owned by people who are prone to angry, impulsive behavior and have a potentially dangerous habit of keeping their guns close at hand.” There is a “co-occurrence of impulsive angry behavior and possessing or carrying a gun among adults with and without certain mental disorders and demographic characteristics.”

Almost 9% of people who “self-report patterns of impulsive angry behavior” also have a firearm at home, and 1.5% (or nearly 85 people out of 5,653 surveyed for this study) carry their guns in places other than their home. The authors found that, when studying violence and anger, it is more effective to look at the arrest history of individuals rather than seeing if they have a mental illness. Arrests could show “a history of impulsive or angry behavior (for example, criminal records of misdemeanor violence, DWIs and domestic violence restraining orders),” which “would likely serve as a more feasible and less discriminatory indicator of an individual’s gun violence risk.”  [CSGV]

We might also conclude that some of those who express a wish to be more dutiful in protecting their families – by firearms, more relevant, and more “dignified,” may also be some of the people who are more angry, impulsive, and potentially dangerous?

And then there’s the racism angle…

This is the uncomfortable topic in modern American life, but it is no less a function of gun sales, gun ownership, and gun culture – we ignore it at our peril:

“Those with racist views are more likely to oppose gun reform. In an October 2013 study, Kerry O’Brien, Walter Forrest, Dermot Lynott and Michael Daly concluded that “Symbolic racism [is] related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in U.S. whites.” The study defined symbolic racism as “racial resentment…an explicit but subtle form and measure of racism.” While the reasons for owning guns and being opposed to gun violence prevention legislation vary and are complex, “it has been suggested that sociocultural factors such as fear of black violence may be associated with gun ownership, and with opposition to gun controls.”

Professors Benforado and Young also supported this statement in their respective works. In his 2010 study, Benforado writes, “Advances in implicit social cognition reveal that most people carry biases against racial minorities beyond their conscious awareness. These biases affect critical behavior, including the actions of individuals performing shooting tasks. In simulations, Americans are faster and more accurate when firing on armed blacks than when firing on armed whites, and faster and more accurate in electing to hold their fire when confronting unarmed whites than when confronting unarmed blacks.”

Similarly, in his 1985 study, Young writes, “The ownership of firearms for protection is influenced by the interaction of racial prejudice and perceptions of crime and crime fighters. Moreover, the impact of prejudice is sufficiently strong that the mere physical proximity of a relatively large black population is enough to increase gun ownership among highly prejudiced men, even in the absence of concerns about crime.”

Discomforting as this may be, the “average” gun owner in America is white, married or divorced, relatively high income, and over 55. [CSGV]  Those armed with sufficient information from scientific studies can conclude that gun regulation efforts will be opposed by mostly white males over 55 years of age who promote a gun culture agenda which actually makes this country (and its women and children) less safe than if guns were not proliferating.

The facts have been out since forever – and facts aren’t going to move the debate in radical segments such as those who believe that any restriction on guns is a violation of their Constitutional rights, that any regulation of gun purchases is an act of Fascism, that any diminution of gun ownership is an indication of a loss of personal freedom.  Combine prejudice, bias, insecurity, and anger and we get the most vocal of the anti-regulation voices.  Unfortunately, these voices are getting equal face time in the media for their essentially minority view of common sense gun regulation in a society that has yet to acknowledge that guns are NOT a device for conflict resolution.

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