Tag Archives: guns

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

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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Filed under Gun Issues, Heller, terrorism

GOP Far Away Land: Solutions in Search of Problems

Alien Planet guns

It’s like they live on another planet.  Republican legislators in Carson City appear to be marching to the same off beat drum kit as their Washington, D.C. counterparts.  Have problems with infrastructure? Education? Revenue? Income inequality? Unemployment? The solution is (staccato drum roll) Pass more laws on abortion! Allow more guns everywhere!

The Single Song Sallies of the Nevada GOP are absorbed by these two.  Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-NV backwater) proposes the following:

“AN ACT relating to abortions; revising provisions regulating an abortion performed on a pregnant woman who is a minor or a ward; requiring notification of a parent or guardian under certain circumstances before a physician performs such an abortion; providing expedited procedures for petitioning a court for judicial authorization to proceed without such notification; providing civil liabilities and criminal penalties; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

How this bit of anti-choice legislation addresses employment, economic diversification, educational funding, transportation, infrastructure, local government resources, provisions for mental health services, or any other major issue facing the state is pure conjecture.  The nationwide abortion rate among those under 15 years of age is negligible for the period 1990 to 2007, and abortions for those aged 15 to 18 years has declined from 21,800 in 1990 to 16,200 as of 2007. [CensusCDC]  This decline mirrors the overall decline in teen pregnancies, which in turn is linked to economic considerations, more contraceptives, and more information (read: sex education). [Pew] However, Big Daddy Government Types exemplified by Assemblyman Hansen, won’t be satisfied until every woman has to carry every man’s fetus to term.  And for this, time is being taken from taxation and budget consideration in the Assembled Wisdom.

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Michele “Take Baking Soda for your Cancer” Fiore (R-NRA) would be happy to attach her Guns Galore amendment to any bit of legislation she can find. [LVRJ]  She lost the vote, 24-18 in the Assembly, but she’ll be back before the end of the session on June 1. [LTN]

What makes coping with single issue ideologues like Hansen and Fiore so frustrating is that Nevada does have some serious issues which need to be addressed.  Education, which was supposed to be the central feature of this legislative session, has some problems. For instance, Nevada schools ranked 50th in “overall state grades,” and 36th in K-12 achievement, 45th in standards and assessments, and 46th in school finance. [leg.state.nv]  The American Society of Civil Engineering grades Nevada a C- in infrastructure.  We “earned” a D+ in dams, and we have 36 bridges which are deemed “structurally deficient.”  The Mental Health Association reports the following in regard to Nevada’s mental health services: “The five states with the highest prevalence of mental illness and the lowest rates of access to care were Louisiana (47), Washington (48), Nevada (49), Mississippi (50) and Arizona (51).”

Speaking to the income inequality issue, Nevada’s not in a very good position in that regard either:  “The states in which all income growth between 2009 and 2012 accrued to the top 1 percent include Delaware, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington, Louisiana, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, Rhode Island, and Nevada.”

Now, can we please talk about something other than government so small it can fit inside every vagina, and guns galore?

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Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Mental Health, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

The Price Tag Plus $32: The economic cost of guns in America

Guns $32.00 – according to the author of a NIJ study on gun fire casualties that’s the direct societal cost per gun in the United States.   When the costs for drunk driving and gun related injuries were compared in 1994 the drunk driving costs were characterized as substantially higher.  Now that has reversed.  In 1992 medical care for a fatal shooting averaged $14,500. By 2010 the number was $28,700. [USAT]  More recent figures put the annual cost to American society at $214 billion, or $693 per person. [LeadersEdge] Where does this number come from?

“…societal cost figure includes medical costs incurred from firearms violence and the lost earnings of the victims—either the survivors of a firearms injury or costs to loved ones left behind in case of a fatal shooting. And it includes an estimated $11.9 billion in costs to government for such things as Medicare and Medicaid payments to victims. It also includes $1.5 billion in medical and mental health treatment, public services, adjudication, sanctioning and productivity losses for the perpetrator.”  [LEdge]

On the other side of the ledger, the firearms industry supports about 120,310 jobs in “supplier and ancillary industries,” and the manufacture and sale of firearms generates $33.3 billion to the economy.  This would include $10.4 billion in wages, $4.6 billion in federal and state business taxes, $460 million in excise taxes, and about $2.1 billion in federal and state taxes paid by the firearms industry and its employees.  [LE NSSF]  In short, we’re losing about $180.7 billion on this deal?

Other elements not under discussion are the secondary effects of gun violence, such as the loss of real estate value in neighborhoods which experience high levels of gun fatalities and injuries.  Nor are we taking into economic consideration the unwillingness of commercial and manufacturing firms to expand or site operations in neighborhoods which have high gun violence numbers.

Every instance of a gun related accident or homicide adds to the economic costs of relatively unregulated firearms in American society.  The logic is fairly simple:

“We have supported research for more than 20 years to better understand the problems of gun violence, the risk factors of gun violence and the policies that can prevent it,” says Nina Vinik, the gun violence prevention program director for the Joyce Foundation in Chicago. “One thing consistent in the research over the decades is the finding that where guns are more available, more readily accessible, there is a corresponding increase in levels of gun violence and injuries, in homicides, in suicides and in accidents.” [LEdge]

Arguments about the United States being a “violent society” stray from the essential point – it’s not that we’re necessarily more criminally inclined, but that the easy availability of firearms tends to make our adventures with guns more lethal – and more expensive. [HarvardMag]

Another point, about which we probably ought to be having more conversation is that the proliferation of firearms in this country is costing us more than their economic value in the total economy.  Capitalism works – but only if the market decisions made are rational.

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Filed under Economy, Gun Issues

Wants, Needs, and Pink Assault Rifles

pink AR 15One of the most basic lessons in economic education is the differentiation between Wants and Needs.  It usually shows up somewhere in the K-3 part of the curriculum.   The most basic expression comes as: “Needs are something you must have for survival.  For example, food and water.  Without food, you would not be able to live.  Wants are something that you would like to have, but it is not necessary, and you could do without it. ”   We have to be careful with this one in a consumer based economy because honestly there are lots of things we don’t need…as in most of the stuff being marketed to us.

However, for all the palaver expended on marketing, the fundamental concepts are simple: (1) Target the “right” market, identifying potential customers; (2) Provide “bait,” which can range from something like offering a Two For One sale or as complex as the psychologically based, focus group tested, campaign to sell luxury cars; (3) Utilizing appropriate media to get the message out.  For all the variations, the message is always the same — I’m selling something and I want you to buy it.

So, what can we learn about gun owners — or potential customers for more guns — from the statistics at hand?

If I were selling guns, I’d notice that 42% of Americans own at least one firearm, and of that 42% about 48% are male, and 57% of those males are Republicans.  Were I looking to expand my sales, I’d pay attention to the fact that only approximately 37% of women are firearm owners.

I’d notice that 55% of white Republicans are gun owners, and in the midwest and south Republicans comprise 62% and 56% respectively of firearm owners.  In terms of population density, it’s relevant to observe that 60% of rural Americans own guns, 42% of suburbanites are owners, and urban gun owners make up 30% of the total.   Age is often a marketing guide, so we’d want to note that individuals aged 18-29 have a 34% gun ownership rate, those aged 30-44 have a 42% rate, those people aged 45-65 have a 45% rate, and those over 65 have a 44% rate of gun ownership.   If we’re looking at trends by political affiliation the chart would look like the following:

gun trends party

From a marketing perspective, there is more of a potential market among women, independents, and Democrats — but there are also those declivitous slopes in their purchasing patterns.  This lends credence to the conclusion that “The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s, according to the survey data, analyzed by The New York Times.” [NYT]  In turn, we come to another conclusion — there are more guns in fewer households.

Repeating an oft cited economic rule of life — If your business has an increasing share in a declining market You Are In Trouble.

One factor in the declining overall market is urbanization — those who might have owned firearms for hunting, predatory problems, and personal safety in rural areas find less compelling reasons for gun ownership in urban areas.   Hunting sports are trending downward as well, “only a quarter of men in 2012 said they hunted, compared with about 40 percent when the question was asked in 1977.” [NYT]  The aging of America may have some relationship to this as well; hunting is hard physical labor, and those over 70 may not find the activity as enjoyable as it was on 35 year old legs.

Thus, gun manufacturers are faced with some serious marketing issues.  Ownership trends in statistical terms, (not in anecdotal references to people who sign up for safety classes, or who make purchases of new models), are down.  Urbanization is increasing.  Women, less likely to buy a weapon, are 50.8% of the population.  Hispanic Americans, also less likely gun owners, are 16.7% of the population and increasing.  [Census]  How can gun manufacturers profit, if they can’t buck the trends in which (1) a gun is less likely to be considered a “need” and more likely in expanding  urban/suburban settings as a “want?”  Or, if the population trends are such that those elements (women, Hispanic Americans) who are less likely to own guns are increasing in the overall count?  In marketing, not shooting sport terms, — where are the targets?

Here’s one marketing ploy:

“A pink AR-15 will rock their world.  I don’t care if they are welcomed on unwelcome visitor, everyone will respect your choice in weaponry.  House guests love the look of your pink pink AR-15, and the bad guys will either bleed or run like hell.  Wolverine Tactical Firearms utilize a Duracoat finish for their pink AR-15, and the ceramic coating is both durable and attractive.  Yes we do purple as well.” [BTD.com]

The seller goes on to assure the potential buyer than a rifleman doesn’t have to explain why he or she would own a pink or purple AR-15 — the 2nd Amendment covers all that….  This assumes that one’s house guests are also shooting enthusiasts who won’t ask WHY you have a pink assault rifle.  So, how many middle-western or southern white males aged 34-65 are going to drive to the gun shop for a pink AR-15?  Or how many of their wives are likely to think this would be the sweetest Valentine’s Day present ever?  The marketing answer to these questions may very well be Not Enough to make these products (1) answer a felt “want” in an expanding market, (2) create enough demand to justify the expenditure of complex marketing research and subsequent campaigns, and (3) get a return on advertising investments anywhere near the tipping point.

If we’re looking for a reason why the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association is putting up a frontal assault of its own against any and all gun safety and violence abatement legislation — we might well consider the marketing problems they are facing in this country.  Certainly, in light of the pink AR-15, they are.

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Nevada Senators adopt Yosemite Sam Philosophy on Concealed Carry Permits

Yosemite Sam 2S.B. 137  gets its hearing today in the Nevada Legislature, in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The measure sponsored by state Senate Republicans Goicoechea, Settelmeyer,  and Cegavske, would revise and ease restrictions on concealed carry permits for firearms.  Let’s assume, for the moment, that the arguments in favor of this legislation make the following points:

#1. We’d all be safer if we were all armed.   We simply want rights for law abiding citizens who want to protect themselves.  The self-protection argument runs into difficulty at the moment any dispute escalates into an armed confrontation [NYT], and the very small number of instances in which a potential victim of an assault or robbery “fought back” isn’t sufficient to extrapolate into any kind of broad generalization (much less substantiate causality) about the efficacy of arming for self defense. [ncjrs]  The “law abiding” part is also problematic.

North Carolina liberalized its carry provisions only to find that 2,400 of its permit holders had been convicted of felonies or misdemeanors over the previous five year period. Not surprisingly, a permit holder with a history of depression, alcoholism, and suicide attempts committed a murder in the course of a bar fight.  [NYT]  Of course, it’s not illegal to suffer from major depression, or illegal to be an alcoholic, which raises the question: How are permits to be allocated to “law abiding citizens?”  And, more essentially, “Who’s law abiding?

Is a person with a current restraining order “law abiding?”  [NYT]

“In statehouses across the country, though, the N.R.A. and other gun-rights groups have beaten back legislation mandating the surrender of firearms in domestic violence situations. They argue that gun ownership, as a fundamental constitutional right, should not be stripped away for anything less serious than a felony conviction — and certainly not, as an N.R.A. lobbyist in Washington State put it to legislators, for the “mere issuance of court orders.” [NYT]

Is that “mere issuance” of court orders sufficient to determine a person’s status as “law abiding?”  Or, does the imminent threat of domestic violence preclude a person’s inclusion in this category?  (More on this a bit later.)

#2.  If citizens had been carrying their own firearms __________ might have been avoided.   This requires some imagination; imagination of the type commonly associated with adolescent males who fantasize about What I Would Have Done; which, in turn, almost invariably reverts into a scripted entertainment piece wherein ‘they’ come out guns blazing and rescue the Fair Maiden In Distress.   The historical examples are less ethereal.

Joe Zamudio helped subdue the gunman in the shooting of former Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona, he was armed.  However, when the details of his story are acknowledged the report doesn’t square with the fantasy scenario.  Zamudio first mistook another person trying to disarm the shooter as the killer; and, secondly didn’t want to fire for fear of being mistaken himself as the perpetrator.  Zamudio came within seconds of killing not only an innocent man, but a man trying to disarm and restrain the real killer. [Slate]

Consider the reality of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre.  How much more difficult the situation could have been for law enforcement responding to the scene if several people in a darkened theater had opened fire?  That more victims could have been caught in cross-fire is far more plausible than any illusion of heroics in ‘battle.’

#3. The mere presence of a firearm is enough to deter some violent crime.  Criminals will think twice before committing a felony on an armed person.   That depends. Not to put too much faith in combining the words ‘criminal’ and ‘intelligence,’ in the same sentence too often, but if a potential felon has already pulled out a weapon and clicked the safety off then how does a holstered pistol or revolver with the safety on deter the felonious one?  Or, by the lights of the gun enthusiasts do we all go about armed with the firearms unholstered, and with the safeties off?

And, we return to the domestic violence scene and to some disturbing statistics from the Washington State 2012 report in which of all the 549 fatal domestic violence incidents since 1997 55%  have involved firearms.   Again, the question of the protection of law abiding citizen categorization arises:  If we are not convinced that a person upon whom a restraining order has been issued is securely included in the law abiding category, then are we in jeopardy of creating more violence by easing the restrictions on concealed carry permits which might be issued to these people?

Until we have amassed and analyzed more data on the implications of categorizing people as “law abiding” gun owners who have personal histories of violence, mental illness, or domestic issues; SB 137 is a premature offering to the gun enthusiasts and the manufacturers of their firearms.

Until we have thoroughly deliberated the actual use of firearms in defense of persons or property, and appraised the real instances in comparison to situations in which the lack of a firearm helped to de-escalate a situation, SB 137 is simply another gesture of support for the gun manufacturers who want to sell as many of their products to as many people as they can scare into buying them.

This is NOT a bill which should emerge from the Nevada Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.

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