Archive for the ‘gun control’ tag
Forgive me for being frank, but after all that’s happened in the last 10 years, it really takes some massive balls or abject stupidity or both to continue to defend the proliferation of semiautomatic and automatic weapons in civil society.
None are bigger than Lindsey Graham’s:
He also tweeted this:
Six bullets in the hands of a mother protecting her twin 9-year-olds may not be enough.— Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) January 30, 2013
Where to begin with this logic? In Graham’s scenario, a mother is faced with protecting her kids against two intruders. He claims that six bullets might not be enough to fend off the bad guys, so she might need more fire power. Why not gun like an AK-47 or AR-15?
Am I an unreasonable person for saying that in that situation, the 15-round magazine makes sense?
Yes, and not only unreasonably, but a danger to the constituents you serve. You’re telling us that an untrained mother is going to start a firestorm either inside her own home or on her lawn with a semiautomatic weapon and be able to succeed by herself against two armed men a la some kind of female Jack Bauer? You’re telling us she’s going to be able to aim, compensate for the recoil and in a frenzied few seconds have the wherewithal to surgically gun down the perps? Hell, she’s just as likely to shoot her own kids in the crossfire. And if the number of bullets in a pistol is a concern, what’s stopping a parent from keeping two or three clips locked away with the gun just in case.
I mean the excuses and the irrational hoops these people are willing to jump through to defend guns of war around families and young children is not only contemptible but about as psychotic as the crazies behind Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.
Now, I’m not a big control control guy, but a recent comment on Facebook about gun rights went too far. Sadly, I’m sure this was not an isolated case. Via the Daily Kos:
Its been less than 12 hours since the tragedy in Aurora, CO. Amid the expressions of hope for the victims and their families and the sorrow over their losses that has filled my Facebook this morning, I saw this:
Ugh, this Colorado thing makes me sick…just awful..too bad no one else was armed and could defend themselves..such a tragedy.
As I said, I’m not a gun control nut, and I think something can be said for responsible ownership. Neither do I take the stance that we should eradicate all guns everywhere and in all circumstances except in police departments. Some of my progressive friends will disagree mightily with me here, but if there were no guns, psychopaths and other mentality unbalanced people would still find other means to carry out their actions. The important point is not about the means or method but the will and/or desire to wreak havoc on society. Hell, death by gunshot is a rather “clean” way to go compared to other means by which a person can kill (stabbing, bombing, arson, drowning, choking, etc.). That said, I tend to agree with the Daily Kos writer, who more or less shares my view on gun control:
Look, I’m an RKBA kind of guy. I have no problem with responsible ownership of firearms. I have, perhaps, a stance that may be more centrist on this than my liberal friends and family. On the other hand, I was a Marine for 4 years. I know how to responsibly keep, maintain, and use a firearm. I know the power that it has and the proper circumstances under which it should be utilized.
However, what drives me up the wall are people that I term, “gun fetishists,” that seem to think that the mere presence of an armed populace will deter violent crime, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. People who make the quote above.
Allow me to inject some reality into the discussion: Going to the gun range and knowing all the firearm safety rules are a far, FAR cry from being able to use a deadly weapon in a chaotic situation with very limited viability, high collateral damage potential, and no tactical awareness. In a darkened, crowded theater, the potential to cause more harm than good goes up exponentially. The average police officer doesn’t even train to be able to handle that type of situation alone… that’s what highly trained specialists using highly specialized equipment are for. The aggressor, after all, doesn’t care who he hits, because he’s targeting everyone. A basically trained person with a firearm taking him down without killing or injuring any of the hundreds of people around you is stuff that happens in the movies not in real life.
Bottom line: the likelihood of us waking up to even more horrific news because someone in the crowd was armed and decided to take the shooter on is far greater than us waking up to a story of a hero who defended a theater. Sometimes the idealized fantasy we wish for, if attempted to be put into practice, leads to a more horrific tragedy.
A friend of mine today brought to my attention a recent debate she was having with an acquaintance about gun control (I wrote about the issue some here) who said he had a handgun in nearly every room of his house and, I kid you not, “when I grill out, I have a pistol on the patio table.”
So, when it’s time to cook up some steaks, is he taking out the meat, cooking utensils, A-1 sauce and bringing out the pistol as well? How about a relaxing summer evening on the porch? Is he packing then too? Not too relaxing, I imagine. I commented to my friend that I hope this person doesn’t have any unattended children in any of those rooms with the guns or on the patio.
Let me first get something out of the way. I enjoy shooting guns. For leisure at shooting ranges. Rifles, pistols, old-time, powder-loaded handguns, whatever. But that’s at a shooting facility. The home is not a shooting facility, and I don’t necessarily sign up for the philosophy that says residential folks might as well be packing just in case some robber suddenly turns up and they can fling out their sidearm as needed. I suppose I, and many others who don’t have guns in their houses, are hedging their bets, hoping the worse never happens, but in my case, and many others, even with guns, there’s certainly no guarantee that I’m magically going to turn into Clint Eastwood and be able to quickly gun down some unwelcomed marauder. Moreover, the type of home is also important. It’s a single home with one person, a gun might be Ok if a young child is not present. In a family, however, the situation becomes more tenuous.
That said, neither do I think that erasing all guns from the streets or from homes will reduce or extinguish murder. If people get it in their minds that they are going to kill so or so or commit some other act, they will probabaly wield any weapon available to carry it out. If every single gun in the country were taken away (except for those in the hands of lawmen or military personnel), those who wanted to kill others would find another way. And as the case of Nidal Malik Hasan, just being a member of the U.S. Army doesn’t preclude you from being able to use a weapon to wreak havoc on others.
Here’s a graphic I found interesting. It’s a little dated, but probably still tells the tale. Note where the U.S. falls:
The right column shows “International Firearm Deaths by 100,000″ and the other statistic shows the percentage of households with firearms, and look which country is at the top of the heap, high above are more progressive neighbors across the pond.
Scoping the net tonight (late tonight) for something to write about, mostly for no other reason than the fact that I haven’t written in a few days, and I like to keep some level of consistency, I came across this guest column on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Web site about gun control. The gist of the story is that an autoshop owner, with a wife and two kids, was shot in the head over an $800 bill.
The writer was angry and remorseful over the man’s death and used it to briefly speak his mind on the need for more gun regulations, noting that
The only thing that could have saved George was the irrational man’s inability to access a gun.
But, we’re unwilling to address that issue, right? Because people kill people, not guns.
Well, if we’re unwilling to somehow curtail the development of irrational people with things like first-rate education and mental health services — which we’re clearly averse to — then we better address the guns. If not both, it has to be one. — AJC, Oct. 13, By Steve Reba
I want to be on board with his thoughts, I really do. Needless killing, with guns or knives or broad swords or cannon fire should never be Ok. But I do have a couple bones to pick with this argument, and frankly (I’ll go ahead and get it out of the way), I can’t say that I’m totally sold on the idea of gun control or ridding the country of guns altogether. My reasons are not moral or ethic, but purely logical.
To address the above statements from the writer, first, we have no way of knowing whether the shooter was rational or not. He, in fact, could have been quite a rational person in thinking he was being being ripped off. True, typically the unethical action of ripping a person off doesn’t license the “victim” to wield a Magnum and start shooting. The shooter could have been insane, or not. We don’t know. Mass murderers have often been quite calm and collected, in the case of Dennis Rader, aka BTK, of whom, after watching the chilling BTK Killer movie awhile back, I could make the case Radar was cool as a salamander as he violently binded, tortured and killed at least 10 women over about a 17-year stint in Kansas and then disposed of the ravaged bodies. One could say Radar was deranged and perverted, but as he carried on his charade (He was also a leader in his church) for such a long time, one could hardly call him irrational. He was smart and one step ahead of investigators nearly the entire way, meanwhile carrying on his “real life” as if he was as innocent as the candy man.
But back on point. I do agree with Reba’s tongue-in-cheek facetious-point: “people kill people, not guns.” If we magically took all the guns in the United States (and it would have to be by magic), we would not end violence in America. Killers half their weight in salt would find other ways to kill. We may hope to reduce the number of deaths initially by eliminating guns, but to say that atrocities like the death of a guy with a family wouldn’t take place in a world without guns misses an important point about human nature: we will never inhabit a world where desperation, irrationality, psychosis, dementia, revenge and evil do not exist (I use the last word as a blanket term for anything else that may motivate someone to kill). I suppose it would be possible to imagine a society that has evolved to some higher order where we have, by no small measure, eradicated the tendencies that cause people to kill or to want to kill, for instance, by increasing the scale and efficiency of education and increasing (by leaps and bounds) the standard of living in even the most slum-like neighborhoods. But these high notions are far, far into the future, farther away in America’s future, less far away in more progressive countries.
I cringe, and yes, cringed even today, upon seeing a “right to keep and bear arms” bumper sticker on the back window of some super-sized tank of a truck, likely owned by a hunter or gun nut who has no notion of the Second Amendment or the context in which it was written. For a detailed discussion of the amendment, see here. We must understand that the Second Amendment was ratified just 15 years after the country declared its independence from an invading country. At the onset, before Congress officially made Washington general of the army, a state militia, mostly Massachusetts’, was fighting against the British invaders. The right to keep a “well regulated Militia” was a very real and necessary concern in those days, as was likely the right of every man to possess a gun to protect his family, as there was, very real in most people’s memory, once an invading army just around the bend. The full force of Britain’s army, was, indeed, at one time, just five miles from John Adams’ homestead, and Abigail, indeed, kept one of John’s guns in easy reach in case the British cut through the state’s militia. So, both the personal right to possess a gun and the corporate, or state’s right to form a militia (I think I would read: the nation’s right) are probably intrinsic in the amendment.
Also, in one important sense, the “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” given the context of the words before, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” do suggest that “the people,” could mean, not each individual person (for it certainly says nothing of the sort), but the people as a whole of the state (nation).
The Supreme Court has ruled on the amendment, and I could elaborate further, but I suppose my grander point here is that we simply don’t know for sure what they meant by the “right to keep and bear arms.” If the full body of the Congress were before us today, maybe they could enlighten us on what they meant. But we don’t know for sure, and impassioned, to use the term here, “irrational,” voices on both sides of the issue of gun control gets us nowhere because they only add to the babble and cacaphony of polarization.
The larger point, I think, is that crime is not going to go away in a gun-free world, and we must succumb to this bitter fact: to erase guns is not to erase the will in some to kill or harm others. They will find other ways. We’re a very inventive species, and the last 200 years has told us that much. The irrationality and non-erudition on both sides, in my opinion, cancel each other out (and this can apply to other issues). The actual truth, as it does on so many questions, likely lies somewhere in the middle.
It’s disheartening that more GOP members overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus plan. They, of course, made it clear why they did it: not enough (or the right kind of) tax cuts, an “orgy” of spending, as Lindsey Graham dubbed it, etc etc. Despite President Obama’s numerous statements that he would like the bill to be a bipartisan effort, I think it was a rancor move by the GOP to so overwhelmingly vote against it, as if to say, “We can’t have it our way? Fine. We’ll take our cookies and go home.”
Republicans did have an alternative, which was John McCain’s $421 billion plan that focused more on cutting income and payroll taxes and less on spending. Critics like to rail that we shouldn’t just throw money at the problem and that the best way to fix some of our economic woes is to give more tax cuts to businesses, thus creating jobs. But here’s the rub: That sounds like a good idea, but our problems are much larger than job creation at this point. Some of our most basic institutions are in dire need of assistance. This bill, indeed, “throws money,” quite rightly, at three such areas, among others:
Education — In my home state (South Carolina), local school districts are scrambling to make ends meet amid widespread budget cuts from the state. Local officials seem to be doing a good job, at least in the county I live in, of cutting wherever necessary without having those cuts affect what happens in the classroom. But if the cuts continue, what happens in the classroom will eventually be affected, whether it be from cutting teacher salaries and benefits (some of this has already happened) thus not attracting quality educators … from making reductions in the quality of supplies, books and the like to save some cash. The current bill offers $44.5 billion to help local districts attempt to delay cutbacks and layoffs.
Health care — Giving tax cuts to small business is fine, but many small businesses can’t afford private health insurance, and Cobra is outrageous. The bill offers a 65 percent subsidy for those on Cobra, among other provisions, like assistance for states to continue funding Medicaid. One case in my state was that of Medicaid-funded hospice care. The state said it would discontinue paying on hospice, thus forcing those with chronic conditions to visit hospitals, rather than get cheaper home care for their conditions. One child with cerebral palsy was costing $131 per day to be treated by hospice professionals. His mother was paying with Medicaid. Had hospice been dropped, she would have taken him to the hospital or other doctors for the care he needed. One day in the local hospital here for him would have cost Medicaid more than $1,000. It makes fiscal sense to do all we can to keep Medicaid well-funded, lest folks with chronic conditions are forced to settle for indignant care at local hospitals, given the ballooned cost of basic health care. What sort of drain would it mean for the economy if hospitals across the country tanked because there was no system like Medicaid in place to help meet the needs of people who require expensive treatment just to keep them alive? Medicaid is not the least of the institutions which needed money “thrown” at it.
Unemployment — Again, this state’s jobless funds are in trouble. The bill provides $40 billion for states’ unemployment benefits.
(The above information about the stimulus plan comes from this AP report.)
Thus, the Obama administration’s bill is really more than just an economic stimulus; it’s a wide-sweeping plan to not only help put more money in individual pockets, but to bolster some of our most basic, and critical, institutions. It’s also at least a beginning to a potential fulfillment of one of Obama’s campaign promises: to fix broken schools, broken health care and broken infrastructure. It’s far-reaching. Why Republicans see this as a bad thing is a mystery. There were certain elements about it that I question. I haven’t checked if these were eventually axed, but they include:
- A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion pictures;
- $650 million for the digital television (DTV) converter box coupon program; and
- $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees. (From: CNN.com)
The Republicans’ notion of smaller government sounds good in theory, but in critical times like this, it’s simply inadequate for such weighty problems. It’s equivalent to if there existed only one small hospital and one hotel in a large metropolis: the institutions are dwarfed by the need. In times like these, the notion of small government breaks down.
It’s also interesting to note that politicians and talking heads who tout such an idea are on board when it comes to certain areas (gun control, financial deregulations, for instance) and all for government intervention in other areas (abortion, gay rights, censorship, for instance). They are all for that silly notion of trickle down economics (Let’s not actually help the poor and middle class too much, let’s wait for the rich’s resources to run down the pipeline. We saw how well that worked as banks and lenders greedily operated almost unchecked, darn near running our entire financial system into the ground. They were clearly interested in funneling some of their cash our way, huh?). Yet, in the latter areas, some on the right believe government has (and should have) a monopoly on morality and seem to think we can’t take care of ourselves and that we should read our Bibles more. The contradiction is shocking.
Regardless, the bill passed to the chagrin of many and will supposedly create about 3.5 million jobs, along with “throwing money at” struggling institutions. We can only wait to see how it will pan out, but what was needed was sweeping reform that tackles many critical areas at once, and right or wrong, this bill gives us that.
“Simply put, as the clock runs out of on the administration’s term in office, would-be Cinderellas—including the president, cabinet officers, and agency heads—work assiduously to promulgate regulations before they turn back into ordinary citizens at the stroke of midnight.” — former Mercatus Center scholar Jay Cochran
As if the blunders of Katrina weren’t enough. If illegally invading a country without provocation wasn’t enough, Bush, as seems to be the trend among outgoing presidentsawakened to the reality that their party no longer has control (at least for four years), seems to be doing his darndest to make a mess of things with his 12th-hour regulations. Here are a fewgems from OMB Watch. I recommend following the link for a large list. My remarks in parenthesis.
Mountaintop mining, Office of Surface Mining (Interior) — The rule would allow mining companies to dump the waste (i.e. excess rock and dirt) from mountaintop mining into rivers and streams. …
Endangered species consultation, Department of the Interior — The rule would alter implementation of the Endangered Species Act by allowing federal land-use managers to approve projects like infrastructure creation, minerals extraction, or logging without consulting federal habitat managers and biological health experts responsible for species protection. Currently, consultation is required. …
Air pollution near national parks, Environmental Protection Agency — The rule would ease current restrictions that make it difficult for power plants to operate near national parks and wilderness areas. … (The Bush Administration said this rule was withdrawn and would not finalized. Thank goodness!)
Runoff from factory farms,Environmental Protection Agency — Under the rule, concentrated animal feeding operations, i.e. factory farms, could allow farm runoff to pollute waterways without a permit. The rule circumvents the Clean Water Act, instead allowing for self-regulation. (Nice!) …
Drug and alcohol testing for miners, Mine Safety and Health Administration — The rule would require mine operators to test employees in “safety-sensitive” positions for drug and alcohol use. (This is a good one, I suppose.) …
Actually, the rule lifts the ban on carrying, not just loaded, but concealed weapons. Hunters, of course, pack heat in national forests all the time, but not in national parks. In its continual show of ignorant, rabble-rousing, gun-clutching mentality, the NRA made this statement: “‘We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America’s national parks and wildlife refuges,’” said Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist.” and this statement: “Gun rights advocates, notably the National Rifle Assn., have said the ban infringes on their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and their ability to defend themselves from predators, both human and animal. (the Los Angeles Times) The Second Amendment seems to me to be more a reference to military usage of arms, rather than civilian, as the newly formed country had just dispatched the British and were debating how best to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizenry from invading governments (as in the British). The Oxford English Dictionary defines “to bear arms” as “to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight.” But I won’t have the time to flesh this argument out at the moment. In either case, perhaps the Founders should have been more explicit.
But that debate rages on. Bush, in his last days in office, is dining with $499 bottles of wine on summits supposedly about the troubled economy, kissing veterans and doing more harm than good in handing down these midnight “rules” that, at the stroke of midnight, while Bush has turned back into a regular Joe (OK, he will never be a regular Joe, but you get the metaphor), will remain, leaving Barack Obama to pick up the pieces.