Friday, January 11, 2013

Talking Gun Sense

I, like many other Americans, was completely horrified when news broke on December 14, 2012 of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. There were 27 dead (20 students, 6 faculty members, plus the perpetrators mother). None of the students were older than 8 years old, many of them had multiple gunshot wounds.

As someone who vividly remembers where they was when the Columbine happened, I wish I could say something like surprises me. It doesn't. While overall gun violence has gone down in the US, these mass shootings really feel like they're becoming more frequent. After the Virginia Tech massacre (2007), this current one had the highest death toll. Newtown was less 6 months after the Aurora, CO theater shooting where a guy opened up at the premiere of "the Dark Knight Rises" killing 12 & injuring 52.

The NRA's post-Newtown statement was completely tone deaf (not that I expected it'd be otherwise). They cited the prevalence of video games & diminished cultural values & then proposed that to stop "a bad guy w/ a gun is to arm a good guy w/ a gun." I'm not stranger to out-there ideas but this one's a doozie.

The big question I have to ask is who do they think is going to pay for this? Its certainly not going to come from the federal level, the Paul Ryan budget alone has already called for an across the board 15% cuts in discretionary spending (where education & health care is apart of). It sure as hell isn't going to come from the states. Here in NYS, they've already reduce education funding where schools have already cut class offerings, discontinued after-school programs, & consolidated services w/ nearby districts. Many teacher's unions have forgone their cost of living increases for the last 5 years (which means work more, paid less), increased their health care contributions. Many districts have left open positions vacant as well as seriously consider going to a 4-day week as a way to reduce their busing gas costs.

But let's look at the video games violence is the cause theory. What Mr LaPierre is not (convientantly) telling you is that the very same video game makers he decries producing many of these first-person shooter games work hand-in-hand w/ many of the arms manufacturers. Like a weapon you fired in the game like "Call to Duty"? Follow the partners link located on the game's website where you can get the real thing or something like it. Course this was before Newtown. Now nobody wants anything to do w/ the arms manufactures.

The other problem w/ "the only way to stop a bad guy w/ a gun is w/ a good guy w/ a gun" is because its to subjective. Take the Trayvon Martin case. There's nothing to stop that "good guy" simply misreading a situation, getting a burr up his rear, looking to reassert his alpha-maleness, & someone that doesn't need to be dead dies. I won't even claim in bullsh***ing that I know what happened. Zimmerman felt wronged & was specifically told by the 911 operator that he need not follow Tray. One thing lead to another, the situation probably got out of hand, & an unarmed Trayvon is dead.

Everyone agrees "something" needs to be done. Everyone agrees that those 27 people need not have been murdered. But what frustrates me about the discourse is when anyone proposes anything, they're immediately met w/ the old stand-bye "criminals aren't going to care about the laws". In some cases that's true but just because everyone speeds on the highway isn't a reason to not have a speed limit. These same people when confronted about what it is THEY propose, their silence is deafening. Its much easier to scoff why someone else's ideas won't work (even when the proposer openly acknowledges its flawed) than put your hide on the line & propose something of your own.

"Gun control" discourse should really be renamed "gun sense."

When I visit the VA & the first-hand the wreckage firearms can do to a person, I'd be more than happy to see blanket ban on anything beyond a 6-shooter hand-gun, a single shot rifle, & a double barreled shotgun. But I also know very well it ain't going to happen. When a firearms enthusiast hears "gun control", they freak out that they'll have no means to protect themselves. I may be a bleeding-heart liberal & a fierce defender of the 1st Amendment but I also acknowledge the 1st Amendment is NOT, I repeat, NOT absolute. I cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater because of a threat to public safety. Nor can I as a newspaper publisher print troop movements. Nor can I legally marry multiple wives as a tenant of my religion. Why then are 2nd Amendment Rights viewed as being absolute? Why does their right to bear arms supercede my right to life, liberty, & property w/o due process?

As a long-time believer in not only diagnosing problems but offering solutions, below are my "Gun Sense" proposals. In no particular order:

1- restrict the kinds of weapons that can be bought & produced on the civilian market (why ordinary citizens can buy clones of the same types of weapons that rival the military & law enforcement is beyond me)

2- restricting the size of clips (why does a person need a 20-round clip to kill a deer? In the Marines, we had a saying, "1 shot, 1 kill")

3- restricting the amount of ammo a person can buy at any one time (when a person buys a certain quantity of fertilizer at any one time, they get a knock on the door by the FBI)

4- universal background checks

5- restricting the kinds of ammo people can use. There is ammo the military uses that is specifically designed to not only shred flesh but bounce around & destroy it. Why can't effing up the person really bad but the person will live be sufficient?

6- greater funding for police "buy back" programs that help get guns off the street

7- greater regulation of the firearms industry itself. The toy industry comes under great Federal scrutiny, same w/ car & driver safety, same w/ the food industry all significantly have more regulations & watch-dog groups after them because they effect the public's health & safety. Why do firearms get a free pass?

8- create a gun insurance regulatory aspect. If I drive a fast Ferrari, you bet your bottom dollar my car insurance will be through the roof. Likewise if my car is equipped w/ an airbag or seat-belts, that insurance will be lower. The point is to that if it costs money to do their hobby, it might give them pause in doing that hobby. Same goes whether if they have a mentally unbalanced family member in the house or a young child getting their hands on the weapon & injuring themself or another.

9- greater mental health screenings. Heck w/ all the whackos out there, this would help society as a whole & hopefully getting people the help they so desperately need.

10- reinstate & update the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

11- tighten inter & intra-state gun transport. NYC & Boston has a big problem where people bring weapons from either upstate or across state lines where gun purchasing laws are loosen. Same w/ Boston. I propose making it a felony in failing to notify local law-enforcement within 2 weeks of you bringing a firearm into the district.

12- a media blackout of the perpetrators name. Considering we live in a free society, I simply propose a 5 month media-naming-the-perp blackout. Many of these killers do what they do SPECIFICALLY because of the notoriety that comes w/ the act. Almost nobody remembers the victims but we all now know who the killers are. & I'm suggested a 5-month naming-the-perp blackout because by the time the blackout expires, the media will have moved onto something else & its impact will be diminished.

I don't pretend any of these proposals are but it needs to be discussed & w/ luck acted upon. By doing nothing we guarantee that more tragedies like Newtown, CT happen again & on a more devastating scale.

In other news...

This here is Jamie. I remember her being a cool cat & having an infectious personality. Very fun to work w/.


Feel free to comment on any part of this blog.


Anonymous said...

Very well put. I'm glad you included the regulatory and insurance aspects. Gov. Cuomo just proposed the mental health aspect. That could get tricky.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you can see Jamie's personality coming through or your picture captured it. Nice.