Gun Regulation — or why you just cannot trust the liberals in America

Big Red Car here.

Hope you are getting ready for a nice New Years Eve holiday or at least a bit of the bubbly and a holiday spirit.  Have one on me and Happy New Year!

Be good to yourselves, you deserve it.

Well, I had hoped that The Boss would not get involved in the gun debate but I also wanted a white Christmas in Austin.  Not going to happen.  Either one.  So let me see if I can get his views down in print correctly.

Gun regulation v gun control

Folks are not really communicating on this issue.  They are talking by and around each other.  They are advancing their own agendae.  They are using human tragedy to leverage their own views.  They are defecating on the Second Amendment.

Liberals say “gun control” and really mean gun confiscation.  As they say around here:  “Stop peeing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.”  Gun confiscation is not going to happen.

I have no problem with that view or that political objective but just don’t pretend it is something else.  It is gun confiscation, an outcome that is not likely to survive a collision with the Second Amendment but will rile up things in the process.  That negative energy will preclude getting anything useful done.

Take a look at Senator Diane Feinstein’s proposed legislation and read it carefully.  It is not just about banning assault rifles, it is about banning any handgun which has a magazine and one military characteristic — like a front sight.  This essentially means all hand guns which have any kind of a magazine.  That is not a realistic or good faith outcome.  I suspect that Senator Feinstein, who had a concealed handgun permit herself and managed not to commit any gun crimes while she held it, is going to use that provision as a bargaining chip to get what she really wants.

This is an example of a legitimate war trophy which would be banned under Senator Feinstein’s legislation.

NRA types say “gun regulation” and mean keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people.  This is a mental health objective.  The NRA can be a leader on this front but they are going to be Hell on wheels against confiscation.

Crawl, walk, run

Most big ideas evolve from something small to something big during a protracted period of time.  The US had an “assault gun” ban from 1994 until 2004 and the US Congress could not get it renewed after it expired in 2004.

The current mania is attempting to force feed an artificial hot house solution to a problem using the perceived artificial crisis as a means to drive legislation.

As Rahm would say — don’t let a crisis go to waste!  Of course, he is one with zero credibility on this issue with over 500 gun deaths in Chicago alone in 2012.  He needs to ensure that his own knickers are clean before providing advice to anyone else.

Gun crime in Chicago does not need a single new law, it just needs to enforce the existing laws.

Joke

Joker:  How many NRA members does it take to change a light bulb?

NRA member:  More guns!

The perception of liberals is that the answer to everything to the NRA is “more guns”.  Funny joke, but not really true.

The NRA is the Nation’s leading provider of gun safety and marksmanship training and education.  If you take an NRA gun safety and shooting course, you are well armed intellectually to deal with guns.  The only legitimate rival the NRA has in this arena is the military.

The Boss learned to respect and use firearms growing up in a military family, at Virginia Military Institute and in the Army.  It was a skill for his profession as a professional soldier.  He learned to use a huge number of American and foreign weapons.  He is an accomplished marksman having shot “expert” on every weapon he has ever been tested on.  He knows his guns.

He would be a stickler for the right nomenclature — and would not call a rifle a “gun”.

“This is my rifle, this is my gun.  This is for fighting, this is for fun.”

But, hey, I’m just a Big Red Car — what the Hell do I know anyway?

Should we control/regulate guns or crazy people?  Or both?

It is pretty clear that every recent mass murder has been perpetrated by someone who was wrestling with a mental health challenge.  Not an excuse and every one of them knew the difference between right and wrong.  But an important consideration nonetheless.

It is also clear that these poor souls also were able to get their hands on weapons which were either inappropriately available or poorly secured.  Worse still, ammunition was available or unsecured.

This is the nexus — the mentally ill and the security of weapons and ammunition of all kinds — at which a difference can be made.  In the recent Newton massacre, the perp was unable to buy a weapon in accordance with Connecticut law but was able to get weapons — unsecured and with ammunition — from his own Mother.  He killed his Mother.

Even when folks agree that this is as much a mental health issue as it is a gun availability and security issue, there is still room for improvement on both fronts.

Big data

In the current age of Big Data, there is absolutely no excuse — screw you ACLU — for not having the ability to identify, catalog and have instantaneous access to a watch list of persons of interest as it relates to a pattern of real violent tendencies or a profile that is highly probable to commit such heinous acts.

The list should include persons who have been judged to be mentally ill, persons with allegations or convictions of violence, domestic abusers, persons with drug/alcohol/DUI convictions and allegations, persons using certain prescription drugs and persons who have been nominated to the Watch List.

In the age of Big Data, this list should work as well as Visa or Amex approving the latest trinket of your shopping Jones.  This is pretty tame stuff these days.

In addition, the marketplace should be able to spot patterns of market place activity which “profile” trouble.  If one is a graduate student and has just purchased six weapons and 10,000 rounds of ammunition, then local law enforcement should be able to identify and call upon this individual in real time — Hell, before the ammunition and weapons even arrive.  Amazon can do this with your Christmas presents for goodness sake.

Enforce Existing Laws

OK, let’s cut the crap.  Law enforcement is simply not enforcing existing gun laws.

Instead of New York City sweeping the streets clean of Big Gulps perhaps Hizzoner and Gotham City would be better served by cracking down on gun violations of all kinds.

New York and The City has been under the Sullivan Act since 1911.  The Sullivan Act essentially outlaws guns of all kinds in the State and City.

While I am truly supportive of the Big Gulp ban, I am more concerned to know how NYC can have feel so smug about having over 400 murders in 2012.  I can lick any Big Gulp that attempts to have its way with me but those murders are troubling.

In fairness, murders are at an all time low in NYC from a high of 2,245 in 1990.  Shootings — gun violence that did not necessarily result in a death — were over 1,350 in 2012.

Constructive Ideas

So in the polarized battle between the lefties and the NRA, are there some ideas upon which common ground can be shared?  Can we crawl, walk run?

  1. Let’s get the Big Data database of troubled persons working nationally.  The Watch List should be big and expansive, a wide net.  But it should only trigger greater scrutiny and not preclude gun ownership if the individual is cleared.  Focus on the nexus of the mentally ill and the gun.  Stop it right there.
  2. Let’s get Big Data to track profiled gun purchases and ammunition purchases and send a member of law enforcement to go see folks before the damn guns and ammunition arrive.
  3. Let’s enforce existing gun laws.  Furiously.
  4. Let’s close the gun show loophole.  Hey, they are selling real guns and they should adhere to real laws.
  5. Let’s make a 60-day waiting period for the acquisition of guns and surprise the public by getting it done more quickly.  Why not?
  6. Let’s throw some money at the existing stock of guns and foster gun turn in programs where guns are in the hands of folks who really do not want them, who have no current use for them and who have not adequately secured them.
  7. Let’s get the NRA out in front of the gun safety and marksmanship training components and get the NRA to report suspicious activity.  If the FBI had listened to its own agents, maybe 9-11 never happens.
  8. Let’s require current and future gun owners to safeguard weapons under lock and key, trigger locks and to store ammunition separately also under lock and key.  Let’s inspect and enforce this law.
  9. Let’s effectively regulate and not confiscate guns.  Let’s not pretend the Second Amendment is an inconvenience.  Unless you think you can amend the Constitution to remove the Second Amendment, get real and deal with it.
  10. Let’s engage in a constructive and adult dialogue and stop demonizing the NRA.  The NRA does not want mentally ill folks to come into contact with weapons of any kind.

OK, now play nice with each other out there.  BTW, The Boss is a long time NRA member and he believes in this stuff.

But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.

 

 

  • I must say that reading the car’s perspective has become one of the things I most look forward to.

    Similar to the boss I am an NRA member, and also a concealed carry license holder and avid hunter, but who doesn’t always agree with the dogma spewed by the NRA. As specified at the top of the post, the reason for my absolute opposition to the current nonsense proposed by Senator Feinstein, is that the intent is not to make anyone safer, but to lay the foundation for firearm confiscation. The amendment doesn’t say the “privilege” to keep and bear arms, it says the “right”. Until 2/3 of both houses and 38 states agree that it should no longer be a right, it should be respected as such.

    I’m a little disappointed that the safe bastion of gun control that is Washington DC was left of the list of examples. Perhaps we might look at the entire circumstance with different outcomes in different areas: strict gun control in some areas, and very little in others, yet no clear example of one being more effective, and ultimately realize that we are focusing on the wrong variable in the equation. Liberals will cite the example in Britain or Australia, while conservatives will cite Switzerland; what both sides continually miss is a basic law of statistics: correlation does not imply causation.

    I’m all for having a reasonable discussion on our firearm laws as they relate to violence on two conditions:
    1. This is not the only variable in the equation to be discussed
    2. The discussion is reasonable, which means we stop trying to ban things until we clearly explain what the desired outcomes are, can articulate how the proposed path gets us there without serious unintended consequences, and what happens if this path doesn’t pan out

    …getting off soapbox now

    • JLM

      .
      Thanks, Drew.

      The notion of correlation and causation is a very, very important concept to focus on.

      Too much of what poses for analysis is just a misguided round peg and round hole correlation — wrong peg in wrong hole.
      .

  • mburke73

    Interesting ideas. Here is an article that points out how few states have submitted data already to the national database used for background checks: http://www.salon.com/2012/12/26/most_states_ignore_mental_illness_background_checks_for_gun_buys/

    This does not sound very encouraging to me.

    Second, rather than have law enforcement trolling through millions of transactions looking for weapons and ammunition purchases, many of which could be made in cash and thus not pop up on a national screen, why not simply require such purchasers to provide proof of liability insurance? let the insurance industry determine the risk and create riders for homeowners or renters (or auto) policies. You could offer discounts for gun locks, attendance at (NRA-sponsored) training, low use (once a year hunters) or age of weapon, etc. Don’t ban anything, just make the insurance costs reflect the various levels of lethality, likely use by the owner, etc., This is the kind of private sector solution a red car should like.

    Third, take a look at the NRA’s 2010 form 990. (http://archive.org/details/NationalRifleAssociation2010IrsForm990). While 2/3 of its revenue comes from dues, one third appears to come from unnamed parties. I bet much of this is contributions from the firearms industry. While the NRA does have a wide variety of views among its members, it may be more concerned with keeping the corporate cash flow coming in, which may make it choose positions that are more likely to appeal to those folks over many of the rank and file–the total number of firearms is indeed increasing in the US, but the total number of owners is declining–so if you were an organization making a bet, which direction would you go? The 990 offers some other interesting insights into what the national NRA does–not much seems to be spent on safety training, but perhaps this is indicative of local chapters doing this for free rather than being paid for by the national organization.
    I won’t comment on Sen Feinstein’s bill, which we all know has no chance of passing in its current form.
    (

    • JLM

      .

      Hey, Mike. Thanks for commenting.

      There is a bit of history as it relates to the national background database and the ACLU. I do not know all the details off the top of my head.

      What I am advocating is a mental health registry to break the nexus between mentally ill folks — actual or profiled, I don’t care — and unauthorized access to guns of all kinds. This is the “massacre” solution.

      In the age of Big Data, there is absolutely no impediment or hurdle to acquiring data for all transactions. Amazon does $55B — 10% of all Internet transactions — annually easily and seamlessly.

      There is no reason not to obtain all gun information and a register of “no soup or guns for these crazy people”. They can appeal after they are identified and before they try to buy guns.

      The problem with the insurance approach is that criminals are already breaking laws and they will not be impacted by a new legal requirement. Take NYC and Chicago — both essentially outlaw all handgun ownership of any kind — and yet, they will have 400 and 500 handgun deaths in 2012 respectively.

      When folks are not adhering to existing laws, there is little expectation they will respect new laws. This is a pure law enforcement challenge.

      I would think there is some merit in having the gun manufacturers at the table either directly or through the NRA.

      The Constitution has a methodology for its amendment but it is not going to happen. In the shadow of the Second Amendment, there may be room for many good and useful and potentially effective modifications if folks can engage face to face — example, gun buy back programs.

      This is going to be a crawl, walk, run progressive evolution and not via fiat or plans like Sen Feinstein’s which will just arouse passions needlessly.
      .

  • Isn’t the NRA firmly against #4 and #5?

    • JLM

      .

      As a NRA member myself, I can assure you that there are a lot of different viewpoints within the NRA itself that are not articulated by the leadership. I wrote a letter the other day to Wayne Lapierre expressing these same views and received a nice reasonable reply.

      While I do not think the NRA deserves the public demonization it has suffered at the hands of the liberal left, the NRA does not speak with Papal infallibility and their positions will continue to evolve in accordance with the situation and with the views of its membership.

      The NRA is the most powerful force for gun training, education and safety in the US. That is their real mission. If you take an NRA gun safety and marksmanship course, you are receiving the best training possible second only to the military.

      It would be fair to say that everything about gun regulation — in particular, the nexus between mentally challenged folks who are not capable of rational decision-making and guns — is being re-evaluated today and why not?

      Still it is places like Chicago — 500+ murders by handguns this year — and New York City — 400+ handgun murders, a record low BTW — which really merit our closest attention. Often places which already have the strictest possible laws in the country.

      A clever person would allow the NRA — with its noted expertise and political clout — to take a leadership role in picking the low hanging fruit of gun regulation.

      To make the NRA the enemy when dealing with what in the short term may be a mental health issue is not very smart.

      The Big Red Car is not defending the NRA’s views on anything but mining its knowledge to find solutions that are realistic and useful for society.

      Thanks for writing, Mike, and Happy New Year to you and yours!

      JLM