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Meaningful contributions, gun control and other themes

I’ve owned an assault rifle for 10 years. Fired it once. I planned on firing it more, specifically at whatever back-yard farm-field targets I could procure (watermelons, cans), but never got around to it. Ammo, in this day and age, is expensive, and so is time when you are a journalist with a full-time working wife and a 2-year-old child.

If handing that rifle over to some authority and banishing it to some scrapyard would put an end to mass violence, I would happily do it. I’m not in the current state of mind that our country is on the verge of some kind of totalitarian takeover, though I know people on the conservative side of things who do. Maybe there is a day and place that comes true, but it certainly isn’t now. Luckily, I’ve never lived in a neighborhood where I felt I need the protection. I did, however, feel the need to protect my 2-year-old. My rifle and revolver are now out of the house. Seeing as my little girl had no problem unlocking and using an iPhone at the tender  age of one and a half, I figured a trigger-lock wouldn’t be much more difficult. Not everyone would make that choice, but it is the one I made.

That said, I don’t believe handing over that rifle would do much to stop another Sandy Hook, Aurora or Columbine. We’ve had an assault weapons ban, that didn’t stop the infamous L.A. AK-47 shootout and it certainly didn’t stop Columbine. State laws didn’t stop the Sandy Hook massacre, and federal age limits didn’t keep the shooter from taking a gun he couldn’t rightfully purchase. Every law and road block failed Sandy Hook. This is a country of 300 million firearms, a frontier country in some aspects still, and guns are part way of life and part tool for every day living. Even if confiscation were to occur, it wouldn’t be possible. And most people in Washington understand this as a fact of life and politically, even though they may say otherwise.

I didn’t agree with much at the NRA press conference last week. I find it hard to argue that we need a national data base of the mentally ill when one of the tenants of your organization is against any kind of similar data base of gun owners. I understand the difference, but does the average voter? It smells of hypocrisy and desperation. Blaming video games and movies from 15 years ago just makes one seem out of date and out of touch. Giving preference of one amendment over the other? Among other suggestions, I think arming teachers is a bad idea. Teachers have enough problems, and certainly from the many bad ones I had, I don’t think many were fit to teach let alone carry a hand gun.

That said, I’ve studied this issue for years, both in school and on the job, and I think there are meaningful changes that can be made, though you can’t  stop a suicide-attacker if they are determined enough and if they don’t have a background of mental issues or criminality. That may be the hardest fact of all.

  • Make everyone take a conceal-carry course. If you buy an assault rifle, black rifle or a handgun, you take the course. Bottom line. Gun crimes amongst those with conceal-carry permits is, percentage wise, similar to the number of law enforcement people who commit such crimes. Making the courses mandatory is a win all around. You give experience and education to the owner. Given everyone is taking that course, the crime number might rise, but it would be insignificant. Course instructors have an expert eye for who shouldn’t be carrying a firearm. I’ve interviewed for a job recently for a business that sold weapons, and it was clear from my experience the number-one blockade between the crazy and the armed crazy is the guy behind the counter, the guy doing the background check and the guy in charge of the conceal-carry course. Most of the time they do an excellent job.
  • Close the gun show loophole. Most gun dealers, who operate at shows, do background checks anyway. I purchased my last gun at a gun show and took a background check over the phone that was similar to a credit check. It took 10 minutes. This would effect mainly private owners, but booths could be set up to run checks for individuals selling weapons. This would take a great burden off the mind of many people looking to sell a gun at shows. I know many who avoid doing so just because of this worry.
  • More aggressive mental health treatment. Mental health funding has dropped in recent years, and it has changed. The field needs to be more adaptive, especially in treating individuals who show early warning signs. Rounding people up and hauling them off to the rubber room will never be an acceptable treatment, but identifying potential individuals with trouble and getting them more aggressive treatment (not just drugs) would be a welcome approach. As someone whose family has had dealings with our current mental health system, getting people help can be one of the most frustrating things a person can experience.
  • More experience. I think the gun industry needs to do more to see that the average person gets some kind of experience handling a firearm. The number of journalists and professors I know who have never even shot a pellet gun is astounding, especially when many of these people are influential in creating policy. Experience and education would do a lot to clear up misconceptions about firearms, it would also lead to a more mature discussion of the issues.
  • Recognize the trade-offs. If people want to move forward with a more complete weapons ban, one more complete than the 1994 law, we need to understand how this will affect society. Mass shootings may drop, as suicide-attackers may find it harder to get weapons (that’s a big maybe). But every-day crime would certainly increase, which has been the case in other countries where laws to limit handguns have taken place. Hot crimes, crimes that take place in the home while the owners are present, blew up exponentially after Britain tightened gun laws. The number one detriment to crime is an armed citizen, this can not be denied. These facts have led to protestations from the public in Britain, and for the understanding lawmakers to label their own voters barbarians. Still, this is a debate that needs to be discussed in the public venue. It’s a trade-off I doubt most American citizens would want to make.
  • Increase police presence. This suggestion by the NRA was decried as some kind of new police state, though I believe the organization is wrong in how it went about it. I don’t believe in blowing billions on new security guards or making a database of armed volunteers. Instead, use the local police we already have to better patrol schools and to have a regular presence on the grounds. Where would a cop be more useful, protecting your children on an in-and-out basis at the school yard or sitting in the parking lot of your local gas station writing speeding tickets? Chances are, the largest concentration of people in your town will probably be at the local schools, it only makes sense to put police there first and foremost. This can be done without rattling students, without a feeling of armed enforcement. The question should be – why aren’t police more present at schools anyway?

 

23 comments to Meaningful contributions, gun control and other themes

  • -fritz-

    Regarding school police…we do, in Las Vegas have a full time vehicle and foot patrol school police force. They are armed, post certified peace officers who have been through the police academy, etc. Rarely, if ever, is there an incident of violence in the school system here, even considering the fact that we have a large street-gang contingent here that flowed over from LA in the 1980s thanks to some CA judges making some of theirs move out of state or face prison. The schools are closed campus and you don’t get in there unless on legitimate school business. All this in the wild west where open carry of a registered pistol is legal and CCW permits abound. Considering the main venue in Vegas is gaming, and the past criminal element, we have an average to below average amount of violent crime. It’s not perfect here, but a crapload better than DC, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland all with the most gun restrictions in the country. Your chances of getting shot and killed in those cities is way higher than the chances of getting it in Afghanistan!

  • -fritz-

    ED…Help!!!

    -fritz-
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    December 22, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Reply

  • As a CHL instructor you’d think I’d welcome the proposal that everyone who buys a handgun take the class. But I think the cause and effect you seek is not there reference taking a CHL class and a lower crime rate. The crime rate isn’t lower because they took the CHL class, it’s lower because of the kind of people that seek to have a CHL.

    Also by saying you wish everyone who buys a black rifle would have to take a class gives that rifle which is the same weapon as a more conventional looking .22 semi some kind of mystical power that it doesn’t possess. I suppose shotguns are no issue since you didn’t mention them.

    I would advocate that anyone who buys a handgun, rifle or other shooting device to educate themselves in how to use and take care of it but it shouldn’t be a requirement to pay $100 (the going rate for the instruction around here, the state charges another fee unless you are active duty military) to attend a 12 hour class which is mostly about the laws regarding self defense to be able to own something which is guaranteed me by the 2nd Amendment.

    Don’t have a problem closing the gun show loophole…besides guns generally cost more at the gun show in my experience. I’m sure that opinion would get me kicked out of the NRA. :)

    Banning weapons and other things isn’t going to stop anything or anyone who wants to do wrong. Cocaine has been illegal for quite sometime but I am certain if you tried hard enough you could find some. Just ask Michael Irvin.

    Fact of the matter gun crimes have decreased in the past ten years nation wide. Ironically in the cities with the most stringent laws regarding weapons crime is rampant.

    • Mandating taking the class is a nonstarter — unenforceable, too open to fraud, plus it would smack of a poll tax type discrimination (not in theory, but in practice and based on socioeconomics) on a constitutional right. Not saying it is discriminatory, but I know the enemy.

      We need crazy control. I don’t mind some sort of armed security at schools. Israel does it. It’s a sad necessity. I wouldn’t mandate it, but I’d definitely advocate districts come up with their own solutions.

      Many already have school resource police officers, though not usually elementary schools. I advocate abolishing traffic cops — or repurposing them to the more socially useful school protection detail. Notice the lack of a smiley face.

      • Texacalirose

        I advocate abolishing traffic cops — or repurposing them to the more socially useful school protection detail. Notice the lack of a smiley face.

        If everyone would drive the speed limit and stop at red lights and yield to pedestrians and not drive on the sidewalk to bypass school busses and really only have “a couple of beers with dinner, Officer” with full knowledge that the laws are not binding because there is no one to enforce them, we wouldn’t need traffic cops. However, the honor system doesn’t work for everyone.

        I did a lot of traffic enforcement (specializing in DUI’s, BTW), and sometimes it went something like this:

        “So why don’t you go catch a murderer or a rapist instead of giving me a ticket for a stupid stop sign? I’m not a criminal.”

        “I would if I didn’t have to deal with people who think the laws are for everyone else but them. If people took personal responsibility to obey the laws, even simple, easy to understand laws like stopping at stop signs, I could dedicate my time catching murderers and rapists. Please sign here and have a nice day.”

        Yo, Floyd, slow down. [Notice the smiley face: :)]

    • Why do you hate black guns racist?

  • -fritz-

    http://news.yahoo.com/fact-checking-nra-press-conference-185542748.html

    This writer of the article calling out the NRA needs to check their own “facts”! The point is that there are a lot of violent video games and movies that influence our kids, not to mention parents that for the most part, are detached from the rearing of thier own kids, and use the public schools as a babysitting service. La Pierre may have used some names of old games and movies, but the facts are still correct!

    • -fritz-

      Believe me when I say that having a gun in the house and knowing how to keep it safe and how to use it is 100s of percentage points better than waiting for the cops to arrive after a 9-1-1 call! Instant help as opposed to an average police response of anywhere from 10 minutes to a half hour!

  • firecapt

    What class does the Journalist take, being a member of the free press of the First Amendment? What course must a voter take before he exercises his right? The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a RIGHT, and I am amazed that people do not understand that.
    We are not subjects, we are citizens.

  • Remember taking a hunter’s safety course, to get my hunting tags, when I was in my early teens – but I learned more about gun safety from my Dad. (Of course, it’s not a “gun” – it’s a rifle/pistol. :) ) I guess now that the “Dad” is dispensable, we can forget about that.

    • -fritz-

      I remember a few tines when I was a kid, others bringing their hunting rifles to school and making “show & tell” presentations! Oh, the horror of that now! Funny how we survived! :-)

      • That was before the hippies got hold of the schools and taught all those eager young minds that guns are evil.

      • Tracy,txmom2many

        My mom was part of the rifle club in high school and they did target practice on the grounds after school. No school shootings. My great-grandfather and siblings had to walk to school through an area where there bobcats so his daddy occasionally sent him to school with a gun to protect his sisters. No school shootings. My aunt worked at a school, had pistol in her car and everyone knew it. No school shootings. And the last one was in the 80′s, but in Brooksmith. Don’t bother looking it up on a map, it’s a suburb of Brownwood ;) (if you’ve ever been to Brownwood, you’ll know why that’s funny)

        • My best friend regularly came to high school with a deer rifle mounted in his pick up truck (late 70s) in Waco, TX no school shootings.

          I’ve been to Brownwood, many times…that is funny. :)

        • That is funny… now I want some Underwood’s BBQ

          • You ain’t the only one! Underwood’s is the biggest landmark that I know of there, and I only know where Brownwood is because the Texas State Guard moved our AIT “summer camp” to Camp Bowie, just south of town, after the NGs decided they wanted Camp Swift all to themselves, between Bastrop and Elgin.

  • Texacalirose

    And one other thing, in San Francisco a couple of years ago, the school board voted to disallow the school resource officer from coming onto campuses with a gun … what more can I say … uniform good, help with the stoodunce good, but no gun.

    Fortunately, the mayor-appointed police chief adamantly objected and was supported by the mayor and City mothers & fathers.

    So there’s that.

  • Scott M.

    Most of the people in my city who are shot are shot by friends or family members who are usually under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they get into some sort of disagreement(same goes for stabbings).What we need is attitude and anger control.Truth to tell,incidents like Newtown are an aberration.Sort of like airline crashes:lots of people die at once,and lots of people decide that flying isn’t safe,when in fact commercial airline travel is far and away the safest mode of transportation.

  • One of my favorite clips, from one of my favorite films – ’bout sums it all up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ternps0JFwo

  • Raoul Ortega

    I’m living in a stupid society and a stupid country.

    We’re approaching an economic collapse and in world politics we’ve got the worst features of both June 1914 and early 1938 approaching fast, and what are the big political issues of the past few months– gun control and “war on women” and “racism” and of course more free stuff and electing politicians who are “just like us.”

    “Remember taking a hunter’s safety course, to get my hunting tags,”

    Do schools still offer “driver’s ed”? What about “sex ed”? Why not push for mandatory “gun users ed”? That should cause your typical Leftist Progressive to have fits, as it combines something they love (making things “mandatory”) with something they despise.

    It would also ntroduce the little monsters to weapons in controlled circumstances with adult supervision, instead of making ‘em learn about it in the back alleys and dispel all those myths they’d learn there. Isn’t that the point of all the other indoctrinations the little wards of the state are put through?

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