Thursday, September 09, 2004

Assault Weapons Ban

gunThis blog is one of the scariest I have seen in awhile. These folks are pulling out the big guns (pun intended) in their fight to ensure the end of the 10 year-old ban on Assault Weapons.

I don't understand how 27,000 people can be shot to death in the last year and it's not seen as a major problem. No one really seems to care?

One thing I do agree with this blogger on... Bush hasn't flip-flopped on this issue. He just LIED when saying he supported the ban in the first place.

If we are going to be safer under the Bush administration, then how about protecting our neighborhoods from these weapons of destruction that are in our backyards. Instead people are more focused on what John Kerry was doing in Vietnam or whether George W. Bush was or wasn't in Alabama.

Far more Americans have died as the result of guns in our own cities than on 9/11 or in Iraq and Afghanistan in our supposed "war on terror".

If you want a safer America, then why not deal with the real problem? Oh yeah, because it's easier to talk about ignore a problem rather than doing something about it.

3 comments:

Publicola said...

I don't intend to frighten you, merely to explain.

For starters you should understand how those 28,000 deaths from firearms are broken down. Roughly 16,000 are suicides. Of the remaining 12,000 there are approximately 900 negligent discharges (what's usually but inaccurately called accidental shootings) which leaves 11,100 intentional shootings that result in death.

The suicides would not be affected by the availibility of firearms. Look at Japan - very strict gun contorl yet a suicide rate quite a bit higher than ours.

The 900 negligent shootings - each one is a tragedy, but the number is very low historically. Proper education about how to handle firearms will do much much more to reduce this number. & BTW, about 10% of those 900 are children under 14. To put things in perspective, more children drown each year than are negligent shot.

The 11,100 - that also includes justifiable shootings, though to be honest I'm not sure what percentage is involved.

Now keep in mind that this is out of a nation of 280,000,000 of which roughly 80,000,000 are gun owners. Each individual case is sad I'll admit - but the numbers are statistically very low considering our population.

Another number for you to ponder: it's estimated that between 80,000 & 2,000,000 people in this country use a firearm to defend themselves every year.

As for "assault weapons" - they're used in less than 2% of all gun related crime each year. There has been no measurable effect the "assault weapons" ban has had. Most of the mass shootings that have struck out sensibilities in the last decade or so have happened after an "assault weapons" ban was in place. Gun control such as the "assault weapons" ban really does not alter things to any measurable extent. Criminals will find whatever weapons they require for their purpose. The only thing that gun control accomplishes is disarming people who intended no harm. It deprives a person of the means to defend himself.

The "assualt weapons" ban specifically; it prohibits the new manufacture of certain firearms based solely on cosmetic appearances. A pre ban firearm does not function any differently than a post ban firearm, it just looks a little different if you look closely.

Now the reason the "assault weapons" ban is bad is because it prohibits firearms based ont he flimsiest of reasons. It's not the ban itself that materially hurts us, but the precedent it continues.

Owning firearms is a Right. It is a necessary companion tot he Right to Defense which is a necessary comapnion to the Right to Life. You can't be secure in your Right to Life if you can't defend it, & you can't defend it unless you have tools that are necessary & proper for that purpose. That's why the 2nd amendment is in the federal constitution, & similar provisions are in most state constitutions. It acknowledges that the people will not be deterred in owning or possessing the tools necessary to defend themselves, & the main thrust of that defense is from governments, either foreign or domestic, with hostile intent towards the people's liberty.

The "assault weapons" ban jeapordizes that Right - not so much because of the weapons it actually bans, but because it's a stepping stone to a broader ban. So if we can ensure the "assault weapons" ban sunsets we can set back the forces in government & the private sector that have not learned from history & would attempt to disarm us.

Brevity is not my strong suit, & the subject itself is very complax. But in a nutshell that's why we're doing what we're doing. Hopefully this will give you an idea of why we're doing what we're doing even if you still disagree.

& Bush - he didn't lie I'm afraid. He's styated his support for renewing the "assault weapons" ban. Luckily for all concerned he's just failed to use his political muscle to press the issue.

As for the "real problem" you wish we'd address - I'm sorry but gun control isn't the answer. Look at D.C., NYC & Chicago; they all have very strict gun control along with very high crime rates.

The "answer" is as complex as the problem, but it lies more in the socio/economic side than is banning any material object.

I'll be more than happy to discuss this further with you if you wish. & I do appreciate you reading this, even if you disagree with it.

Wabi-Sabi said...

While I disagree, I appreciate the well-thought and articulate comments I have received on this post by e-mail and here on the blog. Turning on the new Navigation Bar on Blogger has definitely generated interest in my blog. : )

For me, I understand er.. appreciate the "right to revolution" intent of the Right to Bear Arms. However, I think the government left us in the dust long ago in that regard. As George Carlin says, "what we need is the right to bear Flame Throwers".

While I am concerned about the power of the government and it's tendency to infringe upon our human rights, (see Patriot Act) I think a more likely threat to my most valuable personal freedom (right to life) is caused by the proliferation of guns in this country. The fact is that I am more likely to be killed by a gun if I have a gun in my home. The same is true in my community or neighborhood.

Simply put, more people will die if the AWB expires. I can't support that. It's a threat to my life, the life of my family and more likely my clients at the shelter.

That's a more imminent threat to my inalienable right to life than the unlikely chance that the government is going to come door to door and take people's guns away.

But hey that's just one man's opinion.

Publicola said...

Jim,

Here's the thing: by you having a firearm you do not increase the chances of you dying from a firearm. I assume you still have that "43 times more likely" number running through the back of your mind. Well it turns out that study was debunked long ago - faulty methodology as well as biased intentions behind it.

the odds of you dying by gunfire are very very slim, whether you own a firearm or not. Think about the raw numbers - 280,000,000 in the country right now. 28,000 a year die from gunfire. If you don't plan on committing suicide the number drops to 12,000. If you can exercise the common sense it takes to operate a chainsaw then that number drops to 11,100.

But getting to the substance of it all - if you don't feel you want or need a firearm, that's fine. I'll try to convince you to change your mind for a number of reasons (it's a fun hobby, it's a potential life saver, etc) but I won't force a decision on you. I won't even force you to choose. But when you advocate any type of ban you're taking away my choice (presuming your advocacy is effective).

The "assault weapons" ban expiring won't materially effect the homicide rate one way or the other. A: they simply weren't used that often in crime & B: the ban itself dealt strictly with cosmetic features. Many firearms that function the exact same way as the dreaded semi-automatic "assault weapon" were specifically exempted from the ban because even Difi conceded they had a sporting purpose.

The only real effect the ban had was on shooters who competed in matches & collectors of military arms. Prices went up & a few match rules were changed, but that was the extent of the material effect of the AWB.

Criminals - look, if you were going to rob a liquor store or a bank, would you want to spend $600 for a pre-ban semi-auto AR-15, or $400 for a fully automatic Ak-47? Criminals will always work around prohibitions - it's not like putting up a sign saying they'll do 5 to 10 for having a prohibited weapon is going to stop them from killing or robbing.

So if the ban was ineffective then why am I so anxious to get rid of it? That's because in principle it was a big deal: they banned a whole class of firearms based solely on cosmetics. They invented the category "semi-auto assault weapon". It didn't exist in the world of us gun nuts before California passed its ban.

What it was was a foot in an already cracked door that would make the next law that banned even more firearms much easier. There's a bill sitting in the house right now with a companion in the senate that would ban every semi-automatic rifle or shotgun in the country today. That's what the goal of the anti-gun lobby is. & this isn't just a paranoid rant by a gun nut who disagrees with your position. If you like I can show you from their own mouths (the heads of the anti-gun lobby) that they wish to ban all firearms from civilian possession.

As for the government already outgunning us: if we went toe to toe - maybe. There are roughly 200,000 machine guns in private hands (yes, they're legal but it's a burdensome permit process) as well as other military weapons, such as cannons & howitzers. & no, no crime has ever been committed with one of those licensed & overly regulated weapons. But even forgetting that, there are roughly 80 million gun owners in the country. If the government ever did try to set up death camps & if the entire military went along (which is really iffy) then you're looking at 80 million to what? 4 or 5 million in the armed forces? & even if only 1/10th of 1% choose to resist, you're talking about 80,000 people. Assuming they do the smart thing & use guerilla tactics then it'd take approximately 800,000 regular troops to keep them in check. Not defeat them, but just stalemate them.

So practically speaking, an armed citizenry could still take on a professional military with decent results. But that's not the beauty of the Right to Arms:

The government knows the numbers I quoted above. They also know that a military action against its own people can't go on for long or the military will stop thinking its a good idea. The government simply does not want to risk taking on an armed populace. Even if they "win" the price would be too high even for government to pay. That's the beautiful thing - it's a very very effective deterrent.

One more number to throw at you; 170,000,000. Know what that is? That's the number of people killed by their own governments in the 20th century. In almost every case the targeted population was disarmed.

Firearms in the hands of the populace don't really affect the rate of crime one way or the other - not on the whole. What it does do is give a government looking to do something really bad a good reason to rethink.

The causes of crime are complex, & they all center on socio/economic concerns. The availability of guns does nothing to affect this on the whole. & it won't unless you can wave a magic wand & make every gun disappear. But if that happened, then you'd be worried about the proliferation of swords, or knives, or sticks, or sharp rocks. Those who seek to do harm will always find a tool to use. Gun control merely ensures that their victims will be easy prey. I'd go so far to say that it encourages them.

There's a line from Lord of the Rings that’s very fitting: "those without swords can still die upon them". The people who are affected by gun controls laws are the ones who weren't going to try to harm you in the first place. The ones that would harm you will get whatever they feel they need law or no law.

As for me, I'm at risk by gun control laws - not because I'm a robber or a murderer. If I own a firearm with the wood or metal 1/4" too short, or with certain inappropriate features (at least until Monday) then I risk 5 to 10 years in a prison. Not because I tried to harm anyone, or because I was negligent in my actions - but because I violated a senseless rule that accomplished no part of the stated good which it was enacted for. That's the danger to us gun owners from gun control. Possession even with no harmful intent throws the weight of the government against us.

Now if we reversed places, would you feel it was right for a cop to arrest you & a judge to throw you in jail because you violated a law that said you HAD to have a weapon? Especially if you could prove to a reasonable person that the law was ineffective at its stated goals & violative of the constitution?

No more people will die because of the AWB sunsetting than would have died if it had remained in place. The law simply did not effect those with harmful intent. It didn't keep the police form being outgunned nor did it stop some of the worst mass shootings in our history (columbine was after the federal ban & Stockton was after the more restrictive California ban). What would have happened if the ban had stayed in place would be a bill to prohibit even more weapons, instead of what we'll have now, which will be a bill to reinstate the ban as it was.

& I think you'll find that, despite the stereotype generated by the press & the anti-gun lobby, that the vast majority of gun owners are decent, reasonable people. We're not to be feared as long as you don't break into our houses in the middle of the night or try to car jack us. If you disagree with our position & can discuss it why w/o resorting to name calling then odds are we'll sit down, buy you a drink & talk things over with ya. Now I'm a redneck. An unreconstructed, uncivilized one at that, but if the topic was something else I don't think you'd have been surprised at the level of civility I've expressed - even though you're advocating something which is, to put it mildly, a slap in the face to my Right to Arms. I won't threaten you or harass you or generally be rude - I’ll simply try to talk you into changing your mind as would most gun owners. I think what always gets us (collectively) is when someone expressed fear at us or surprise when we turn out not to be scary. Hopefully you'll not fall for the stereotype any more.

I don't own a semi-auto "assault weapon". I own one rifle that I could turn into one (it's a delightful little .22) but I doubt I will. I will pick up some magazines that hold more than ten rounds, as it's been a while since I've bought the 11 round magazines one of my pistols normally takes. I have no vested material interest in seeing the ban expire. I do have a vested principled interest in stopping the incremental confiscation of Arms which is all the AWB amounts to.

But just between you & me, if My State ever needs me, then I'll grab a battle rifle used in WW2 & Korea - the M1 Garand. It’s good from 6 to 600 yards, whereas almost all of the "assault weapons" affected by the AWB aren't worth much at ranges past what a .30-30 lever gun could be used for - about 300 yards. Oh, you thought they were powerful weapons? Nope - another anti-gun lobby lie. They're generally low powered even when compared to hunting rifles. Most states won't let you use them because they're not powerful enough for game bigger than coyotes.

If you're interested I'd be happy to provide evidence for almost all of the statements I've made. The question I have for you is simply this: if my facts are right would that cause you to rethink your conclusion?

Again I do thank you for your time & bid you good night.