Friday, March 13, 2009

A plan to ban.

Banning things in the hope that they will go away is a process that shares a lot with prayer. Mostly because neither works. Drugs, alcohol, pornography and dancing on Sunday have always outrun or outlasted the censors but the censors never stop of their own free will despite the evidence that what they try to stop won't bring on God's wrath, won't destroy the fabric of civilization or bring on chaos. That their ideas don't work never convinces the zealot and we are and always have been a country where zealots rule.

I thought it was inevitable that there would be shootings and stories of shootings, now that more people are out of work, out of hope and feel cheated by circumstances. Of course others think the same and still others see it as an opportunity to beat on the Gun Ban gong again and so when random acts of violence occur, they will be played up to be more significant than they are. We've always had random acts of violence, we probably always will, despite the cycles of calls for ever more irrelevant, ineffective and perhaps fraudulent gun control laws. I've been listening to this all my life and so far, they haven't "grabbed our guns" and violent crime rates don't seem to be much affected by gun control laws, stringent or relaxed. Indeed allowing people to carry concealed weapons in Florida and making it legal to use deadly force against an attacker seems to have coincided with a substantial reduction in robberies and home invasions and still, crimes perpetrated by licensed people are virtually non-existent.

The renewed hysterics at the NRA and in other groups have convinced many that the Obama administration is determined to pursue the reinstatement of the "assault weapon" ban and so sales of semi-automatic weapons designed to look like real assault weapons have soared. and continue to remain high. According to the Wall Street Journal, a record 1,529,635 background checks were performed on firearms sales -- for the month of November. I'm not great at arithmetic, but I think that rate translates to 18 million gun purchases a year and that doesn't include private sales or gun show sales that don't require background checks. There is fear on both sides and both sides are doing all they can to promote as much of it as possible.

Tuesday's Alabama shooting is seen in two ways by people in two camps. Neither will see the situation as arguing against their persuasion. Some point out that the victims were all unarmed and so were perfect and perfectly defenseless victims. Others will argue that if semi automatic rifles with stocks made to look like military weapons were again banned, such things would not happen. Both sides could do with a bit more honesty.

Alabama of course allows concealed weapons to be carried by permit holders, and though it's possible that the shooter might not have done what he did if he thought some of them might be "packing" this example makes it pretty hard to substantiate the principle and impossible to say for sure. Easier to illustrate is the pretense that the AK, or SKS or Mini-22 I can buy down the street and off the shelf is an "assault weapon" No military in the world uses them. They fire the same kind of ammunition at the same rate of fire as any semi automatic hunting rifle. Just like Grandpa's semi-auto shotgun, one round is fired for every pull of the trigger, yet over and over and over, college journalism graduates with no knowledge, pump out commentaries like the WSJ article that tells us:
"Gun sales have soared in the months since the presidential election, due in part to fears among gun owners that President Barack Obama intends to ban assault weapons, or guns that can fire rounds more quickly than standard weapons." [italics mine]
No they can't, unless standard means bolt action, like the antique used to shoot JFK. The items formerly banned as "assault weapons" weren't. They may be able to hold more ammunition, but it's the same ammunition and they are not automatic weapons or machine guns at all. Again Reuters assures us they were Military Assault Weapons and implied that since he was a quiet person, any quiet person is a danger if he's allowed to have a rifle stock with a pistol grip.

Right after Reuters tells us that the shooting was the result of " easy" gun access in America, they report that in Germany on Wednesday, a 17-year-old gunman went on a shooting spree at his former school, killing up to 15 people before dying in a shootout with police. Germany has very strict gun control laws. Perhaps Reuters controls irony as well.

Elsewhere in the world, knife murders are occurring more frequently - at least being reported more frequently. There are a lot of statistics that seem to link times and places where people are forced to be defenseless with increased crimes of armed aggression, but the statistics are either flaunted or ignored depending on which side you're on and that side seems to me to have little to do with reality. Again Reuters mentions that "some people" defend the right to self defense as though the abridgement of that right were not clearly forbidden in the constitution and without mentioning that the "Some people" seem to be a majority.

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the news is being used and being distorted to create a greater sense of outrage and sell more papers. The very word "assault" conjures up pathological aggression and is chosen to create just as much irrational and hysterical opinion as are the polemics of the "pro-gun" people.

Is there a sane middle ground between the NRA hysterics and the anti-second amendment hysterics? Of course, but sometimes I think we're the only ones there -- and I'm not too sure about you.


rockync said...

Here's me, saying that more gun laws will NOT make our streets or homes any safer.
Once in a while, I work in a jail where I come face to face with violent offenders all the time. I feel pretty confident in saying none of these crimes were committed with a legally obtained weapon.
The probelm no one wants to address is the breakdown of civility and failed programs within our society.
It is not enough to build a ghetto and cut the old welfare checks. We have to care enough to build people up and create a desire in them to be better.
That hand up must be accompanied by a hug and a smile - we need to treat each other like human beings!

Capt. Fogg said...

"The probelm no one wants to address is the breakdown of civility and failed programs within our society."

Maybe it's because any hint of pragmatism smells like Socialism to the minority that run things. They always prefer drastic punishments for the few they catch even though it has proven not to work for hundreds of years.

Everyone talks about "Principles" instead, but what they really mean is prejudices.

betmo said...

i personally don't see the need for lay folks to own semi automatic weapons anyway. hunting and personal protection fine- but it only takes one bullet properly fired to bring anyone down wounded or dead. i don't understand folks either. i do know that as times get tougher and jobs and food and basic necessities scarcer- folks are going to get more violent. i agree with you about pragmatism and it's terribly unfortunate that so many people have an underdeveloped sense of it. yep.

Capt. Fogg said...

Well, I'm not a hunter but if I were camping in Sarah Palin country, facing down a charging grizzly or angry bull moose or wild boar (lots of them in Florida) for instance, I would certainly prefer to be able to get off that second or third shot without lowering the rifle and working the bolt. In truth, I would consider an AK-47 or the AR-15 "assault rifle" lookalikes far too puny and would opt for a much heavier caliber. Would an armed home invader be any less deadly to deal with?

When venturing into the Caribbean it's common to keep firearms on the boat. For this purpose I would prefer the added firepower and capacity of an autoloader which in my case is only a 9mm pistol. It's really not all that fearsome, but surprisingly there are people and places for whom and where even a flare gun is deemed too deadly to allow me to have one. I have two since I can't walk on water.

But to get back to fear mongering and public hysteria, remember that even if you don't exclude the hunting accidents, suicides and gang shootings that make up the bulk of shooting incidents, your neighbor's Hummer is orders of magnitude more of a danger to you than my neighbor the duck hunter with a semi-auto shotgun.

TRUTH 101 said...

Just as the right panders to evangelicals to keep them in the fold, the right also creates the boogeymen of government taking away our guns. I have yet to hear about any law abiding citizen's gun being confiscated yet. But the right owns the NRA with this lie.