Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Liberals did it, the Liberals did it!

The reaction was swift and predictable. Trolls, whose abusive name calling I won't indulge by posting have assured me that the Arizona shooting was the work of a "Liberal" like me although a man obsessed with returning to the gold standard and pretty much toeing the Tea Party line sounds pretty conservative although I'm the first to say those words are less meaningful as descriptive words than they are as tribal markers. Enraged paranoid schizophrenic who was provided a target by irresponsible political rhetoric? But that won't do, this is a game for two parties, not for reasonable people.

Fox, without of course admitting any culpability or telling it's viewers that they were doing it, has demanded it's talking heads tone down the rodeo of rage. Sarah Palin redacted the hell out of her web site and that picture of smiling Beck pointing two pistols at the camera suddenly disappeared from view so that they can say who me?

I don't expect any public self-examination and I do expect the hunt for false equivalence to escalate on the Republican side along with the effort to portray the shooter as being outside the ring of righteous wrath, around which their circus tent is pitched. I'm sure that soon enough, Michelle Bachmann's desire to have people "armed and dangerous" so that they can "fight back" will be cleansed of inherent irresponsibility and any trace of inappropriateness, but I'm not sure the idiot rage can be stopped at this point even if God raptures up the entire Fox staff and Bachmann loses the power of speech. (please, God?)

The hoplophobes, the safety nuts who would dearly like and fatuously think they can legislate away all they are afraid of, (and that's lots of things) from cars that go faster than a Model T to McDonalds Happy Meals are pushing more gun control and usually without any knowledge of guns or how they're already controlled. There's a great deal of hoopla about "extended magazines" from those who call them clips and confuse cartridges with bullets.
"Why would anyone want one?"

is the loaded question as though they weren't the choice of many yacht owners who find themselves in an updated and unwanted episode of Pirates of the Caribbean - and many of my friends have been. It's either that or buy an Uzi at twice the price. They used to be banned! it's said, and that's true - or sort of true since they weren't really taken off the marked by that ban. With a supply of tens of millions of units, banned weapons and accessories actually saw a boost in sales of "pre-ban" items, but that remains news to those who really are so far out of the great loop of reality they think a semi-automatic rifle is far more dangerous when it has a plastic military stock instead of a nice walnut one. No military in the world uses what we're told is an "assault rifle" and of course the famous ban didn't actually ban these civilian weapons -- but who reads? Who needs to when we have those freeze dried, microwaveable TV Dinner opinions available? Solidarity, on both sides of the mainstream, is too much fun to risk and emoting is the American pass-time, of course. But I digress.

"That Jared Loughner was legally able to obtain the gun and ammo that he used to attempt an assassination of a member of Congress, slay a federal judge, and kill others should send a shiver down the collective spine of this nation."

writes one website Jeremiah. How could we have made that illegal without making it illegal for millions and millions and millions of people who like to shoot targets, clay pigeons or real pigeons? How could we make it impossible when all our efforts to make things go away by outlawing them have failed and made the alleged problem worse? Are Democrats all about not trusting the citizenry and imposing prior restraints without probable cause? It's too easy for their opposition to make that case and apparently it's too hard for Democrats to recognize the contradiction or that they're equally the party of fear as the party that obsesses about taking away guns and imposing Sharia law. In fact this incident could be a gain for Republicans who have used the fear of more gun bans to make Democrats into depraved authoritarian bogeymen.

Hey, that a handful of Saudis and Egyptians could hijack a plane because reinforcing the cockpit doors was an unnecessary government regulation is scarier, but that's just me. I still don't want to make all sharp things illegal. That Tim McVeigh and accomplices were able to buy fertilizer and fuel oil and rent a truck was more deadly. Where's the Mothers Against Ammonium Nitrate movement? What's to stop me from buying some and going spontaneously insane?

Frankly I'm more spinally shivered that people drive drunk while talking on the phone and smoking cigarettes at 40 over the limit in 7500 pound vehicles with bumpers at the height of my face. It's a clear and present danger. I'm in danger from people who run jet skis through packed anchorages at 60mph and towing their kids behind on inner tubes more than from madmen with guns in a country where violent crime has been declining for decades. If I go 6 miles southwest of here, I'm in more danger from alligators and wild hogs than from any man sane or otherwise. But even if we do ban everything that has the potential for mayhem -- like alcohol or drugs or 1200 horsepower speed boats; kitchen knives and chain saws, most of us are smart enough to know it won't solve the problem. Most of us.

The problem is crazy violent people. Instead of providing care and treatment, we protect their freedom to roam about, soak up the Fox fantasies about overthrowing the government with violence until they flip and buy a gun or drive the wrong way down the interstate -- or fly a plane into an IRS office.

Freedom isn't safe. I wish I could make those words flash like a neon sign and I wish the Democrats would not so quickly and obliviously shoot themselves in the foot by making this about more ineffective gun control. That's not because I like them so much. It's because what I want is something between the "we can't trust you to be responsible" and the "why should I have any responsibility for anything" attitudes.


Buffalo said...

Redundant and repetitive to say - Good job and well said.

RR said...

Well put ... The right incites violence and is 'shocked' when it occurs... And the left pretends the weapons are the problem. Oye vey.

Capt. Fogg said...

Thanks Buff

The left obsesses about guns and the Right is right there to make them seem like totalitarians -- and nobody addresses the real problems, of course.

d nova said...

not sure wha u mean re dems "making this about more ineffective gun control."

i'm no dem, but are u saying u want EFFECTIVE gun control, including effective background checks and effective enforcement against gun dealers who fail to be an effective "first line of defense" n sell a high percentage of crime guns?

or are u saying u want no gun control at all?

Capt. Fogg said...

Of course not and we already have more gun control than many people realize. I favor laws that keep incompetents, loonies, people with violent histories and the like far away from any kind of weapon. It has a better chance than arguing forever about how many rounds a magazine can be permitted to have or whether a rifle stock is plastic or wood. Laws are written by people dangerously ignorant about firearms.

And I want it to be effective, of course. I want to know how a school and campus police and others knew this guy needed a straight jacket and still he passed a background check. If schools and counselors didn't hide background information, maybe several of these bloody things would not have happened.

d nova said...

ok, we basically agree (except 4 clip-size issue, cuz i think a 10-shot limit in arizona wd've meant at least 9 fewer wounds). now all we need's a strategy. any suggestions?

Capt. Fogg said...

Here's the thing. We used to limit magazine size to 15 rounds, but it was silly to think it would have any effect since there was a 100 years supply of new and used "pre-ban" items out there - and then there's the fact that this guy wasn't into obeying laws in the first place. The 10 or 5 or 15 shot limit can't be enforced in advance of a crime being committed. Afterwards? who cares?

My thought was that if he simply bought two guns, he would have had twice the rate of fire and would have been even more deadly.

There is, in my opinion, a lot of statistical proof that this kind of approach has no effect whatever on gun violence.

d nova said...

at the risk of getting hung up on non-essentials, i'll simply re-state my belief that fewer people would've been hit by loughner if he'd had a 10-round magazine instead of a 33-round.

but that's not my point. what i want is a strategy to get passage and enforcement of effective background checks and databases, including meaningful penalties against sellers who break such laws.

i know criminals and nutjobs will try to get weapons. more laws against them may very well be useless. the laws have to get aimed at the sellers.

again, any strategy suggestions?

Capt. Fogg said...

Well Illinois instituted a policy years ago requiring a Gun Owners ID Card, which included a background check. Had no real effect, probably because the checks required more work than anyone was willing to pay for.

One of the problems of needing more regulation is that the you know who's don't want to pay for anything.

I think a background check card backed by an adequate data base would be a help, but it's very hard to protect against a very rare occurrence and people always want to address the one in a million and ignore the majority of crimes.

On the whole legal gun owners have a better safety record than legal car owners.

d nova said...

fine. most legal gun owners have good records. so do most dealers. it's the exceptions that need work.

here's 2 cases that a good law would put out of business:

Crime guns purchased at D & R Arms, Portsmouth, Va.

The "time to crime" metric is one of the benchmarks developed by the ATF to help identify criminal diversion of weapons based upon how quickly they were recovered after they were sold. The quicker a gun is recovered after it is sold, the greater the likelihood that the original buyer had criminal intent, studies have found. Nationwide, guns seized and successfully traced on average have been on the streets for more than 10 years before recovery.

D & R had relatively few guns recovered in its first 10 years of business. Starting in 2004, the dealer had a surge of traces.


Realco guns tied to 2,500 crimes in D.C. and Maryland

Dixon's Glock was one of 86 guns sold by Realco that have been linked to homicide cases during the past 18 years, far outstripping the total from any other store in the region, a Washington Post investigation has found. Over that period, police have recovered more than 2,500 guns sold by the shop, including over 300 used in non-fatal shootings, assaults and robberies.


Capt. Fogg said...

I think the law is already in place, but it's being thwarted in fatal ways.

The question is whether there's some laxity on the part of those dealers or whether the high number of sales to those with criminal intent results from a dysfunctional background check system in their area. If these dealers are not using it properly, if they're boosting sales by cheating, if the local authorities are not bothering to actually check their records, their breaking existing law.

We have a number of good laws that fail because they're not supported. The background check system is one of them. Without some effort to upgrade the databases, without adequate police department cooperation, it cannot work well, but of course that applies to everything. I think nationwide cutbacks in staff are going to allow all kinds of things to slither past the law.

My point, if I still have one at this stage, is that laws don't prevent anything by themselves or enforce themselves and too often the liberal approach has been not only illiberal, but fatally naive.