Posted: 12/05/15 13:54
by Dave Mindeman
My conversation with a conservative blogger and gun rights activist (Mitch Berg) has given me a lot of things to consider and think about. At least the dialogue has been policy based and that is a good thing.
But I'd like to discuss a few of the ideas put forward....
1. Violent crime is down sharply
Mitch wanted to make sure this was clear...and it is correct. Violent crime is down from 20 years ago. He noted a Pew Research study that stated this and the dates involved were between 1993 and 2013. The notoriety of the mass shootings that have been so prevalent lately has masked or distorted this statistic. But it is also worth noting that 1993 was the peak.. the Brady Bill passed in 1993 and the Assault Weapons Ban passed in 1994. According to Pew, 1993 had 7 firearm deaths per 100,000 population. It dropped down to 3.8 by 2001, but has remained fairly constant since that time. It is worth noting that the Assault Weapons ban expired in 2004. Of course, it is hard to correlate any direct cause and effect analogy, but with the advent of the Brady Bill, background checks became law. Would universal background checks be better? You decide.
2. "The "355 mass shootings" statistic is a canard."
At least that is what Mitch is telling me. He doesn't dispute the idea that there may have been 355 incidents in which 3 or more people were shot, but he believes it is a distortion to count "drug deals gone bad, gang-bangers killing off rivals, bar fights gone bad, crimes between people who know each other".. I'm not sure why these horrific events should be classified as not relevant - it is still guns. I don't care what the reasons (if there can be valid reasons) are for these incidents - but the common factor is weapons are in use and the people using them have no hesitation to keep shooting.
3. "The vast majority of mass shootings AND terror attacks are *planned* to take place where nobody can resist".
This is a favorite point for gun advocates. They love to talk about gun free zones being sought out by mass shooters. I have looked at several studies that look at this issue specifically...and there are studies that make claims both ways. A few mass shooters have sought out a "gun free zone" but the evidence seems to indicate that it is generally a non-factor. That seeking such a location is not part of the planning. John R. Lott, a gun advocate, put together a deeply flawed study which indicated gun free zones are always sought by mass shooters. But his data was so selective as to be held meaningless. The flawed studies go the other way as well. I think it is just another gun rights talking point that has been latched onto to enhance the talking points. Do you know what places are "gun free zones"? I don't.
4. And the "Gun show loophole" is a chanting point. There IS no "gun show loophole...the "Gun show loophole" refers to private transfers - outside gun shows, between private individuals.
I have to respectfully disagree. Gun shows have some private dealers that are not subject to Federal jurisdiction. The states make the regulations and they vary as widely as the NRA influence will allow. But, frankly, private, local transfers ARE a problem. There is no way to know about these transactions....and "family" transfers can have a pretty broad definition. As far as I am concerned, ALL gun sales need to go through the proper legal requirements. If you are going to have a private sale, then it needs to go through a licensed dealer as an intermediary.
5. The "watch" and "no fly" lists are secret lists, compiled by a process that is utterly opaque by law and has no due process to get on or off. Entire groups can be put on the list with no knowledge, and little reason.
I can agree with "no due process" aspect of that statement. But even though a list might be wrong, there are still a number of people on that list that are on there for a good reason. Stopping them from flying, but letting them purchase a gun just sounds crazy. And even if there are a few people on that list by mistake, why is stopping a gun purchase the bridge too far? I realize that correcting that mistake will be hard, but they should be trying to fix it - and having gun purchases correlate directly with that only makes sense.
I do not own a gun. I do not know the details of weapons and ammunition. Yes, I am probably susceptible to disinformation....but we have to acknowledge that this country has a disproportional problem. I have no desire to take guns away. And I don't wish to stop legal purchases.
I know that criminals will still find a way to get a gun, but that is why we have law enforcement. However, it would be nice if we didn't add to that police burden with suicide investigations, lethal domestic violence, mental illness shootings, etc...etc. There are things we can prevent or make more difficult.
We don't just have to accept what we have now. It needs to be addressed. Absolutely.