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Gun Safety Is Important - And We Are Still Failing To Act

Category: Guns
Posted: 11/07/17 08:28

by Dave Mindeman

The myriad of gun trolls that pervade the internet dismiss any argument about gun safety with a blizzard of arguments that never seem to center on what guns do.

The argument they make is that if you don't know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic weapon, then you have no business in the debate.


Do semi-automatic and automatic weapons both kill? Do they kill large numbers of people in a short period of time? What else do we need to know? The technicalities (and there are many) that gun manufacturers have placed on the mechanics and nuances of the various weapons in this country are meant to distort what the real debate happens to be. And that debate is essentially, how do we keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

The NRA and gun activists oppose any changes in any method of weapons restriction. We cannot have a CDC study on guns. We cannot ban weapons from those on the no-fly list. We cannot have an effective registry because the lobbyists refuse to allow proper records to be maintained.

Here is the main example:

The ATF's record-keeping system lacks certain basic functionalities standard to every other database created in the modern age. Despite its vast size, and importance to crime fighters, it is less sophisticated than an online card catalog maintained by a small town public library.

To perform a search, ATF investigators must find the specific index number of a former dealer, then search records chronologically for records of the exact gun they seek. They may review thousands of images in a search before they find the weapon they are looking for. That's because dealer records are required to be "non-searchable" under federal law. Keyword searches, or sorting by date or any other field, are strictly prohibited.

Records still can be found - but the intention is to make it slow and difficult. How effective are background checks going to be if records are maintained this way?

The recent "error" by the Air Force about the Texas shooter is, yet, another example of how reports on guns are not taking seriously. The NRA lobbies Congress to make things as difficult as possible.

And then there is the merging of gun records and mental health records.

Even though federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to certain individuals with a history of mental illness, history has shown that it's still too easy for dangerous people experiencing a mental health crisis to obtain firearms. Currently, laws are in place that require licensed dealers (but not unlicensed sellers) to conduct a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm to screen out these and other prohibited purchasers.

However, federal law cannot require states to make information identifying these people available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks, and many states fail to voluntarily report the necessary records to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), especially with respect to people prohibited from possessing guns for mental health reasons. As a result, some individuals known to be dangerous can pass background checks and obtain firearms.

You would think that we could make these processes easier and more straightforward. But under the watchful eye of the NRA, all of these methods of maintaining records are made difficult, restricted and in some cases simply ignored by the various states - especially deep red ones.

At some point, we have to decide what type of legislator do we want to make decisions on the laws regarding guns.

What we have now is just woefully inadequate and it has made America less safe than other developed countries. Terrorism has certainly given us a set of difficult problems - but compound that with dangerous people obtaining military style weapons in a retail setting - well, I think you know what that means.

The last mass killing with a gun in Australia led to gun bans and actual confiscation. They have not had a major incident since. Weapons are highly restrictive in Europe and ownership in Japan is minimal.

We, not only have the worst record on mass killings of any other industrialized country, but we are the only nation that pushes for less control on weapons rather than more.

Nobody advocates doing what Australia did. But there are common sense measures that can work if allowed to and there is public support to do just that.

Guns are never going away in America. And that is fine. But they are dangerous and public safety demands that we address that.

Technical arguments about guns don't matter - safety does.
comments (3) permalink

Sensible Gun Laws - Now

Category: Guns
Posted: 10/03/17 14:45

by Dave Mindeman

Whenver I talk about guns, the gun nut trolls are usually all over it. And they never argue about the policy - no, they concentrate on my lack of technical expertise about guns. It seems that only those who subscribe to Guns and Ammo are allowed a voice at the table. Because we have to know the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons...about trigger locks...silencers...range...caliber...that sort of thing.

Well, I don't have that expertise. Never owned a gun in my life and I don't intend to...and I am not going to waste my time delving into the gun nut world of gadgets and gizmos.

All I care about is that guns in the hands of any one person can make a decision to kill other human beings. Yes, the gun is only an object...and it is harmless unless used for harm. But the gun culture created in this country is toxic. I keep going back to the fact that no other industrialized country has the level of gun problems that we do. And it doesn't have to be that way.

The 2nd Amendment does not have to be repealed. It doesn't need to be changed. But it does need to have appropriate, common sense gun laws associated with it. There is no Constitutional obstacle to gun restrictions. Gun use has to be defined for the purposes of public safety. We do not have the right to shoot anybody. There are laws regarding self defense, but they vary from state to state. You have the right to own a gun. You have the right to use it for self defense - but you are also obligated to adhere to the rules of public safety as legislated.

But we also have to deal with the ugly truth that gun laws are always under attack and are always granted loopholes that gun manufacturers work for and exploit.

This latest incident in Las Vegas should incite national outrage. The shooter modified his weaponry....

The speed, pattern and inconsistent rate of gunfire heard in videos of the Las Vegas shooting indicate the suspect could have used cheap and legal modification devices to accelerate the firing of a semi-automatic weapon to almost 700 rounds a minute. And the kinds of devices that would make that possible are readily available -- relatively cheaply on the internet -- even to people who can't qualify to buy an automatic weapon.

This is ridiculous. The gun industry finds mechanical methods to make firepower more lethal and cause more deaths. Deaths that are a direct result of gun manufacturer obsessions with circumventing legal gun restrictions.

It is also disturbing that gun manufacturers and their lobbying arm, the NRA, use hunters and sportspersons as virtual human shields for their non-sports firearms and the resulting carnage from misuse.

They convince the recreational hunter that any gun restriction is a slippery slope into regulations that will take away their right to own a gun and hunt. That is a bald face lie and they know it. They count on recruiting hunters into their membership to pick up this false narrative and strengthen their lobbying position.

There are some basic gun regulations that make common sense - will not damage the second amendment - and can make us all safer. But we have to directly take on the gun lobby to make it happen. That is hard but it is also a moral imperative.

For example- Universal background checks gets high marks in public polling. Yet, we cannot get this passed without loopholes. It should be a no-brainer that any gun sale (and I do mean ANY) should require a background check on the purchaser. And by that I mean any on-line sale, any gun show sale, and any sale to Uncle Bob or Grandpappy Amos. Any sale anywhere is not legal without a certified background check.

Is that so hard to understand? Do I have to know about the caliber of a firearm to support background checks?

As for these gadgets that increase firepower for legal weapons.... why can they just be sold without some kind of review from a panel of gun experts? Why is this kind of loophole sanctioned? Everything to do with a gun should be subject to a consumer test - to make sure it is useful and not lethal.

Background check information needs to be upgraded with more sophisticated systems. To be made as error free as possible. And the data base must be current at all times.

The biggest fear of the gun nut is the idea of some kind of universal government registry. Although that would be useful, an argument can be made that the 2nd Amendment might restrict that kind of use. Other countries do not have to worry about this - just us. But we don't need a universal registry - what we do need is a means to keep guns out of the hands of people who will do themselves harm or harm to others.

This doesn't have to be hard, but it is. It is an American tradition to make gun arguments impossible to resolve. Gun toters, by nature, seem to be susceptible to any kind of conspiracy theory imaginable. The gun industry depends on it, because they make half of them up.

But if we are to find a way to reduce the level of violence in this country, then responsible gun laws will have to be fought for at every government level.

No matter how hard it will be - we must begin - now.
comments (1) permalink

An Historical Look At The 2nd Amendment

Category: Guns
Posted: 10/02/17 22:08

by Dave Mindeman

Guns in America is one very complicated topic. But this complexity only seems to appear here. Other Western countries don't have mass shootings as a matter of course. They still happen, but are unique in that they are so rare in places like Denmark or England or Australia.

Other countries also do not have a 2nd Amendment ensnared in their Constitutions and when gun situations turn massively violent, they address it with solid, specific legislation.

We do not have that luxury.

Gun manufacturers have weaponized this part of our Bill of Rights. And over time the Supreme Court has been deciding cases in favor of gun rights activism. The NRA and gun lobby have amassed fortunes in political capital meant to ram their legislative agenda through a Congress beholden to them.

The Second Amendment was clearly controversial right from the beginning. In 1788, Congress was debating how it would maintain a national army, and having just overthrown the yoke of a repressive England, Patrick Henry made the following argument:

"Let me here call your attention to that part [Article 1, Section 8 of the proposed Constitution] which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. . . .

"By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defence is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither . . . this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory."

Henry argued that neglect of this Congressional power could leave the various states defenseless. Thus the idea of state militias was brokered as a means to ensure defense of the people.

However, Henry then went on to reveal the real reason for state "protection"....

"In this state (VA)," he said, "there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. . . . May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free."

Henry argued that, under the right circumstances, southern blacks could be emancipated by drafting them into the national army and leave the states no choice to object and without their own defense if other slaves decided to rebel.

Henry also had other fears...

Patrick Henry was also convinced that the power over the various state militias given the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave-patrol militias. He knew the majority attitude in the North opposed slavery, and he worried they'd use the Constitution to free the South's slaves (a process then called "Manumission" ).

In other words, the south was worried that a national army would not be incentivized to put down slave insurrections.

So, once the Constitution was completed - the Bill of Rights included that 2nd Amendment provision to ensure slavery would not be interfered with and give states the right to maintain their own methods of enforcement.

Of course, the original thought process has been lost to the ages. And gun lobbies have placed their own interpretation over and above the arguments of the Founding Fathers.

Madison's first draft of the 2nd Amendment was worded this way...

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person."

But George Mason and Patrick Henry insisted on a language change - and thus the final 2nd Amendment appeared...

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

And all of those gun rights trolls were born.
comments (0) permalink


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