The gay community has long had to deal with lists of reasons why homosexuality is wrong. We've gotten good at debunking those reasons. So it is good to see Paul Waldman of The American Prospect do similar duty to the top ten arguments gun advocates make.
* Now is not the time to talk about gun control. Something about we would politicize it. That means the days following Hurricane Sandy is not the time to talk about disaster preparedness and climate change.
* Guns don't kill people, people kill people. We don't see mass shootings in Japan or Britain because they don't have easy access to guns. My summary: People who don't have guns don't kill people.
* Arm everyone and civilians could take out shooters. Even trained officers kill bystanders in the chaos of the situation. A teacher with a couple hours training does not become a marksman. I heard recently about a safety officer on the scene during a school shooting in Tennessee (a few years ago). The officer said from the time the shooting began until he grabbed the weapon was 12 seconds. And still three students were dead.
* We need to enforce the law we have. Funding for police keeps getting cut, so who will do the enforcing? Existing laws are so full of loopholes as to be meaningless.
* Criminals will find a way to get guns so why bother? There's no other problem for which we'd say if we can't solve it completely and forever we shouldn't even try.
* The Constitution says I have a right to guns. True. But all other rights have limits. Free speech does not include slander. We gladly give up other rights for safety. We don't grumble too loudly when taking off shoes for the airport security check.
* Widespread gun ownership prevents tyranny. Mature democracies are not constantly overthrown by despots. We shouldn't base laws on conspiracy theories.
* Guns are a part of American culture. So was slavery and we got rid of that.
* Americans don't want more gun control. Read any polls lately? Even gun owners want restrictions.
* "Having movie theaters and schools full of kids periodically shot up is just a price we should be willing to pay if it means I get to play with guns and pretend I'm Wyatt Earp." You never hear them say that but it is the one true statement in the bunch.
Robert Shrum of The Daily Beast says we are being held hostage by the NRA -- the National Rampage Association. Now is the time to talk about gun control.
My dad sent me a link to the following article. He says he got it from the Facebook page of one of my nephews-in-law. I don't know whether the link comes with a shout of affirmation or a cry of anguish (I don't do Facebook, and no, Dad, you don't need to check for me).
The post is a long one and is by Larry Correia. He's a best selling author now, but before then he was active in the gun culture. He has become an expert on gun-control laws, has trained legions of gun owners, and has worked with law enforcement to train them in Use of Force scenarios and in how mass shooters think. His accomplishments are long and he spells it all out to make sure we know he isn't simply someone with an uninformed opinion. He knows his stuff. Even so, he clearly says it is his opinion about what our response to the Newtown shooting should be. Highlights:
Teachers should be armed.
The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again.Correia clarifies that the squeamish (like me) need not apply. He has taught teachers and only want volunteers. But a handful of volunteers in a school could make a difference.
The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started.
I am a teacher and would most definitely not be a volunteer. Yet, my classroom is at the end of a hallway filled with practice rooms and most of the time they are empty. We're by ourselves. I can't imagine any of the other faculty in the department agreeing to pack heat. It would take Campus Safety a while to arrive (the same problem Correia has with police). Now the campus is sponsored by Catholic nuns known for pacifism, but we are in Detroit. Within the last two years (on a day I wasn't there) the campus leadership warned the staff about gunfire in a nearby neighborhood.
So in Correia's world, where does that leave me and my students? And why is a loss of 2-3 victims acceptable?
At a recent lunch of friends from church the subject of guns, especially the idea of arming teachers, came up. One man, who had been a high school assistant principle, just laughed.
Correia also talks about how gun-free zones mean only shooters have guns. He then discusses the media's role from the point of view of the perpetrator. The shooter wants to be the star of the drama, famous throughout the world -- famous enough even the president notices. And the media obliges. Perhaps the media should not report on the identity of the shooter and our obsession over him. I've heard this idea before and it makes sense.
Correia is wise enough not to comment on the mental health of the perpetrators. He's not a psychologist, though he has studied them enough to understand how they operate. He just wishes the rest of us as uninformed about guns would be similarly constrained.
Correia reviews gun control laws.
Ban automatic weapons. These are the ones that keep shooting as long as the finger has pulled the trigger. Done. Back in 1934 they had to be registered. That registry closed in 1986 with no new legal machine guns since then. But that doesn't stop criminals from getting or making them.
Ban semi-automatic guns. With each pull of the trigger a bullet is fired and another loaded in place. That means pretty much all guns. Including those for self-defense.
Ban handguns. These are the tools of self defense, used only because they can be concealed.
Ban assault rifles. Define that term. Either a feature in previous definitions is cosmetic or is so common it would mean banning all guns.
Ban magazines with more than x bullets. (1) It also bans them for the good guys who may face multiple assailants. (2) The good guys shoot to make the assailant stop, not to kill him, and it may take a lot of bullets to do that. (3) The bad guy will either have multiple guns or have practiced his scenario so he can reload quickly and out of range. (4) Magazines holding lots of bullets are easy to make. (5) Reserving big magazines for police use is meaningless because bad guys will get them. (6) When bullet count in a magazine is limited the bad guys make sure each bullet is more potent, the caliber of the gun bigger.
Conclusion: Bans don't work. Bad guys (and gun nuts) will get guns anyway. Every threat of a ban boosts sales. Obama is considered the top gun salesman. But bans do prevent the good guys from having guns.
Correia continues: You don't need assault weapons for hunting. Maybe. But the 2nd Amendment isn't about hunting.
Ban all guns.
But they are used more to stop crime than cause crime. Producing a gun is frequently enough. It doesn't need to be fired. Criminals want easy prey and when the victim produces a gun that becomes too much work. Correia quotes one estimate of 2.5M defensive uses of a gun in a year. Sound high? The Brady Center (a group that wants to ban guns) estimates 108K defensive uses. That is compared to 10K gun related deaths in an year.
Correia does not go into the situation when a good, but inexperienced, guy produces a gun and the bad guy uses it against the good guy. This is one big reason why I don't want a gun. I would be too reluctant to use it, increasing the chance I would be the one harmed by any shooting.
Gun bans in other countries (Australia, England, Norway) may have decreased mass shootings, but they have only increased violent crime. Bad guys who don't have guns turn to explosives.
Attempting to confiscate guns after a ban would be "national suicide," according to Correia. Though he doesn't define that term I would guess it means the gun nuts would start a war on the rest of us.
The 2nd Amendment is archaic and should be repealed.
About half the country disagrees. The only way a repeal makes any difference is if it is followed by confiscation of existing guns. Yes, some would turn them in. Many would lie about owning them. But perhaps 800K would defend their guns with flying bullets. Now compare that with 700K cops nationwide. And guess which side the cops would take.
So how many people are you willing to have killed to confiscate all those guns and who will do the killing?
Let's do something about the culture of guns.
That would be tough because as more people carry concealed weapons the stigma has vanished. However, the culture of guns is personified by law enforcement. Though liberal leadership may want to do away with guns all it means is the regular police officers -- the ones having to face down the bad guys -- don't have enough training or weapons to deal with the bad guys. Repeat: Bad guys will have guns anyway. The solution is to make sure enough good guys have guns. So, yeah, the rant by the NRA Director -- the only response to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun -- is correct.
Correia has been stunned by the response to his post. He says it has been read by over 300K people, the post itself has over 2000 comments, and he has gotten hundreds more responses by email. It has made a big impact in the national discussion.
Yeah, all that is quite disappointing and discouraging. I don't want America to be a country where everyone feels they need to carry a gun. I don't want a country where there are 10K deaths a year from guns.
Perhaps all those guns are a symptom of a much deeper national (or worldwide) problem. Is that something we can work to fix?
Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic quotes from CNN:
A decreasing number of American gun owners own two-thirds of the nation's guns and as many as one-third of the guns on the planet -- even though they account for less than 1% of the world's population, according to a CNN analysis of gun ownership data.Hmm. Less than 1% of the world's population is less than 70 million. It may be small compared to the total population, but it is still a heckuva lot of people. But that doesn't invalidate Coates' conclusion:
To state the obvious, there is something more than self-defense at work here.Maybe everyone with more than one gun should be considered mentally ill and sent to therapy.
David Callahan of Policy Shop says we are all trumpeting individual rights. Conservatives are obsessed with individual freedom in economics and guns. But they ignore how unregulated capitalism leads to economic crashes. Progressives are obsessed with social and civil rights such as sexuality and due process. In turn they ignore such things as promiscuous men who walk away from their kids. But too much emphasis on rights and freedom comes at the expense of responsibility and community. The national conversation needs to shift to repeatedly stating that personal desires don't trump the common good.
Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend starts poking around what the problems behind gun control might be.
…our society is full of people who have no impulse control when it comes to anger and acting out — and those people have easy access to firearms and unfortunately feel the need to use them in circumstances that formerly resulted in a shouting match or fisticuffs. What is wrong with people and what in our culture is fomenting these hair-trigger, deadly reactions, many times steeped in substance abuse?Next she examines sociopaths. Are they born that way? There is some evidence. Also evidence that many are sociopaths at a young age. But they don't get the help they need (is there any?) because we as a society have decided it is inappropriate to assign such a label to a 9-year-old, no matter how accurate it may be. Such a label will ruin the child and the parents.
On to bullying. It is reaching epidemic levels. When it isn't counteracted in schools young bullies grow up to be workplace bullies. And workplace bullies are usually rewarded. Many become bosses and are prized for getting things done. But workers can't tolerate the stress and workplace violence is up. That has led to 21 states to introduce a Healthy Workplace Bill. Alas, it hasn't passed anywhere yet.
One of Pam's commenters, by the name of donbacon, looks at militarism. I would think this means the glorification of the military and the assumption that the use of the military is the answer to all problems. But it is actually more basic. From the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD):
Militarism is a value system that stresses the superiority of some people over others. . .Militarism derides cooperation, equality and nonviolence, and instead enforces strict hierarchical relationships.That means bullying is one aspect of militarism. And militarism sounds like it is a part of systems of power working to maintain that power.
Several months ago Jennifer Tyrrell became famous for being expelled as a Cub Scout den leader because she is a lesbian (with partner and raising kids). Tyrrell has joined Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents and her first post talks about her background. Because of poverty and constant moving, when she was young she and her brother were the perfect targets for bullies. But in 5th Grade, something snapped and she became the bully. It was a softball coach who reached out to her and helped her through her anger. Now she is an anti-bullying advocate (in addition to getting the Boy Scouts to change their anti-gay ways).
So, the answer to gun violence may not be gun control. Sigh. We may need guns in the hands of the good guys because the bad guys have so many.
But it appears there are a couple things we can work on. (1) Stress the balance between rights and responsibility and between the individual and community. (2) Work to replace militarism with cooperation, equality, and nonviolent resolutions to conflicts and do this in schools and the workplace.
Let's get started. We've got a new year to work in.