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Old 02-17-2013, 10:02 AM   #1
Charles Kozierok
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Default Why Our Gun Debate Is Off Target

A piece that might surprise some from the WSJ. Quite balanced and rather interesting... and pretty much where I am on this issue.

It was posted in P&N this morning but it took only a couple of dozen replies to degenerate into irrational responses and insults, so I'm reposting it here to see if we can do better.

The article is long and it moves back and forth, so it's worth reading, but a few quotes:

Quote:
Believe it or not, what's missing from the current shout-fest over guns and gun control is the voice of gun owners.
...
As for those on the gun-control side, they often go beyond calling for policy changes, about which reasonable people can disagree, and issue broad-brush insults that aren't acceptable in other contexts. When sportscaster Bob Costas blames "gun culture" for the murder-suicide of an NFL linebacker, gun owners say, "Wait a minute. I'm gun culture. And my guns haven't hurt anybody."

A lot of assumptions are made about gun owners, by the NRA and gun-control proponents alike. What nobody ever seems to do, though, is listen to them.
...
Although I did my best to avoid gun politics, the subject came up constantly. What came through loudest of all was that gun guys feel insulted. The caustic and routine dismissal of "gun culture" is only part of it. Gun guys look at the most strident advocates of gun control and say, "You know nothing about what it means to handle guns, but you presume to make judgments about my ability to do so."

From Arizona to Michigan, I found America full of working people who won't listen to Democrats about anything because of the party's identification with gun control. A parks-and-recreation worker in Wisconsin told me he was offended by the Democrats' view "that guns are for the unwashed, the yokels." It's hard to think of a better organizing tool for the right than the left's tribal antipathy to guns.
...
But my fellow gun guys have plenty to answer for, too. We don't live in a vacuum. Our guns affect everybody, and the non-gun-owning public has a right to expect things to improve. More than ever, after the transformative horror of Sandy Hook, the old defensive crouch is inadequate. If gun culture is to survive, gun guys need to get in the game. If we want to hold on to our guns, we need to be part of the solution.
...
The wrongest of wrong hands for guns aren't necessarily those of criminals but of curious children and depressed teenagers. Accidental child death is one of the few gun statistics that has grown worse since 1999. Teenage gun suicide is a lot lower than it was in 1999, but it's still heartbreakingly high. Almost half the teenagers who kill themselves do it with a gun, and, unlike those who try it with pills, car exhaust, razorblades, or a rope, they almost always succeed.

Where are those children and teenagers getting the guns? Not from gun stores, thanks to age minimums. Not from gun shows, either, unless they're getting an adult to buy them. And not from some murky "illegal gun market." They're getting them, by and large, from adults who leave them around, where immature hands can find them.
...
We gun guys are operating under a double standard. We want to be left alone to buy, use and carry guns because, we say, we understand firearms better than any bureaucrat. But at the same time, enough of us behave so carelessly that thousands of people are needlessly killed, injured or victimized every year by guns left lying around.
...
Gun guys are right to object to government officials who propose sweeping gun controls without understanding guns. But until they take responsibility for the gun violence that so frightens their fellow citizens, they're setting themselves up for more regulation. Taking collective responsibility for social problems is not the same thing as knuckling under to a tyrannical government. In fact, it's the opposite.
The bottom line: gun owners have to speak up, take responsibility for themselves, and stop allowing people like Wayne LaPierre to be seen as representing them, when he does not. People are tired of Newtowns and of 7-year-olds picking up unsecured guns and killing or maiming themselves. Ignoring this issue, or being one of the extremists who says "NO TO ANY CHANGES!" just increases the likelihood of onerous gun control laws being passed in the future.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:13 AM   #2
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As I said in that thread, the opinion is good as far as it goes, but there has been significant, responsible resistance to the SAFE act in NY, with a majority of counties trying to make themselves heard without resorting to antics. Where are the articles about that? I shouldn't be surprised if the NY paper knows. We'll see if we get anywhere, but the papers love the NRA, the rest of us not so much.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:18 AM   #3
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I think I mentioned somewhere that there were dueling pro- and anti- protests in Albany a week or so ago, which I heard about on the radio. The group against the bill was much larger than the one supporting it.

A quick search this morning found this. But I agree, it's not being talked about much. It's New York state, after all.

I think that's kind of the point of the article, in a way -- reasonable gun owners, the 95%+ of them who don't belong to the NRA, need to get involved in the process. If they don't, there will just be more bannings and silly capacity restrictions (7 cartridges?)
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:49 AM   #4
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The problem with states like New York much is determined by the populous living in the large cities and those living in the rural areas lose their voice in any argument between the two. Most of the people I know that live in Upstate or Southern Tier believe no matter how much they try to have a meaningful debate the outcome will be determined by liberals politicians as well as the cities of NYC and Albany
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Londo_Jowo View Post
The problem with states like New York much is determined by the populous living in the large cities and those living in the rural areas lose their voice in any argument between the two. Most of the people I know that live in Upstate or Southern Tier believe no matter how much they try to have a meaningful debate the outcome will be determined by liberals politicians as well as the cities of NYC and Albany
agreed
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:15 AM   #6
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The problem with states like New York much is determined by the populous living in the large cities and those living in the rural areas lose their voice in any argument between the two.
Quite correct. And one of the reasons I live in a state with no major population center.

The same thing happens in other states. I remember when I lived in MA, hearing snark along the lines that the politicians thought the state ended at I-495.
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Old 02-17-2013, 07:34 PM   #7
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But Wayne LaPierre does speak for me.

Since CA and NY are "special needs" cases when it comes to the rights of law-abiding gun owners, lets use Colorado. Here's what is making headway in their state legislature:

HB1224: Banning standard capacity magazines - another emotion-driven ban to make moms feel better about themselves, while driving out a locally-grown, world-renowned manufacturer of standard capacity magazines and accessories (Magpul)

HB1226: No CCW on college campuses - aka preservation of shooting galleries for mentally unstable gunmen

HB1228: Fees for background checks - because we need more roadblocks between law-abiding citizens and free/easy instant online background checks

HB1229: Universal background checks - wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook or Aurora, but sure why not

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Old 02-18-2013, 07:47 AM   #8
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What I don't really understand is the outrage over guns and using the mass shootings as poster children. I don't own a gun and don't plan on it anytime soon but it really makes no sense to me.

I've said this before but just to add the sources behind my thinking:
In England, over 1,000 people die from falling down the stairs each year
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/790609.stm

Given that our population is over 6x their size I think its fair to conclude our deaths are somewhere along those lines at least

2012 - one of the worst years of mass shootings - 88 people were killed while the average is somewhere in the 20 a year range.
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec...ommon-20121218
I focus on the mass shootings as people only seem to really care about mass shootings. Not much national media coverage of the child shot in Detroit a couple of days ago. (Or if they do care about all killings then I really don't understand the argument as the weapon focus is completely off base. Assault weapons? You are far more likely to be shot with a handgun than an 'assault weapon')

So - by my thinking 20 people a year or even 88 people a year is not nearly high enough to start modifying a constitutional right in round about ways. I don't decide to avoid stairs for their risk and I don't see other people doing so. I still drive to work every day even though I have a far higher chance of dying in a car accident than a mass shooting. You rarely talk to someone who is scared about getting into a car even though I am willing to bet we all know someone who has been in a horrible car accident. This whole endeavor seems horribly misguided. To me its the poster child for the 'no one can ever be hurt and if something bad happens it's someones fault and the reason can be legislated away' society many seem to believe in.

This is not to say that changes can't be made. For example - I am all in favor of fixing the many issues the background database seems to have. But a lot of this strikes me as surrendering rights for the added illusion of safety
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Exterous View Post
What I don't really understand is the outrage over guns and using the mass shootings as poster children. I don't own a gun and don't plan on it anytime soon but it really makes no sense to me.

I've said this before but just to add the sources behind my thinking:
In England, over 1,000 people die from falling down the stairs each year
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/790609.stm

Given that our population is over 6x their size I think its fair to conclude our deaths are somewhere along those lines at least

2012 - one of the worst years of mass shootings - 88 people were killed while the average is somewhere in the 20 a year range.
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec...ommon-20121218
I focus on the mass shootings as people only seem to really care about mass shootings. Not much national media coverage of the child shot in Detroit a couple of days ago. (Or if they do care about all killings then I really don't understand the argument as the weapon focus is completely off base. Assault weapons? You are far more likely to be shot with a handgun than an 'assault weapon')

So - by my thinking 20 people a year or even 88 people a year is not nearly high enough to start modifying a constitutional right in round about ways. I don't decide to avoid stairs for their risk and I don't see other people doing so. I still drive to work every day even though I have a far higher chance of dying in a car accident than a mass shooting. You rarely talk to someone who is scared about getting into a car even though I am willing to bet we all know someone who has been in a horrible car accident. This whole endeavor seems horribly misguided. To me its the poster child for the 'no one can ever be hurt and if something bad happens it's someones fault and the reason can be legislated away' society many seem to believe in.

This is not to say that changes can't be made. For example - I am all in favor of fixing the many issues the background database seems to have. But a lot of this strikes me as surrendering rights for the added illusion of safety
But...but...we should scrap the Bill Of Rights for 300 million people if it might save even one child's life.
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:27 AM   #10
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What I don't really understand is the outrage over guns and using the mass shootings as poster children. I don't own a gun and don't plan on it anytime soon but it really makes no sense to me.
It's because they are big and flashy dramatic.

Same reason a plane crash that kills 300 people makes the news and prompts all sorts of inquiries and demands for change, while 30,000 people dying in car accidents every year gets ignored.

These shootings are emotionally evocative, and generate both legitimate desires to stop them, and also opportunities for gun rights opponents to push through legislation they'd want even if there were no mass shootings.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:19 AM   #11
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It's because they are big and flashy dramatic.

Same reason a plane crash that kills 300 people makes the news and prompts all sorts of inquiries and demands for change, while 30,000 people dying in car accidents every year gets ignored.

These shootings are emotionally evocative, and generate both legitimate desires to stop them, and also opportunities for gun rights opponents to push through legislation they'd want even if there were no mass shootings.
I don't think the problem is that they are big and flashy. I think the problem is that no perspective is provided or researched. No one really bothers to research an issue even a little bit. If balanced perspective is not provided on TV (usually within the same news segment) or on Facebook they don't get it. Its no wonder that no one bothers to dig into a source to vet it before using it to form or confirm their views. This is easily manipulated by those who want to forward their adgenda
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:43 AM   #12
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It's all driven by emotion. When 20 kids die, most people don't want to hear about "perspective" or "research". Say anything other than "OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE WE MUST DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!" and you get labeled a heartless jerk.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:57 AM   #13
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It's all driven by emotion. When 20 kids die, most people don't want to hear about "perspective" or "research". Say anything other than "OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE WE MUST DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!" and you get labeled a heartless jerk.
Perhaps - but I could easily see that reaction being a side effect of the lack of perspective fueled by the fire of media fearmongering. The more I think about it the more it seems as though its a self feeding cycle
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:05 AM   #14
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It's all driven by emotion. When 20 kids die, most people don't want to hear about "perspective" or "research". Say anything other than "OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE WE MUST DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!" and you get labeled a heartless jerk.
Of course another issue is that a lot of federal agencies have been explicitly barred from researching the causes and best methods of prevention of gun violence. This was lobbied for by the very same people who complain that methods being used are not effective.
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:23 PM   #15
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Why Our Gun Debate Is Off Target
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The bottom line: gun owners have to speak up, take responsibility for themselves, and stop allowing people like Wayne LaPierre to be seen as representing them, when he does not. People are tired of Newtowns and of 7-year-olds picking up unsecured guns and killing or maiming themselves. Ignoring this issue, or being one of the extremists who says "NO TO ANY CHANGES!" just increases the likelihood of onerous gun control laws being passed in the future.
In what way did LaPierre speak wrongly on the issue?

Our Gun Debate is off due to it focusing on guns, instead of the big picture. If one were to remove guns from the equation our society would still be violent. We would still be promoting it in our media and our entertainment, in our literature and our culture.

One does not become an American and escape the messaging of harming or killing other human beings. This saturation can be taken as promotion. Those who are vulnerable may not distinguish between condemning or condoning violence. They may simply see it, and in a moment of weakness, act on it.

I appreciate violence is natural and it'd occur without media saturation, but it must not be understated how common and popular the imagery is. How easy imitation becomes when you have populated a person's imagination.

I'm not calling for European style censorship - but if there's a discussion on violence it would be disingenuous to solely focus the means to an end. We have to focus on why they reached that end in the first place.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:02 PM   #16
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What are we 'normal' gun owners supposed to do to be heard?

And who says we haven't been. We're in polls all the time.

As far as kids getting their parents guns and accidentally killing themselves, there are already criminal penalties (manslaughter) for that.

I think the topic rather useless. You can't really legislate parenting, at least not effectively. You can only 'punish' when an accident happens. Kids drown in pools etc every day. Shall we outlaw pools and bathtubs? At some point this gets silly, no matter that the consequences are tragic.

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Old 02-18-2013, 07:07 PM   #17
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Say anything other than "OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE WE MUST DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!" and you get labeled a heartless jerk.
It's time people grow a pair and risk being called heartless jerks.

Be cold about it. We've lost a lot more than 20 of our sons and daughters preserving our freedoms in the United States over the course of our history. 20 dead kids in Newtown are tragic, but they're just more names on a long ledger tracking the conflict between good and evil.
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:13 PM   #18
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It's time people grow a pair and risk being called heartless jerks.
I did, and I was.

It felt good in a way. But it didn't accomplish a damned thing.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:58 AM   #19
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As far as kids getting their parents guns and accidentally killing themselves, there are already criminal penalties (manslaughter) for that.

I think the topic rather useless. You can't really legislate parenting, at least not effectively. You can only 'punish' when an accident happens. Kids drown in pools etc every day. Shall we outlaw pools and bathtubs? At some point this gets silly, no matter that the consequences are tragic.

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Did you just equate gun ownership with bathing?

You're right. That is silly.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:56 AM   #20
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Did you just equate gun ownership with bathing?

You're right. That is silly.
Things can be similar in some respects, and different in others.

No, gun ownership is not like bathing. But the pool analogy isn't that ridiculous. In both cases you have an item that people own for reasons that other people consider unimportant, in both cases a lot of tragic accidents happen, and in only one case do people call for severe restrictions in ownership.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:16 AM   #21
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Gun guys look at the most strident advocates of gun control and say, "You know nothing about what it means to handle guns, but you presume to make judgments about my ability to do so."
Truth.

I am not currently a gun owner (I may soon be), but I've shot all kinds of guns through the years, including fully automatic weapons (not here in the US). I am very familiar with guns. Not too long ago I had a short conversation on another website with a congresswoman who wants to ban assault rifles because they are "military weapons designed to kill as many people possible in a short period of time". I pointed out than an assault weapons ban does not ban military fully-automatic weapons, which are already banned, it just addresses the cosmetic details of a firearm. It bans scary looking guns. Because they look scary. It's really ridiculous. It changes absolutely nothing and was obviously ineffective last time it was tried.

One thing I hear people say a lot: "What reason is there for someone to need an assault weapon?" Or, "why does someone need a high-capacity magazine?" I have never heard such an unAmerican statement. Why do I need it? Let's ban something because you can't understand why I need it? The constitution explicitly limits the government's ability to disarm the citizens. I should never need to explain why I need it.

On the bright side I find it really scary that these lawmakers are passing laws on things they obviously do not know anything about. These are not military weapons. OMG it's scary looking, let's ban it! These people are destroying the constitution based on their clueless assumptions.

On the not-so-bright side, they are knowingly playing on the emotion of Sandy Hook, Aurora, etc, and trying to shove through their agenda-based legislation at a time when people might not fight them on it. They are KNOWINGLY shredding the constitution in their never-ending thirst for more power and control.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:34 AM   #22
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Things can be similar in some respects, and different in others.

No, gun ownership is not like bathing. But the pool analogy isn't that ridiculous. In both cases you have an item that people own for reasons that other people consider unimportant, in both cases a lot of tragic accidents happen, and in only one case do people call for severe restrictions in ownership.
Actually, from a quick google search, there are already a lot of regulations in place regarding how pools are built and maintained. I won't say which is easier to do between obtaining a firearm and building a pool with regards to regulations, as I'm sure that depends a lot on the individual circumstances.

Personally, I'd be more comfortable with the pool comparison if people were only buying guns for entertainment purposes. But since many posit that they are for security, and are not toys, then comparing it to a pool doesn't hold up for me.

In the very narrow context you made, sure, compare away... but for me that's so limited as to only highlight how poor the comparison is in the first place.


EDIT: Additionally, it looks like there are even more pool regulations these days like pools including alarms and other measures to prevent unsupervised use by children. Go figure.

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Old 02-19-2013, 10:58 AM   #23
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Actually, from a quick google search, there are already a lot of regulations in place regarding how pools are built and maintained. I won't say which is easier to do between obtaining a firearm and building a pool with regards to regulations, as I'm sure that depends a lot on the individual circumstances.

Personally, I'd be more comfortable with the pool comparison if people were only buying guns for entertainment purposes. But since many posit that they are for security, and are not toys, then comparing it to a pool doesn't hold up for me.

In the very narrow context you made, sure, compare away... but for me that's so limited as to only highlight how poor the comparison is in the first place.


EDIT: Additionally, it looks like there are even more pool regulations these days like pools including alarms and other measures to prevent unsupervised use by children. Go figure.
A large and fundamental difference between pools and guns is that the constitution does not explicitly limit the governments ability to police the pools.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:04 AM   #24
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A large and fundamental difference between pools and guns is that the constitution does not explicitly limit the governments ability to police the pools.
For now. Ammendments can go either way.

But you also just made my point for me that the comparison is a poor one.
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:23 PM   #25
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Did you just equate gun ownership with bathing?

You're right. That is silly.
I equated two types of accidental deaths of children by objects that are inherently dangerous. The parents lack of control over those objects, or proper supervision of children when around those objects, is what results in the accidental deaths.

So, yes, they are sufficiently similar to serve my point.

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