Monday, March 30, 2009

Episode 47: Guns Don’t Kill People

033009.0145



It’s true. Guns are tools. And it’s the people who spray innocent bystanders with rounds from automatic assault weapons who kill people.

After hearing the argument from the NRA that banning assault weapons only affects law abiding citizens, because a killer will kill whether or not there is a ban on assault guns is very ridiculous. I have believed for a long time that the 2nd amendment is outdated and needs to be refined for modern times, as an organized police force has eliminated the need to maintain a militia. Still, if there are some who want guns for hunting, isn’t the use of an AK-47 to kill an elk overkill? Or an M-16 to spray down a flock of geese? Police officers are generally not armed to the teeth like that; they carry 9mm pistols, and possibly a rifle or shotgun. There is absolutely no need for a civilian to require that much firepower. It only takes one round from even the most inaccurate pistol to kill someone for the sake of “protecting your home.”

I feel doubly strong about this after Secretary Hilary Clinton gave her thought on the drug war in Mexico. It is refreshing to see a government that acknowledges its part in creating the problem. My feelings on how to deal with the drug war is best left for another post, however, the banning of assault weapons in the US will play a part in reducing the access to deadly those weapons via smuggling.

Here is my proposal: if we *must* keep assault weapons on the streets, then the punishment for killing someone with one should be severe. I’m thinking 3 consecutive life sentences for each person killed by the assailant’s gun. Or, since the economy has tanked, perhaps we should issue an 85% tax on automatic rifle ammunition?
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22 comments: on "Episode 47: Guns Don’t Kill People"

conservative generation said...

tL,

No surprise, we have some agreements and some disagreements on this issue. However, I am always glad to see you are closer to center than most progressives.

Normally, I'd agree about the lack of need for assault weapons. However, your pointing out the drug war, in my opinion, is an argument for them. If there was a drug war going on in my neighborhood and the drug lords had rocket launchers and assault riffles, I wouldn't mind having my own "little friend."

I feel the need to update you on the 2nd amendment, because intentions are just as important as the language. The idea of the 2nd amendment was not that everyone has a right to a gun and should have militias. It was that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and the second amendment was intended to provide means for the people to protect these rights. Let's say George Bush was coming to every citizen's home to steal your food to feed the rich. Clearly, Bush in this instance is trying to subject the masses to his tyranny. However, by citizens owning guns, though not necessarily the Rambo machine gun, it at least makes George Bush think twice about knocking on your door to take your food. It's another check in the relationship of government and it's citizens.

If that's not compelling enough. I live in a rural poor area. I know people that feed themselves over the winter via hunting deer. Taking thier gun would threaten the availability of food for their family.

My last point is that I disagree with Clinton's remarks. Let's take her statement and apply it elsewhere to see if it holds up. Let's say there is a war in Australia to obtain control of the grape fields that make superb wines. Are American's responsible because they drink wine? I'm not giving a pass to drug users, but America taking responsibility is a very broad brush. I know that I have personnally not contributed to the conflict, I'm sure there are many more. Other countries have also purchased drugs, why is America to blame where other countries that have drug use are not?

I agree with your proposal for strict prison terms for deaths from assault weapons.

Del Patterson said...

Hey, I won't bother you with the verbage of the 2nd Amendment. Look closely...very closely and note the comma placement. The supremes have been arguing over these commas for years.
Sorry, I completely disagree with Con Generation's comment about the 2nd amendment backing up the concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nope! Those 3 ideals are found in the Dec. of Ind. and were never mentioned as a rationale for the 2nd in the Constitution. And the Supremes have never deal with inferences in the Constitution save the "Elastic Clause" or the "necessary and proper clause"

spavery said...

Nuclear and chemical weapons don't kill people, MEN with nuclear and chemical weapons kill people. The Second Amendment guarantees that I HAVE THE RIGHT TO ANNIHILATE THE HUMAN RACE to protect myself. I have an array of chemical and nuclear weapons in my closet, just waiting...

The Law said...

C Gen,

I think you may have misunderstood my stance slightly -- The problem is not gun violence in America as much as it is the smuggling of (legal) guns *to* Mexico which fans the flames of the drug war.

I still firmly maintain that there is absolutley no need for assault weapons (or super powered WMDs ;-] ). You also refered to gun use for hunting, and I am no hunter, but from what I've seen on ESPN 2, a bow and arrow is sufficient to kill a deer for dinner. I can't imagine a senario where one would need to spray atuomatic fire in the woods to kill an animal.

"The idea of the 2nd amendment was not that everyone has a right to a gun and should have militias. It was that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and the second amendment was intended to provide means for the people to protect these rights."

This notion is as red as it gets, and predates the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The notion that is someone is breaking the law we can "take law into our own hands." This is one of the biggest hypocracies in American social justice.

The inner city streets, as any gangster will tell you, is a tough tough place. Everytime you leave your home in some neighborhoods, there is no guarantee you'll make it back in one piece, or alive. So people carry guns to protect themselves. On the outside looking in, it may look like petty violence, but in many cases there are mores that dictate how one goes about protectng themselves. Yet inner city gang members make up a disproporational population of people in jail. Yet in poor rural America, it's ok to cap someone because they were "stealing food?" (point exaggerated for arguments sake)

IF we can take law into our own hands, then there is no need for a written law. Obviously, taking law into our own hands would result in a homicide epidemic. So to end the double standard, and ensure lawful justice, there needs to be stricter laws for gun ownership, and severe punishment for breaking the law. If anyone could offer 2 reasons why any citizen would need an AK-47, other than to commit mass homicide, then I may consider standing down my argument.

Finally, the wine exmaple you raise is antithetical to the actual situation in Mexico -- the country is out of control. Mass homicide, drug wars between organized gangs, beheading, rape and pillaging -- it's runnign rampant over there. And we would be ignorant if we didn't acknowledge the role we play in terms of weapon supply, and high demand for drugs in this country. Even inner city gangsters I've interviewed are well aware of the drug economy, and the shipments from Mexico they rely on to make money.

I'm not necessiarily anti gun, I own a pistol myself (though of the spring load, fairly harmless airsoft kind). I'm just in favor of strict rules and a retooling of the 2nd amendment to reflect modern times.

Devrim said...

2 reasons to own a AK-47 :

Criminals, being criminals will acquire such weapons. If I need to defend myself against such a weapon, I'd rather have something equal or more powerful.

99.9% of the time, such a weapon as home defense doesn't make sense, 99.9% times driving a Hummer doesn't make sense, and I can make a point Hummers kill more people than a Yugo, so nobody should be allowed to drive anything bigger than a Yugo ?

Second, the language slipped into these bills, back at home I had a WW 1 rifle that was passed from generation to generation. When the government banned assault rifles, they slipped the language "any rifle that a bayonet can be attached" this rifle, near 100 years young, was seized by the government and destroyed. Can you say generational theft, culture lost, legacy lost ?

The Law said...

Well Devrim, you haven't talked me down on the gun issue, but i do see where you are coming from. I suppose the real issue is where to we draw the line? The big question would be does the banning of assualt weapons significantly decrease the number of gun deaths related to them?, or is the the average citizen in danger enough to require heavy firepower against an attacker?

I do not have the numbers to point #1 is in the air, but I can't think of any time in recent memory where a victim of a shooter with an assault rifle would have been in position to defend themselves with a wepaon of their own. As far as I can tell, these attacks are usually of them homicidal maniac, shoot up the entire neighborhood until i'm caught and turn the gun on myself kind. I'd like to think a band on assault weapons would take the wind out of a homicidal maniac's sails.

Still, I'm sorry about your WWI rifle... I think there should have been a compromise... fill the barrel with cork to render it unusable, and keep in in a sealed glass case? I don't know but somethin glike that is a treasure, and it is definitely a shame it was taken away.

Alex said...

It seems pretty clear to me that the 2nd amendment was put in so that if the newly formed government turned out to tyrannical, we could start another rebellion justified by the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
It should have been thrown out after the civil war, however, because at that point The United States clearly didn't recognize the people's right to rebel.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing better than emptying a full-auto into an old car but people who think they need one at home are exactly the people who shouldn't have them.

People who stress the need to defend themselves with assault rifles are paranoid and have a tenuous hold on reality.
Even with just a hand gun you are a hundred times more likely to shoot a friend or family member than a burgler. I guess you are imagining having blazing gun battles at long ranges with criminals also carrying Aks.
Defending yourself against well armed criminals is like surviving a plane crash, it's scary and easy to imagine but really not likely to actually happen.
What is much more likely to happen is that someone will break into you home when you are not there, steal your rifle and shoot someone with it.

Devrim said...

The Law

Given the current congress's legislative record (hint AIG bonuses) do you trust them with "drawing the line", any line ?

Alex:

People who stress the need to defend themselves with assault rifles are paranoid and have a tenuous hold on reality.

You should run for office if you aren't in one already, such load of bollox.

If I were a criminal, or hell bent on massacring couple dozen people; and sale of every weapon, including glass bottles were forbidden, I would be able to fashion some kind of weapon to give me an advantage over the armless person.

Bans don't work, look at the "Prohibition", look at the current drug problem. The only thing the bans are doing is silver lining the criminals' pockets while alienating regular folk.

Devrim said...

The Law :

The big question would be does the banning of assualt weapons significantly decrease the number of gun deaths related to them?

No, as I have argued over and over, criminals will get their hands on these weapons anyways. Give me a solid good example where a law abiding citizen killed somebody else with a banned weapon.

or is the the average citizen in danger enough to require heavy firepower against an attacker?

Remember back in '95 someone stole a tank in Cali ? It was one of those 0.01% incidents where a rocket launcher might be handy. If I was forced to defend my home against a burglar, the assault rifle is the last weapon of my choice. The laws in my state say that I have to retreat before I discharge a weapon. So our game plan, in case of a break-in is to get the children, block doors, get behind the bed, call help, fire warning shot if someone forces the door, fire deadly shot if they manage to get in the room.

After the warning shot (shotgun, bird pellets), 3 things can happen, the burglar decides it is too risky and leaves; the burglar thinks there is something of high value in the room and keeps trying to open the door and manages to get in, that is where the 9mm comes to play; the burglar decides to empty his Mac-10 into the room, that is where the AK-47 would come in handy, as the burglar's bullets are absorbed by furniture in the room, I would have the chance to respond to him with matching fire power.

Devrim said...

On the above example, my owning an assault weapon increased the statistics of "people who died" because of "assault" weapons. But did the burglar die, because I had an assault weapon, or did he die because he was stupid and engaged in criminal activity ?

The Law said...

It is true that anything can be fashioned into a weapon for "assault" purposes. A Y shaped stick, thick rubber band, and a rock can become a projectile weapon. There is a key difference between a weapon for saftety and an assault weapon. I think a ban across the board for automatic assault weapons would in the end significantly reduce the number of weapons available for anyone to use. Of course there is such a thing as smuggling, but if someone were going to go through all the trouble to smuggle a weapon, I'm inclined to believe his target is of a higher value than the home theater system at your house.

The main difference between alchohol and drugs vs. assault weapons is booze and weed are easy for a civilian to produce if they are good with plants. Yes, someone can indeed make a home made automatic rifle I'm sure, but it is more likely that a ban on assault weapons would deter more violent acts than enable them.

Plus, there is no way an AK-47 is going to stop a tank. A more realistic senario is the story of a neighbor who was armed to the teeth with assault weapons with the intenet to slaughter his family, co-workers, and probably anyone in between. Luckily, he was caught before the dame could be done. Fact is, 9 out of 10 people would be powerless to do anything about an attacker with an AK. Get them off the streets, and make it that much harder to acquire one. Make the punishment that much more severe for owning one. I don't have a problem with pistols, shotguns, and single shot rifles... there are practical applications for them like for sport and hunting. I still maintain that very little good can come of civilian ownership of assault weapons.

Still, thank you for your commentary. I'd be very curious to hear your points of view on upcomign topics.

Devrim said...

The Law :

Still, thank you for your commentary. I'd be very curious to hear your points of view on upcoming topics.

I guess you had your fill of me on this issue and you have want to move on. I wouldn't blame you, as I come from a culture where "touching your neighbor's horse, weapon, woman is a capital crime" I can debate on this topic till we take 20 steps, turn around and... If you want to keep debating here on the gun issue please let me know, or if you want to lay this to rest, or take it into private domain and have an e-mail debate.

Please have a look at http://thepurplecenter.blogspot.com/2009/04/must-see-video-sound-of-musiccomes-to.html and my suggestion that we ditch the Tea Parties and engage in such and let me know if it works for your Episode 48 ?

The Law said...

Devrim: Oh no! I merely meant it as a genuine thanks for your perspective, as you are a new commentor to my blog. Though I disagree with our current gun laws, I do respect your opinion. We can definitely continue the debate on this or any other topic here... it is exactly what I hoped to acheive out of this blog!

Devrim said...

The Law :

OK than here is my perspective; we have laws in the USA that prevent people who have a criminal records to own guns, we have laws that prevent people with a psychiatric backgrounds to own guns.

Still, the Virginia Tech massacre by Seung-Hui Cho who already had a criminal and psychiatric record managed to acquire 2 semi-auto guns, which were not banned under the "assault weapons" ban of the Clinton era. Brought those weapons to the VA Tech campus; which, by law abiding citizens , would be a gun free zone. Do I need to argue the outcome of that incident ?

I consider myself to be a law abiding citizen , all guns in my house are registered. I consider myself as a responsible parent , all guns are kept in an electromagnetic lock box opened by fingerprint ID, which just me and my wife can open.

Last year when we went for marriage counseling (still ongoing), first thing I disclosed was that we have guns in the house.

I totally agree on your point of convicted felons to be denied of owning any guns. I totally agree that people who are under psychiatric evaluation should not own guns.

From my stand point, an AK-47 or M-16 in the hands of a responsible owner, is no more threat than a slingshot in the hands of an irresponsible owner.

Only thing that is stopping the irresponsible slingshot owner going on a rampage is the responsible gun owner.

Alex said...

Tell me Devrim, why does the US have twice the gun death rate of any other industrialized nation?

conservative generation said...

tL,

You stirred the hornets nest on this one ;)

Alex,

The danger of statistics is that you can never prove a cause and effect relation. That's not my take, it's the law of the field of statistics. For example, Americans are twice as likely to be fat because there is more access to food in America. Maybe? Maybe it's what and how American's eat?

The Law said...

You're right CGen, so here is a little list to illustrate how bad Gun death is in America. The number listed is the crude rate, which is the number fire-arm related homicides divided by the population of the country. This number reflects gun deaths per capita.

The numbers I found were from 1999... I can't find 2008 numbers, may have to wait for the census? Still it illustrates the point.

USA - 3.72
England - .15
Germany - .22
Canada - .76
Japan - .02
Singapore - .07
South Korea - .04

As this chart clearly illustrates, the countries with more strict gun control laws have fewer deaths. As a reminder, this is homicide deaths only.

And I found the numbers for the US in 2005
USA in 2005 - 4.29, which means the problem is gettign worse. In 2002 Canada went down to .4 after the govenment passed stricter gun control laws in 2001.

conservative generation said...

tL,

Fun with Stats. First of all, as I pointed out stats never point to a cause and effect relationship.

Let me use a favorite liberal argument. Alcohol related deaths are nearly the same total number. Do we need an alcohol ban? We're saying gun related deaths is too high of a number, but there's just as many alcohol deaths. Why must we worry about one and not another?

Some problems with your numbers? Nearly 75% of gun related deaths are from suicide. Accidental deaths have been dropping over years.

The Law said...

Correct, which is why the numbers I got are from homicides only. And 55% of deaths are suicides... but again suicides are NOT reflected in the statistics

The Law said...

Also, giving your comment soem more thought, there are very expicit rules about alcohol absue. NY and CA amongsst many other states have zero tolerance rules abotu drinking and driving which includes, jail time, fines, and suspension of license.

AND there is an alcohol band on certain liquor. For example the liquor Absinthe (swiss I think) is banned in America, because the wormwood used to make it is an hallucinogen. Certain brands of Russian vodkas are banned because the proof is too high (and i mean its damn close to rubbing alcohol!). I'm not calling for the ban of all liquor, just the ones that can render one unconscious after one shot. And I'm not calling for the banning of all guns, just the ones that have a fire rate of 600 rounds per minute.

Alex said...

very true Statistics are not proof per se and no one can know all the causes behind the high US gun death rate.
I simply find it hard to deny that there is a connection between ease of access and frequency of use.

conservative generation said...

tL,

I'm sorry I missed your homicide rate. It was early in the morning.

Sure, I do not have a problem with regulation and control of some types of weapons. However, I do believe that it is unfair to punish law abiding citizens for gun use by criminals.

Here's some more stats. This is the murder rate per capita in 2000 for the countries you listed tL.

US - 5.5
England - 1.61
Germany - 1.17
Canada - 1.59
Japan - 1.10
Singapore - .92
South Korea - 2.02

I believe these numbers show that the US has a very serious homicide problem. Gun related or not, there is a serious problem not being addressed and it probably has nothing to do with guns.

You'll notice from your gun stats, that despite not having guns, people in these countries have found a way to kill. I should say not one way, but many. Take the UK, having guns is only 9% of the homicide rate. That shows that, yes, homicide with guns is down, but not homicide altogether. Banning guns will not be the be all end all to homicide.

Alex,

I can understand your point, but not sure I can agree in this situation. I think there are a lot of factors that go into the violence in America. I don't believe that access to guns is as big of a factor as it is made out to be. Washington DC has long had a gun ban and one of the largest homicide rates.

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