Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are we all "the bad guy with a gun"? (Redux)

I/we've already covered this on the blog, but I thought the gravity of the situation deserved a more formal hearing, so here it is, hot off the presses. I do wish they hadn't cut the line about the woeful divorce rate. To my mind, segueing right from the marriage stats to the stats on intimate violence makes my argument about the basic inconstancy of human nature sound a tad more melodramatic than it ought to. Overall I'm happy with the piece, though. It's a case that needs to be made. As to the pic, I thought the Dorian Gray art worked here.

And while (I hope) I've got your attention, let me ask again, is no one else deeply troubled by the inclination of so many gun hard-liners to justify their right to keep and bear arms on the grounds that they may someday need to mount an armed insurrection against our own government? Browse some of the hits that come back under this search. Tell me it isn't scary.Yeah, I know this thinking dates back to Jeffersonian times, when we were not that far removed from the King's dominion. Those times are a distant cultural memory, however....as is the need to hunt down and kill one's dinner.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2254019/Utah-teachers-concealed-weapon-training-educators-terrible-idea.html

Every crisis being a sales opportunity, the gun lobby is already exploiting new markets.
Which got me thinking about the recent killing of the unarmed Trayvon. I don't recall hearing an outcry then from the gun lobby that all young black males should be armed when walking the streets alone, you know, just in case.....

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, are you kidding? In the NRA worldview, every black guy is already carrying an Uzi (at least), which is why the rest of us need to be heavily armed at all times...

Dimension Skipper said...

I think anon makes a very good and valid point in bringing up the Martin/Zimmerman shooting. Wish I'd thought of it!

OK, I'm a put on my snarky internet commenter tinfoil hat for once...

I think I've already made it clear where I personally stand on the gun issue in light of recent events (and not just Sandy Hook!). I think folks who make the argument that the 2nd Amendment needs to be interpreted as it now is (instead of how it was interpreted the first couple hundred years or so) to allow them to defend themselves, their families, and other like-minded God-fearing patriotic Americans from a potentially and suddenly tyrannical government too big for its britches is transparent poppycock. And that "logic" also shows no real understanding or respect for the overall Constitution as it relates to our country.

Personally, I'd love to instantly and magically zap all guns (and other weapons while I'm at it) out of existence or render them unusable against humans, but obviously that's impossible so I'll settle for much stricter gun controls/enforcement and especially complete illegality and significant jail time for anyone with high- and rapid-capacity "assault" weapons (maybe with very strictly defined exceptions for true collectors and museums) regardless of usage.

Note that my expertise with re to guns is nil and my terms used herein are likely fuzzy, I know, but I think folks will get my gist. I'm willing to let collectors collect, hunters hunt, and enthusiasts target practice, but within defined protocols and with proper storage/carry requirements fulfilled. Proper checks and/or certifications for anyone buying a gun under any circumstances, commercial or private, should also be a must imo. If I sell my car, the buyer has to register it with the DMV... Gun sales should be even more strictly regulated in that regard seeing as how they AR Elethal weapons designed for that very purpose. (Besides, there's already been a run of gun sales anyway—probably still ongoing—as folks are stocking up just in case... Perhaps it's M.A.D., but on a personal level?)

I'm sure reasonable Republicans and Democrats can unite to iron out all the nitty gritty details in an agreeable and workable fashion... Especially since apparently all those patriotic gun-toting humanitarian conservatives are obviously such really strict Constitutionalists, willing to use it to defend themselves and all the other underdog little guys that are just like Rosa Parks back in the day, striking blows for freedom everywhere in the name of truth, justice, and the American way...

Conservatives Invoke NAACP Case In Fight For Secret Donors

OK, snarky hat off, but one more thing, totally off topic, though entirely up your alley, Steve... If you didn't see it, you gotta check out today's Dilbert.

roger o'keefe said...

I didn't buy your reasoning the first time and I don't buy it now. By your logic we'd never allow anyone to do anything, since we're all potentially crazy and most things have inherent dangers anyway. I guess we should we outlaw steak knives too while we're at it.

Happy New Year, though, and thanks for keeping the conversation going this long even though I find that I agree with you less and less!

Steve Salerno said...

Happy New Year to you too, Roger--and to all SHAMbloggers. Stay safe...which means, keep out of gun range. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

Happy New Year, all! I agree with a good portion of DimSkip's comments, with the notable exception being a desire to see all weapons zapped. I'm old enough to remember zip guns, the very existence of which proved that if the "weapon of choice" isn't available, those who want weapons - particularly those who will use them for illegal enterprises - will get them.

"Assault rifles" and high-cap magazines are designed for the purpose of extended, indiscriminate shooting, pure and simple, and serve no viable function beyond enhancing the paranoid fantasies of those who own them. Even in combat, high-cap magazines are shunned due to their increased weight and tendency to malfunction, and combatants are trained to avoid rapid-fire except in very limited, specific instances, as the practice wastes finite resources and incurs additional liability for collateral damage.

As I've said before, even if a corrupt government could somehow convince the military to wage war on its fellow citizens, the military's sophisticated weaponry would not guarantee victory by any means. Just look at how successful the well-equipped Russians were in subduing Afghan tribesmen who were initially armed with WWI-era British Enfields.

If we're going to compare gun deaths to any other element in our society, I'd say that automobile deaths would be the most appropriate. Sure, cars are not designed to kill, and aren't often obtained for that purpose, but kill they do, despite extensive regulation. The closest we've come to reducing automobile deaths hasn't been the result of regulating the instrument, but of regulating the behavior of the individuals behind the wheel. And I support similar efforts being applied to the ownership and use of weapons. IMO, the polarized demands that we either eliminate all firearms or allow unrestricted ownership and use of ALL weapons are both absurd, and both constitute an attempt to Constitutionally eliminate common sense.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, thanks again for all the thought and craft you've put into my blog all these years now. Happy New Year, my pistol-packin' friend (and the Conster, of course).

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year from London

I just worry about RevRon and Roger as statistically their guns are liable to hurt them more then anyone else. So keep safe and throw them away:)

Londoner

Anonymous said...

'And while (I hope) I've got your attention, let me ask again, is no one else deeply troubled by the inclination of so many gun hard-liners to justify their right to keep and bear arms on the grounds that they may someday need to mount an armed insurrection against our own government?'




I came across this interesting reading today which I think goes some way towards answering your query:

http://www.justiceonline.org/commentary/fbi-files-ows.html

It seems that the deed has already been comprehensively done and without a single shot being fired from those 3 million firearms kept to supposedly prevent a replay of colonial tyranny.

Of particular note is the heavily redacted plan to use sniper teams against the ring leaders of this officially acknowledged peaceful protest that nevertheless is designated and responded to as domestic terrorism.

Tech progress and the collaboration between 'law n order' regulators and those deemed too big to fail or subsequently jail seems to have made the 'organised militia' argument obsolete.

Happy new year to all in this brave new world.

Dimension Skipper said...

On the subject of gun vs. car deaths in America...

Just How Common Are Gun Deaths in America? Probably More Than You Think.
By Josh Voorhees at Slate
December 18, 2012

Dimension Skipper said...

Interesting food for thought concerning Constitutional arguments...

Let’s Give Up on the Constitution
By Louis Michael Seidman
New york Times, The Opinion Pages
December 30, 2012

I confess that about halfway through the piece, I scrolled back up to see if you were the author, Steve. Seems to me like your style, or at least your mode of thinking.

RevRon's Rants said...

Londoner - I can't speak for Roger, but statistically, I'm highly unlikely to be hurt by my own firearms. I was thoroughly trained in gun safety and proficiency as a kid, when I was very involved in NRA-sanctioned target and trap competitions. And that was when the NRA stood more for safety than for paranoia. I also received extensive training and experience in the military. The individuals who fall within the grim statistics are, by and large, inexperienced in firearms use in general, and defensive use in particular. And despite what some might imply, I don't suffer from any of the types of mental impairment that are so often the precursors to gun-related tragedies.

So while I appreciate your honest concern for my well-being, I can assure you that it is misdirected.

Anonymous said...

I liked Seidman's comment on the desperate clinging to(and arguing over interpretations of)an ancient text rather than actually dealing with today's modern and immediate problems.

I couldn't help drawing a parallel between those arguments and the fundamentalist clinging to another ancient text and the endless theological wranglings it engenders.
Did anyone ever manage to establish exactly how many angels can fit on the head of a pin or was that just a means of passing the time while deflecting attention from some ghastly injustices happening in the real world?

Good to see that the fiscal cliff (appalling metaphor) can be more aptly renamed the fiscal football now that is has been kicked some way down the road---again.
Keeps us all on tenterhooks until some more pressing crisis looms.

Dimension Skipper said...

More statistical food for thoughtful digestion...

'Stand Your Ground' Linked To Increase In Homicides
By Shankar Vedantam & David Schultz
NPR, January 02, 2013

"One possibility for the increase in homicide is that perhaps [in cases where] there would have been a fistfight ... now, because of stand your ground laws, it's possible that those escalate into something much more violent and lethal," says Hoekstra.

It's important to remember that the data Hoekstra is analyzing depend on how police classify shootings. Police guidelines likely vary from state to state, and police in different places may be interpreting shootings differently in light of stand your ground laws.

Still, based on the available data, it appears that crafters of these laws sought to give good guys more latitude to defend themselves against bad guys. But what Hoekstra's data suggest is that in real-life conflicts, both sides think of the other guy as the bad guy. Both believe the law gives them the right to shoot.

In a separate analysis of death certificates before and after stand your ground laws were passed in different states, economists at Georgia State University also found that states that passed the laws ended up with a higher homicide rate.

....

Stanford law professor John Donohue
[ ... ] praised the study done by Texas A&M's Hoekstra. Donohue has been studying crime and violence for more than two decades and is working on his own independent analysis of stand your ground laws. So far, he says, he's getting the same results Hoekstra did.

"The imperfect but growing evidence seems to suggest that the consequences of adopting stand your ground laws are pernicious, in that they may lead to a greater number of homicides — thus going against the notion that they are serving some sort of protective function for society," he says.

RevRon's Rants said...

I can't help but wonder if the increase in homicides might be ultimately attributable to the fact that "the law" has morphed inappropriately from a means to an end (justice), and has become an end unto itself. Honest people, acting with good intent, find themselves aggressively prosecuted, while those who act out of malfeasance face little in the way of recrimination for their acts, so long as their attorneys are crafty enough to wrangle a technicality that bears little resemblance to "justice."

IMO, jury nullification - a topic which is forbidden from inclusion in jury instructions - might be our greatest hope of realizing anything resembling justice. The opposing attorneys in any case are tasked with arguing the minutiae of the law, and the judge is tasked with ensuring that those arguments are framed within the bounds of that law. The jury is not similarly bound, and can render a verdict based upon their common-sense interpretation of the facts in a case, within an inherently broad framework of statutes, but not as severely restricted as are the attorneys and judge. They can call a spade a spade, where the attorneys argue sharpshooter versus shovel in their attempts to prove that no hole has been dug.

Dimension Skipper said...

RevRon, according to how I read the article about the study, it was based on how police classified the shootings without waiting for or looking at trial outcomes (and it is also noted therein that that could be somewhat problematic). I'm sure a reasonably intelligent person could find all sorts of concerns with how it was done, but even so I thought it was interesting.
__________

Yet another puzzling (to me, anyway) gun-related note...

'Gun Appreciation Day' Is Jan. 19, Conservative Groups Dec

I'm sure it's just an homage to those famous Guillotine Appreciation Days way back when in France. I'd also like to see a Poison Appreciation Day or Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Weapons Appreciation Days.

Sigh.

Dimension Skipper said...

Sorry... Accidentally truncated 'Declare' to 'Dec' in that linked article title, but the link will still work regardless.

RevRon's Rants said...

DimSkip - My response is more directed at the mindset of the perpetrators than the classifications applied by law enforcement. IMO, the very existence of the "stand your ground" laws, along with the way our jurisprudence system responds to cases, instills or reinforces in some individuals a mindset of entitlement, essentially reducing or even eliminating moral and legal inhibitions against the taking of a life.

If someone is prone to violence and is implicitly (if indirectly) told that they may well face no recriminations for committing an act of violence, that propensity would logically be magnified, and the occurrence of violent acts increased.

Steve Salerno said...

I think that in the wrong type of person, the concept of "stand your ground" emboldens, and magnifies dangerous tendencies that we probably want to discourage, not encourage. Consider George Zimmerman: who pursued his quarry until he created a situation where he now had to "stand his ground." I guess we'll see what all the evidenc shows.

It would seem that traditional self-defense statutes cover most scenarios where SYG would be correctly invoked/applied, anyway. I still don't quite understand why we can't suggest to people in such situations that they're supposed to retreat if possible and then fire only if the encroaching party continues to encroach. I worry that the SYG precept extends to everyday people a certain latitude in the use of deadly force that isn't even necessarily extended to cops and--for that matter--the military--which in some settings has historically been expected to hold fire until fired upon.

OTOH, I don't think we want to make Joe Homeowner have to wait till his asssailant gets in the first shot.

Tough issues.

Dimension Skipper said...

57 plogyhiTough issues, indeed. One can retreat from a knife wielder (or duck a thrown knife) or even a gun wielder, but one cannot retreat quickly enough to outrun or duck a bullet (well, except for Neo in the Matrix). And the decisions being made on either side of the bullet may take place within milliseconds. Guns, and the urgency they encourage, essentially speed up time, leaving much less room for conscious, intelligent deliberation to go into the available choices, often leaving both aggressor and aggressed in the realm of muscle reflex or mental panic, either one of which or both mingled can easily trigger chaos.

As technology continually makes us capable of doing more and more, faster and faster, perhaps what we need are technological "brakes," ways to make the technology itself slow us down and THINK. Of course, I doubt that's even possibly (the idea of tech slowing us down, not the THINKing part, though at times I DO wonder...) and if it were it could easily backfire in various scenarios.

...I'm just sort of randomly brainstorming aloud here.

Dimension Skipper said...

First: a minor corrective addenda to my prior comment...

"57 plogyhi" was just a slip of the captcha code, obviously. I'd wondered why it didn't take the first time!

Also, "possibly" = "possible."
__________

Second: Seriously, NRA?...

NRA Vows To Stop Tucson From Destroying Guns

The NRA is fast turning my apathy about them to disgust, possibly even hate (not that I can act much upon that feeling without guns, but that's just as well). They obviously aren't really worried about the "violation" of the law as much as they are about the destruction of the guns since Rathner already is vowing to try to tweak the law if they lose any suit they bring.

I can't help but wonder if they'd be anywhere near as up in arms—pun most definitely intended!—if it were a good old-fashioned book burning...

Note: I can actually understand fighting to save historically significant guns for museums and collectors, but I'm thinking 99.9% of the guns collected are just your average everyday guns for either hunting or protection, nothing special.

Dimension Skipper said...

Irony Alert: Yesterday was "Gun Appreciation Day." lol.

Some of the self-declared "responsible" gun owners/enthusiasts are not helping their cause any...

5 injured after firearms go off at Ohio, N.C., Indiana gun shows
By Michael Martinez and Greg Botelho, CNN

Dimension Skipper said...

Gee, I guess the "Smith & Wesson security service" failed. They should have paid the extra money for the Deluxe Premium Package. People will go to their graves declaring that THEY are "responsible" gun owners...

Sheriff: NM teen planned to randomly shoot people
By Susan Montoya Bryan, AP
Updated 4:24 pm, Tue, Jan 22, 2013

Steve Salerno said...

DimSkip, this is anecdotal, of course, but a permissible illustration of what the stats say, as per the research for my articles: Have a gun in the home and it is more likely to be your undoing than your salvation.

I loved the line, "Griego's father had taught him to use guns, and they shot together on a regular basis." Lanza's mother took the kid shooting, too, didn't she? After all, it's important to know how to use a gun.

Steve Salerno said...

I'm reminded also of all the 85-year-old drivers who don't want to surrender their driver's licenses because they're not the problem...it's all those other old farts on the road. They'll look you straight in the eye and say, "What's wrong with those people, don't they know when it's time to pack it in?"

Dimension Skipper said...

Both of these items sort of out of left field, but I thought they'd be of potential interest to you, Steve, as well as your loyal SHAMbloggians...
__________

The answer to your titular question may be: "No, only those of us who scan as Evil." I say let's start lining up the politicians right now for scanning. I'm betting that at least ¾ of'em at federal and state levels will test positive...

The dark spot of Evil in the brain
__________

Another potential answer to your question may be: "No, only those of us who grew up lobbing imaginary grenades."...

Second-grade Loveland student reportedly suspended for imaginary weapon
__________

NOTE: I really wasn't sure what post to put these under, but finally settled for here since this seemed to be where they best converge topically due to fringe-y Sandy Hook reactions. Though the first really has nothing whatsoever to do with S.H. other than coincidental post-S.H. timing.

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks to DimSkip and the rest of you who are keeping my threads alive while I take time off to be overwhelmed with high-paying work (which I guess is a good thing, but to be honest, I often end up wishing I were blogging). Plus I'm teaching again now...just one day per week, but you'd be astonished at how much of one's time a 3-hour seminar class can siphon off (prep, assignments, etc.) And I do try to be one of those profs who "makes a difference," as we naively (and self-importantly) say.