Monday, December 17, 2012

Specific Steps to Address Gun Violence



249 people in the US were shot todayOver 95,000 were shot so far this year. (Source)

Finally there seems to some measure of political will to address the problem, at least to begin talking about it.  Sure, there are still those who oppose any limitations on weapons ownership.  And there are those who want all firearms banned.  But between those extremes lie the rest of America.  Senator Feinstein said today she will introduce a bill restoring the expired ban on assault weapons and limiting clips to 10 rounds maximum.  Other than that, I'm hearing very few specifics.  Well, I'm hardly a weapons expert but someone has to put forward some proposals.

Humbly I stepped into the breach. (Okay, line stolen from the Limeliters.)

Here's what I would do:

1. Legislation or voluntary action by the media to control coverage, beginning with leaving the perpetrators anonymous.  The glorification of mass murder encourages copy-cat crimes.  Why have we had so many of these in the past 20 years?  Partly because we've made celebrities of the madmen who butcher innocents.  If the mass media is not willing to voluntarily commit to this, let's look at a way to impose it legislatively or judicially.

2. Revive the previous ban on assault weapons.  This is a no-brainer.  The shootings in Newtown, Aurora and at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin were all from an assault weapon called the Bushmaster AR-15, a knockoff of the military's M16.  It is the most popular gun in America currently, selling very well at $500-$1000 each.  It is a killing machine.  Once the ban goes into place, the government should offer to purchase these back from owners at a fair second-hand price to remove as many as possible from the streets.

3. Overturn the 2005 Protection of Lawful Arms in Commerce Act signed by President Bush.  This made it illegal to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable through the courts.  It is outrageous that this one industry is sheltered from accountability that every other industry must face. Do this first.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is also commonly referred to as the "Gun Protection Act." The law dismissed all current claims against gun manufacturers in both federal and state courts and pre-empted future claims. The law could not be clearer in stating its purpose: "To prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and their trade associations, for the harm caused solely by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended." 
4. Overturn "stand your ground" laws. The killing earlier this year in Florida of Trayvon Martin brought home to all of us how the proliferation of these license-to-kill laws is affecting our communities.  If you must shoot in self-defense, the courts do consider that an exception.  Stand your ground laws go much too far.

5. If necessary by amendment so be it, but allow states and municipalities to regulate weapons in their borders. Even in the "wild west", frontier towns had very restrictive gun laws to protect citizens.  Yet just this week the 7th District Court overturned an Illinois law prohibiting carrying loaded guns in public and ordered the state to develop a concealed carry permit process.  Over the weekend, 18 people in Chicago were shot.

6. Authorize the ATF to regulate the firearms industry, including advertisement, safety controls, online sales and manufacture and import controls.  We have an agency that should be regulating the firearms industry but have tied their hands.  There are strict regulations on cars, gasoline, plumbing contractors, hairdressers, kids' pajamas, peanut butter and plastic toys. Why are there almost none on guns? 

7. Establish a maximum firepower for citizen-owned weapons.  That could include number of automatic rounds (as in Feinstein's proposed bill), but also strength -- as in armor-piercing bullets -- and distance.  I don't really want anti-aircraft guns anywhere near my flight path. 

8. Make internet sales and gun shows/sales illegal and require registration for all private sales and gifts of firearms.  At armslist.com, you can buy weapons at a Craigslist-style site from individual sellers.  I spent less than a minute at the site and found an UZI for sale in nearby Medford. Ending internet sales is a priority of the Brady Campaign.  I support them in that.

9. Consider additional insurance requirements for firearms. We know that people who own guns are more than four times more likely to be shot. We also know that men who accumulate arsenals are at high risk for anti-social behavior. If age is a consideration in what you pay for medical, automobile or life insurance, and the type of roof you have a consideration in your home insurance, why not a risky activity like excessive firearm ownership?  Guns are also a frequent target in burglaries. I have no idea if insurance companies are currently permitted to ask clients about gun ownership or if they can adjust rates accordingly.  I'm not even sure it's a good idea.  But let's talk about it.

So relax, hunters.  I'm not suggesting taking your hunting rifle or the BB gun you use to scare the crows out of your cherry tree.  There are plenty of ways we can tighten up firepower access and add a measure of safety that we don't have today.  

I call on Congress, the President, Governors and Legislators to demonstrate the courage needed to confront the powerful gun lobby.  It's time.  Now.


4 comments:

  1. THANK YOU for posting on the NY Times, which lead me to here. Pointless to even try reining in this insanity b/c "there are just too many guns out there"? Everybody's talking but nobody has any specific ideas to offer? Well, HERE are nine of them.

    Your post deserves to absolutely go viral & be repeated in major newspapers all across the country.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sure, then let's have additional insurance requirements for sky divers, rodeo participants, any athletes, and all drivers over 65 years of age. All of those are risky activities too.

    How about this:

    How about we REQUIRE each and every adult to be armed. REQUIRE. In other words, if you aren't armed, you get arrested and/or pay a fine.

    How many armed robberies would there be? How many carjackings? Crime would drop to zero overnight if criminals knew that everyone else was packing, too.

    Further gun restrictions not only would not prevent tragedies like Newtown, but would make them more frequent and more deadly, because law-abiding citizens would be left defenseless. Moonbats will screech, “Oh yeah? How come we don’t hear about armed civilians stopping massacres?” There are several reasons:

    • Massacres don’t happen every day.
    • Not enough people exercise their right to bear arms.
    • Carriers do not necessarily have an opportunity to fire, as in the Clackamas mall shooting.
    • The statist and rabidly anti–Second Amendment “mainstream” media is hardly likely to draw attention to such cases.

    Nonetheless, The Volokh Conspiracy lists a few cases of armed citizens who were not off-duty cops possibly saving lives by terminating massacres:


    In Pearl, Mississippi in 1997, 16-year-old Luke Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned to death his mother at home, then killed two students and injured seven at his high school. As he was leaving the school, he was stopped by Assistant Principal Joel Myrick, who had gone out to get a handgun from his car. I have seen sources that state that Woodham was on the way to Pearl Junior High School to continue shooting, though I couldn’t find any contemporaneous news articles that so state.

    In Edinboro, Pennsylvania in 1996, 14-year-old Andrew Wurst shot and killed a teacher at a school dance, and shot and injured several other students. He had just left the dance hall, carrying his gun — possibly to attack more people, though the stories that I’ve seen are unclear — when he was confronted by the dance hall owner James Strand, who lived next door and kept a shotgun at home. …

    In Winnemucca, Nevada in 2008, Ernesto Villagomez killed two people and wounded two others in a bar filled with three hundred people. He was then shot and killed by a patron who was carrying a gun (and had a concealed carry license). …

    In Colorado Springs in 2007, Matthew Murray killed four people at a church. He was then shot several times by Jeanne Assam, a church member, volunteer security guard, and former police officer.

    I almost forgot the No. 1 reason you don’t hear of these cases more often: Uncoincidentally, literally every single public mass shooting since at least 1950 with the sole exception of the attack on Gabrielle Giffords has occurred in a gun-free zone — a.k.a. a helpless victim zone.


    The only thing gun laws do is make it harder for the law-abiding to purchase a gun. And they make liberals feel better, which is the most important priority in the United States.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why bother with the truth when hype and BS is so much better? And you call yourselves journalists. Here are just a few of your mistakes:

    RE: #2: The Bushmaster you claim was used in the Newtown shooting was actually never fired and was found in the mother's car still parked outside.

    RE #3: "It is outrageous that this one industry is sheltered from accountability that every other industry must face." Since when does Coors, or Jack Daniels or Robert Mondavi pay fines for drunk driving deaths when people misuse their products? And since when do manufacturers of OTC sleeping medications pay fines when people misuse their products to commit suicide? And since when do belt manufacturers pay fines when people misuse their products to commits suicide? Your claim that other industries must face accountability in these situations is absolutely flawed.

    RE #4: Don't even start. Now you're going to say zimmerman wasn't getting his head bashed into the cement? have you seen the pictures taken by the police? oh, and let's not forget those color photos the prosecution sought to withhold because they were too damning. Get rid of the bullies and people trying to kill other people and THEN you can get rid of stand your ground.

    RE #5: 18 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend BECAUSE they didn't have CCW's. Don't believe it? Check and see. Not one was carrying. If they were, 18 might still be alive.

    RE #6: Have the ATF regulate the gun industry? Seriously? The fast and furious ATF? Lay off the crack pipe and get a clue.

    RE #7: Establish maximum firepower? Really? Police were not on the scene in Newtown for 20 minutes. with a six shot revolver or a pistol with the proposed 10 round clips and a WHEELBARROW full of ammunition, someone could have fired, reloaded and fired again over and over and over again and in 20 minutes could have EASILY burned thru 300 to 500 rounds of ammunition. Unless they just thought ahead and walked in with a satchel of preloaded 10 round magazines.

    You are SO missing the point. This guy was mentally ill; he was not a gun owner. His mother was and she somehow allowed him to gain access to her guns even while she was seeking to have him committed to a mental institution. Why aren't you talking about THAT because all of your law abiding legal gun owners maintain gun security. the mother didn't and it cost her and the rest of the town.

    if a kid steals liquor from his dad's supply, gets drunk and goes for a joy ride and kills a bunch of people, who gets punished? do you call for another prohibition on liquor? no, the dad gets punished for being negligent.

    RE #9: "We know that people who own guns are more than four times more likely to be shot." That's like saying we know that people who own liquor are four times more likely to get drunk.

    "We also know that men who accumulate arsenals are at high risk for anti-social behavior." That's just stupid and is as foolish as saying that we also know that men who have a wet bar in their how are at high risk for anti-social behavior after they get drunk.. This guy didn't accumulate an arsenal, in fact, he didn't even own a gun! He took his mom's gun which she failed to keep locked up.

    So congratulations. As usual, none of your ridiculous suggestions here would have prevented the Newtown shooting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is a killing machine. Once the ban goes into place, the government should offer to purchase these back from owners at a fair second-hand price to remove as many as possible from the streets.http://shootingtargets7.com

    ReplyDelete

I'm interested in your comments.