Dec 17 2012

Will anything change?

The events in Connecticut are so horrific-it is just painful still to think about. 20 children-CHILDREN-and six adults all of whom got up and went to the Sandy Hook school thinking it was just another day.

Now if the world were just, we as a nation would come together and craft a means to stop the possibilities of sick twisted people getting a hold of weapons.

But we won't.

Even now-morons like John Fund are already hard at work writing rationalizations as to why gun control does not work. And Uncle Dumbo is hard at work slandering anyone who believes we should do things differently.

Probably the best analysis I have read comes not from an American publication,  but a British one:

Switching to red-blooded conservative talk radio, I found two hosts offering a “move along, nothing to see here” defense of the status quo. One suggested that listeners should not torment themselves trying to understand “craziness”, though it would, the pair agreed, be understandable if some parents were tempted to remove their children from public education and homeschool them.

To that debate, all I can offer is the perspective of someone who has lived and worked in different corners of the world, with different gun laws………

The first time that I was posted to Washington, DC some years ago, the capital and suburbs endured a frightening few days at the hands of a pair of snipers, who took to killing people at random from a shooting position they had established in the boot of a car. I remember meeting a couple of White House correspondents from American papers, and hearing one say: but the strange thing is that Maryland (where most of the killings were taking place) has really strict gun laws. And I remember thinking: from the British perspective, those aren’t strict gun laws. Strict laws involve having no guns.

After a couple of horrible mass shootings in Britain, handguns and automatic weapons have been effectively banned. It is possible to own shotguns, and rifles if you can demonstrate to the police that you have a good reason to own one, such as target shooting at a gun club, or deer stalking, say. The firearms-ownership rules are onerous, involving hours of paperwork. You must provide a referee who has to answer nosy questions about the applicant's mental state, home life (including family or domestic tensions) and their attitude towards guns. In addition to criminal-record checks, the police talk to applicants’ family doctors and ask about any histories of alcohol or drug abuse or personality disorders.

Vitally, it is also very hard to get hold of ammunition. Just before leaving Britain in the summer, I had lunch with a member of parliament whose constituency is plagued with gang violence and drug gangs. She told me of a shooting, and how it had not led to a death, because the gang had had to make its own bullets, which did not work well, and how this was very common, according to her local police commander. Even hardened criminals willing to pay for a handgun in Britain are often getting only an illegally modified starter’s pistol turned into a single-shot weapon.

And, to be crude, having few guns does mean that few people get shot. In 2008-2009, there were 39 fatal injuries from crimes involving firearms in England and Wales, with a population about one sixth the size of America’s. In America, there were 12,000 gun-related homicides in 2008.

The numbers don't lie-and countries with very strict gun laws like Britain and Japan experience far lesser amounts of gun crime. It does exist of course, but not in the volumes that exist here. The easy way out for many Americans is to pretend that guns are not the problem-"its the society".

Well that may be-but easy access to weaponry makes the consequences of madness far, far greater than should have to be endured.

Probably the argument put forth that is the silliest one,  is the idea that somehow, the Founding Fathers intended the 2nd Amendment to be some sort of check and balance on the government. They never intended anything of the sort-the only reason the amendment was there was to form a militia. A well regulated militia. I remain firmly convinced that were the Founders drafting the bill of rights today-the 2nd Amendment would not be there. Its a very narcissistic expression of a "courage" that simply does not exist.


I would also say, to stick my neck out a bit further, that I find many of the arguments advanced for private gun ownership in America a bit unconvincing, and tinged with a blend of excessive self-confidence and faulty risk perception.

I am willing to believe that some householders, in some cases, have defended their families from attack because they have been armed. But I also imagine that lots of ordinary adults, if woken in the night by an armed intruder, lack the skill to wake, find their weapon, keep hold of their weapon, use it correctly and avoid shooting the wrong person. And my hunch is that the model found in places like Japan or Britain—no guns in homes at all, or almost none—is on balance safer.

As for the National Rifle Association bumper stickers arguing that only an armed citizenry can prevent tyranny, I wonder if that isn’t a form of narcissism, involving the belief that lone, heroic individuals will have the ability to identify tyranny as it descends, recognize it for what it is, and fight back. There is also the small matter that I don’t think America is remotely close to becoming a tyranny, and to suggest that it is is both irrational and a bit offensive to people who actually do live under tyrannical rule.

Nor is it the case that the British are relaxed about being subjects of a monarch, or are less fussed about freedoms. A conservative law professor was recently quoted in the papers saying he did not want to live in a country where the police were armed and the citizens not. I fear in Britain, at least, native gun-distrust goes even deeper than that: the British don’t even like their police to be armed (though more of them are than in the past).

But the problem remains-American politics are anything but rational. And as Tom Levenson pointed out, "An armed society may be a polite one. But it’s not one that is free. It is not one in which a civic life in any meaningful sense of the term can take place. Guns kill liberty."

And too many Americans can't or won't think rationally on the subject of guns. So we will remain stuck right where we are today and have been for some 50 years in both this and the previous violent centuries.

But here is the thing. The American gun debate takes place in America, not Britain or Japan. And banning all guns is not about to happen (and good luck collecting all 300m guns currently in circulation, should such a law be passed). It would also not be democratic. I personally dislike guns. I think the private ownership of guns is a tragic mistake. But a majority of Americans disagree with me, some of them very strongly. And at a certain point, when very large majorities disagree with you, a bit of deference is in order.

So in short I am not sure that tinkering with gun control will stop horrible massacres like today’s. And I am pretty sure that the sort of gun control that would work—banning all guns—is not going to happen. So I have a feeling that even a more courageous debate than has been heard for some time, with Mr Obama proposing gun-control laws that would have been unthinkable in his first term, will not change very much at all. Hence the gloom.

Thus the editors of the Economist are right. We Americans are simply going through the motions. Since we, collectively, have no intention of fixing the root problem-we, collectively, have no rights to "mourn" the helpless children and their teachers. "It's our fault, and until we evince some remorse for our actions or intention to reform ourselves, the idea that we consider ourselves entitled to "mourn" the victims of our own barbaric policies is frankly disgusting.".

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12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Will anything change?”

  1. Foggyon 17 Dec 2012 at 5:51 pm

    The sad truth is nothing will change. The radical right will once again carry the day. Our politicians have no will to protect our childre. 

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  2. Curtison 18 Dec 2012 at 3:39 pm

    He killed his own mother in order to get the guns. You up to that? See, HE DID NOT BUY THEM.
    Control = Ban. You know it does.
    How does your attitude in this matter differ in any particular from that of VADM Swift's efforts to end hooliganism, rape, crime, drunken behavior, badness in the western Pacific region with utterly insane and counterproductive policies that have entirely predictable results?
    It may still be up, it was last night. Avielle's Adventures blog. Read it and weep. Saw the link at the San Diego UT site.

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  3. foggyon 18 Dec 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Just looked at Aviell's Adventure. Recent post not up or not viewable unless invited to view. Did note an earlier entry re: Availle and hr elementary school. I felt my gut churn, Tears welled. I then went to the list of victims. There I found Avrille Richman. I cried.

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  4. Skippy-sanon 19 Dec 2012 at 7:38 am

    Well there are several differences with VADM Swifts efforts:
    1) The 2nd Amendment was never intended to be morphed into a defense of the some of the technolgical horrors that have been created, ever being in private hands.
    2) Swift is punishing everyone. Gun owners argue the same-but the ground they stand on is shakier, because the rate of Japanese girl rapes by Americans is .0005 percent. The rate of firearms deaths last year? over 20K. Swift is attacking a nonexistent problem. Gun control attacks a real one.
    3)The shooter may not have had the guns but he was around them. The Japanese and British accept the reality of such bans because it saves lives. So too do the Australians.
    These countries have gun control that works. That's the simple fact-but Americans won't accept those measures because they love guns more than they love kids. Or Schoolteachers who are after all-just "union thugs" who are overpaid.

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  5. Seanon 19 Dec 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Of course the Founding Fathers intended the 2nd amendment as the ultimate check/balance against the government.  How far do you think they would have gotten against Britain if they had been disarmed as a matter of legal course?  Not bloody far!!
    You cherry pick countries with strict gun control laws and low gun crime.  What about countries (Russia and Mexico to name 2…) that likewise have strict gun control laws but experience high gun crime????
    We have demonstrated time and time again that gun "control" simply takes guns away from ordinary citizens and leaves them in the hands of criminals.  See modern day Chicago for the clearest example of this in action….you would think that a President from the Windy City would know how counter-productive gun control is in reality….Chicago is living proof that it does not work.
    Receiving little attention is the fact that the existing gun control laws in CT WORKED – they denied him getting the gun(s) when he wanted them due to the required waiting period.  He then committed murder and robbery to get the guns he wanted.

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  6. Richardon 19 Dec 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Well, the stupid comments by Pratt, shared by many, that their guns are proof against a/the governments show how out of touch they are. What good is a AR15 aagainst an Abrams m121
    But then again liberals are obsessed with "assault earphone" and  gun clips. The VA tech shooter had is told and just changed mags.
    and a historical note…militia during the revolutionary war performed terribly because th Brotish used the bayonet as their battle winner not brown mess which was terribly ineffective, hence the firing in ranks and volleys. The bayonet scared the crap outta the militia.

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  7. Richardon 19 Dec 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Oops, sorry for the typos. Using my new ipad and not double checking..

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  8. Curtison 19 Dec 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I'm having trouble coming up with figures that show number of murders caused by guns sold in compliance with existing laws to the criminal who carried out the murder. Not counting weapons stolen during break-ins and robberies I imagine the number is something like .0005% of all firearm homicides were committed with a legal weapon.
    No actions you think necessary to combat school shootings are as pointless and stupid as anything dreamed up by Swift or C7F staff to combat crime and an egregious infringement on American's civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
    If it's really that bad, how about:
    Homeland Security arms its TSA agents and sends them all to guard schools?
    The CIA uses killer drones to monitor all schools?
    The FBI uses its vastly expanded HRT and snipers to patrol all schools?
    We assign flamethrowers and armored vehicles to schools in order to protect the children?
    Close all schools since it is much more dangerous to go to school and we do it for snow days anyway.
    Dig moats around all schools?
    Lock up suicidal goths?
    Lock up anybody that listens to 'that' music?
    Lock up anybody that draws a picture of a gun in class?
    Strip search all persons entering a school?
    Implement a 'no school' list and ban people on the list from going within a mile of any school.
    Control school entry by locking all doors and boarding up all windows except one door for use by all entering and leaving the premises?
    Do what the president does and hire the Secret Service to provide 24 hour armed protection for each school child?
    There are any number of ways to limit the gun violence on campus. I daresay that limiting the number of guns on campus is absolutely the stupidest way to go about it.

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  9. Mauriceon 20 Dec 2012 at 1:26 am

    @ Sean, your comments on Chicago are correct.  You can also add DC to that list.  I have relatives in Chicago who don't let their kids go outside and play due to the gun violence.  Yet, my relatives who are law abiding have to go through all the hoops and had to have their guns disassembled in order to have them.  Good thing this law was struck down in Chicago just as well as in DC.  Yet the criminal element, who doesn't obey laws in the first place, will still have guns.
    If you look at the gun murder rate in Chicago, you would probably find that the majority of the criminals would not have had the opportunity to buy a gun legally, yet they were able to get one for use in their crime.  I find it interesting that many of those who say we should ban guns are also in favor of legalizing pot.  Since as they say it is coming here (US) anyway and the interdiction efforts are just a waste of resources.  Yet, now they want the government to go after just as many people to find their guns, when with the gun laws we have now, bad guys can still get a gun if they want one.
    I say, we need to do some gun law reform, but also we need to start looking at mental health reform.  It is hard to get someone committed these days, and the so called "Obamacare" doesn't do anything for mental health services.

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  10. Skippy-sanon 20 Dec 2012 at 2:36 am

    John Cole summed it up well:"Apparently, according to wingnuts and gun nuts, there is no comparative level of mental illness in other countries- they are just uniquely high in the United States. I guess I should not be surprised they reject the normal distribution the same way they rejected the 2012 polling data. TRUTH- there are the same levels of mental illness pretty much everywhere. Advanced societies deal with them and don’t allow them to purchase assault rifles with 30 round clips. A crazy stance, I know."
    We have to get to a point where guns are an unacceptable "hobby"-till then we are just whistling past the graveyard. The folks who are sticking up for guns are exhibiting their own selfishness.
    As Maurice knows-in my last command in the Navy we had to maintain and store a large cache of weapons-to issue to resevists who would come through for exercises and potentially for real world deployments. I trained on the weapons-but it didn't mean I liked them. All in all they were just a pain in the ass to deal with.

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  11. Mauriceon 20 Dec 2012 at 9:44 am

    Yes I remember the pain of those days, especially driving down the entire lenght of one country just to delever them in one location.  That was an interesting drive.
    I think that there may be a bit more of the loons here in Nippon.  Just today, there was a case reported of two women who were stabbed on the Keiku train line in Yokohama.  The perp got away on a crowded train.  You here of many cases of people getting randomly stabbed here in Japan, being done by both men and women.  There are a lot more other strange cases that just don't happen in the big city eitther.  There was a case in my neighborhood where an American wife came home to notice a JN male standing in her parking spot near the door masterbating out in public.
    So maybe it is a good thing that gun laws are strict in Japan.  They seem to have more loons that one sees day to day in the states.

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  12. chefantwonon 24 Dec 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Strange how people come out of the woodwork every time there is a shooting by some nutcase, yet they never hear about the countless of times that a would be criminal was shot by an armed citizen?
    Funny, when people complain about gun violence when they always want to ban guns, how about enforcing the countless laws we already HAVE?
    Last I heard it, convicted felons are prohibited from owning firearms, just were do they buy them?
    By the way, there is a killer out there that nobody has been demanding to ban. Care to guess….YOUR CAR!
    "There were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States in 2005. The financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. 2.9 million people were injured and 42,636 people killed. About 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in the United States — one death every 13 minutes."
    Where's the rush to ban all those cars???? 


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