Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Nuts

I have, perhaps unsurprisingly, many more Republican friends on Facebook than democrats--which, maybe, is why I'm seeing the dialog from that point of view. Some of it is measured--even insightful such as discussions of why limiting mag-size probably won't help anything--or someone's numbers around what it might cost to put a cop in every school (16bn, which he suggests come from the 71bn Dept of Education budget--and the entire TSA (8bn)). This is fine stuff.

But then there's stuff like this:
When You Think Your Thesis Needs To Be In ALL-CAPS Red, You  Are The Problem
And I have a problem with it.

First Things First: The Assault Rifle Ban
While I know that "liberals" have suggested banning guns, all ammunitions, and small pieces of string, no one serious in the conversation is talking about that. What is actually on the table is a reinstatement of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Firstly, it is necessary to understand that this ban did not:
  1. Apply to existing weapons--if you owned one, you got to keep it, unlike Australia's ban which implemented a mandatory buy-back collecting some 600k weapons.
  2. The ban did not ban "all assault weapons." There is no good textbook definition--there were several "evil characteristics" (a weapon couldn't have two, such as a pistol grip and bayonet mount--but just one was okay) and there were many exemptions.
Despite this, here are the impacts. For 1994-1995, a study showed this impact on the murder rate:
Not Great--But Not Nothing Either
MotherJones, looking at spree shootings of the Columbine type finds this:
94-04 Are The Years Of The Ban
They also determined that semi-auto pistols were the preferred weapon (68) but assault rifles were the second best (35). Most shooters acquired their guns legally. It is worth noting that when looking at mass shootings (FBI definition: 4+ people shot) which include bank robberies and the like, the increase shown here is not so clear. But we are focused on nihilistic school shootings so that's what I want to talk about.

Keep This In Mind
Before I tell you what I think of posting pithy, snide little images on Facebook about the 'real victims' (gun owners), here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
  1. Lanza tried to buy a gun on Dec 11th but was stymied by the legal waiting period. In other words: a law made it hard to get a gun. He chose another route.
  2. The guns owned, including the Bushmaster rifle which he mainly used was legally owned by his mother, a gun enthusiast. This is key for two reasons: (a) Although I don't know when she acquired the Bushmaster it is likely that it was purchased after the Assault Weapons band was lifted (i.e. he might've had to rely on handguns if it were still in effect)--and as we have seen, handguns, especially with lower ammunition capacities create windows during which people can either attack or maybe escape. Also: (b) her ownership and skill with weapons (and proximity) did not protect her. She was shot four times in the head.
One Last Thing: The 2nd Amendment
I'm probably going to surprise someone here: I think the 2nd Amendment should prohibit an assault weapon ban. In other words, while it may be a good idea (and, at this point, I am left with no really good ideas), I feel, personally, that the intent of the Second Amendment should allow for civilian ownership of assault weapons with high capacity magazines. 

Why? Because the 2nd's primary purpose is to prevent tyranny and assault rifles, more-so than semi-auto handguns or hunting rifles allow for insurgency. If we ever have to take arms against a government we will need something like the banned guns: they will not be enough to win against "a modern army" but their presence will be so costly in terms of blood and treasure that taking and holding the USA would be impossible.

So I'll leave that there.

About Those Pictures
If you are posting stuff like this:

You are, in that moment, being an asshole. Why?

The Logic: Firstly, this is stupid. It is extremely unlikely that even if the school was not a no-gun zone that anyone there would've been packing. The shooter, wearing what is now the "dress code" had a bullet proof vest and a high capacity assault rifle. Even a veteran School Resource Officer (now, mostly cut due to cost overruns) would have had to effect a head shot against someone with  far more firepower.

The Tone: What really makes you an asshole, though (for the moment in which you post this, anyway) is the tone. There are twenty little children dead--shot multiple times--and this is what you post? I get that you're all tied up in some argument with "liberals" but really? Who are the real victims here? Gun owners? The 'American People' (who may, yet again, come under the tyranny of Clinton-era gun-banning?) You? Your precious (assault rifle--which you, Facebook poster, largely do not own)?
Here are 12 of them. There are 8 more--and then grownups.
You wish you didn't have to see that? So the fuck do I.

And that--that pithy comment that's supposed to let your point of view soar? To make your point? That's what you've got? Here's the full list of the dead. Go read the whole thing. I'll wait.
How Can You Go Wrong With Angry Baby? What's That? Yeah, I'm Pretty Sure He's Still Alive--Why's That Relevant?
The Logic: So you've got this. Pithy. Let's see--I'm guessing you don't watch Breaking Bad but do you know what Meth can do to you? Heroine? You do? And you just logically argued to make it legal!? Oh, wait, I know you were making a point--a pointed, pointy point--to put liberals in their place--about how bad guys will still get guns. Yeah, I know that. But you didn't just make that point, you ignored what stuff like Meth and Heroine would do if it ran unchecked.

The Tone: For the few seconds you posted this you are not just arguing with real or imaginary liberals on Facebook--you are contributing to a larger tragedy by taking the argument out of the (sad, horrible) realm of the real and putting it into 'funny' sound-bites.

Would you post this if you were Facebook friends of someone who lost a daughter in Sandy Hook? Do you even have kids? Yeah ... that's what I thought.

So What Can You Do?
You can shut the fuck up for a few more days is what you can do. If you can't stand liberal ranting, log off of Facebook. If you are genuinely worried about the US Government seizing the country after an assault weapon ban (which would leave millions of weapons still laying around, of course) stop reading InfoWars--that isn't news, it's comedy.

You can also take a moment and just grieve with the rest of the nation: we have seen an abomination and none of us are unmarked.

You Could Post Something Like This

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