Today’s Show will be about "World Peace." Our guests will be the Reverend Dave and Bill Levin. We will go on at 11.
Yesterday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut does not make the country’s Number One mass shooting. That distinction remains with the incident at Virginia Tech. What seems most horrific is the 20 victims all of whom were young children.
Polls indicate a majority of the people of this country favor gun control of various types. 62% favor a ban on assault rifles.
Talk of Congressional passage of gun control laws is fanciful. First, the National Rifle Association has speared enough money around the House and the Senate—the NRA is an equal opportunity philanthropist to members of Congress, so members of both parties have been paid—that any effort at any controls would face stiff resistance. Second, the United States Supreme Court in the past couple of years has given a far-ranging interpretation to the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia goes a little bit farther and advocates personal possession of rockets as covered by the Second Amendment. With the present make-up of the Court, I doubt any gun control measures would pass.
The Second Amendment was adopted in a time when: 1) People needed firearms to participate in the militia (to defend the community from indigenous peoples (a/k/a "Indians") who took umbrage at people from across the Atlantic Ocean confiscating land that had belonged to the peoples for centuries; 2) There were no police officers in many places and people needed firearms for self-defense; and 3) People needed guns to hunt for food. There also was the notion that guns were needed in the event "The People" felt need to revolt against the Government. That notion—like that of passage of gun control legislation today—was fanciful as I doubt the Framers (Thomas Jefferson was not a Framer, btw) intended to provide a constitutional means by which The People could revolt. But I will get to that last point in a moment.
Why do people own guns today?
-1) The thing about militias is passe. Maybe in Switzerland each household is required to keep a firearm for the general defense, but we now have the National Guard and other groups of trained professionals. Besides, we took care of the indigenous peoples a long time ago.
-2) We have law enforcement agencies—all over the place. Every jurisdiction is covered at least by three (right off the top of my head). In this State one has a County Sheriff, the State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There are other law enforcement agencies for specialized areas of crime. I will address the issue of self-defense more fully in a moment,
-3) Some people hunt today for food, but the percentage of people who hunt for food is far less today than it was in 1789. Most people sneak up on bison burger at the meat counter and point at what they want.
-4) There is another reason to own a gun today: target shooting. That is a competitive activity that some people enjoy.
As to self-defense, incidents of crime prevention because someone owns a firearm are anecdotal. If anything, if a burglar knows someone owns a hand gun, the burglar will wait until no one is home (that’s what they usually do), break in, and steal something far more easily fenced than just about anything else. That’s right—if you want to increase the odds your home will be burglarized, buy a handgun and let the fact of your purchase be widely known.
What about people who carry concealed weapons for self-defense? There’s big move for "conceal-carry" laws. Most studies have shown no statistical significance to any reduction in violent crime rates. One study that did show a reduction in crime rates was replicated, but parameters for the study were slightly changed and no reduction was found. In other words, the original study could be called into question because of methodological shenanigans.
Okay, a lot of people are dissatisfied with the Government. There is sentiment against loss of privately-owned firearms because The People will not be able to defend themselves. Really? The Government owns tanks—thousands of them. The Government owns drones—who knows how many of them? Unless you want to buy a fleet of mainline battle tanks, I do not think an argument that private ownership of guns is a check against tyranny "flies."
Gun manufacturers funnel tons of money into this fight because they want to make MONEY.
Short of a complete ban on guns—and some of you know my advocacy on that—several steps could be taken to curb these mass shootings:
1) Make illegal the "gun shows" where no one has to hassle with a background check. Any controls at such shows are cursory. Some are openly scoffed.
2) Ban extended clips. Why does someone need 15 rounds in a weapon? Are you afraid that deer will open up on you? Extended clips are used to shoot more rounds quickly.
3) Ban handguns. Handguns rarely are used for hunting. There are two purposes for handguns: to kill people and to practice killing people.
4) Ban semi-automatic weapons. For self-defense, a single-action revolver would seem to suffice. Otherwise, the point and pull principle ends up with school kids dead.
5) What about the 300 million firearms extant in the country today? We can do a buy-back, melt them down, and build some monuments to the people who have been killed.
Friday was another example of someone who had access to weapons—an assault rifle? Legally purchased by his mother? And the guy shot and killed her?—who had no business for such access.
Oh yeah—and for those who might say "This is not the time to talk about gun control" I say Yes—after a tragedy like this is exactly the time to talk about gun control." Of course, there are the matters of getting such legislation introduced and passed through Congress (get serious) and then past the Supreme Court (get real). So get used to news footage of weekly or monthly mass shootings. Maybe the History Channel can launch a reality show. They’ll put out rankings.