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    Gun Control - A Bad Joke
    By Gerhard Adam | January 17th 2013 02:16 PM | 43 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Much has been made of recent efforts to address the gun control issue, in the wake of the shootings of school children in Newtown, Ct.  While the media plays up the controversy, and various pundits go through the motions of bringing various pro/anti gun advocates on their programs, we find that the entire process is an elaborate illusion designed to make people believe that something serious is afoot.

    Of course, that's the beauty of illusions.  You can imagine that people are actually serious, while you miss the sleight of hand that ensures that nothing actually gets done.

    Pro-gun advocates would have you believe that they are concerned about having their rights curbed, about having the 2nd amendment eviscerated, and about gun bans or even collection from private owners.  The spectre of government is perpetually invoked as if these individuals represent the last vestiges of patriotism in a country run amok.

    Anti-gun advocates suggest that putting bans on weapons or passing more laws will somehow make us safe.

    It's time to call bullshit and talk about what's really going on.

    Let's be clear regarding the 2nd amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
    OK, so any attempt to remove guns from private ownership is off the table.  Without a change to the constitution, it is clear that the original framers intended to protect this right.  While many will try to parse the meaning of this clause, let's leave it be and simply use the simplest interpretation.

    However, what's really happening?  

    There is nothing in this amendment that protects gun dealers.  There is nothing in this amendment that prohibits the government from regulating sales, or accounting for inventory, or controlling commerce involving guns.  There isn't even a prohibition against the government tracking such weapons.  The only guaranteed protection is that citizens can possess them.

    Yet, we find that Congress and the NRA have essentially undercut the ability to provide any meaningful law enforcement, by gutting the essence of the ATF [Alocohol, Tobacco, and Firearms].  While the ATF has also been subject to recent scandals [The Fast and Furious debacle], the actions taken by Congress are unfathomable.

    The ATF has not had a director in six years.  Congress changed that position from being a presidential appointment to one that requires congressional approval, and they have not seen fit to approve anyone that either Pres. George W. Bush or Pres. Obama have nominated.

    Similarly, the ATF has no authority to compile data [transaction registry] or inspect inventory discrepancies of gun dealers.  In addition, the ATF is understaffed, and certainly incapable of even mounting inspections of dealers if it chose to do so.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/17/who-is-b-todd-jones-and-what-does-the-atf-do-anyway.html

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obamas-nomination-of-atf-director-signals-battle-to-strengthen-agency/2013/01/16/a272d4f2-6020-11e2-9940-6fc488f3fecd_story.html

    For those that can only deal with this fiasco in a more humorous manner.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/17/1179688/-Must-see-Jon-Stewart-exposes-how-the-NRA-GOP-PREVENT-the-ATF-from-enforcing-current-gun-laws

    So, I guess we can rest assured that despite all the rhetoric and drama, nothing will get done.  After all, what is more important; Citizen safety, or an individual having fun.
    “A lot of them, it’s just kind of fun to go out and shoot,” said Meyer. His store sold out of the 150 AR-style weapons it had in stock within three days of the shooting in Newtown. “And then also the high-capacity magazine, that’s fun to have.”
    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16544310-why-gun-groups-say-no-way-to-assault-weapons-ban?lite
    You betcha!

    Comments

    For reasons that are unknown to you the following, for me,is hard to do.

    Well said, I tip my hat.

    Hank
    Nicely put. 
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Very sad article Gerhard but beautifully put. I guess that America will always be the world's gun wielding Wild West, exerting her impressive, modern assault gun wielding, hegemonic power, wherever it is deemed to be needed next. 

    Is America still making cowboy films or should the modern equivalent now be called mentalboy films? I guess that the main difference between the Wild West America then and now would be that cowboys usually drew two guns with six bullets each, from a holster or a rifle slung across their horse and mainly only shot at other cowboys in two way gunfights, whereas in the modern mentalboy films the heroes would be expected to wear bullet proof vests, combat clothes and mass murder unarmed civilians and children with assault rifles and guns. Hopefully that would not be quite as entertaining and even a possible box office flop?

    I suppose that cowboys did also shoot unarmed indigenous civilians and children back then too. I remember the Lone Ranger and Tonto trying to prevent the occasional Red Indian massacre, even though like now, back then, there were no effective gun laws to prevent those Red Indian massacres either, especially if the tribe had been suspected of poaching cattle or horses. The Lone Ranger was one of my heroes when I was a kid and I remember wanting to be a cowboy or cowgirl when I grew up, we often played cowboys and Indians. 

    I did eventually once ride around my farm trying to round up our 40 cows, calves and bull here in Australia, before I rather stupidly fell off my white horse Hurricane (no not Silver) and I even learnt how to shoot a rifle. So I guess I fulfilled my childhood cowgirl dream. My sons and I still try to visit the gun gallery at Surfer's Paradise for target practice whenever we are in the area and I like to think we're all good shots. Our next door neighbour farm's oldest son also often rode around on his horse rounding up cattle, then one day he inexplicably but apparently deliberately, shot himself with his father's farm rifle, when he was only 17, which was very upsetting for everyone that knew and loved him. 

    Do you think there are now already young, mentally disturbed, American kids also idolising and wanting to be mentalboy mass murderers when they grow up? If so, then there are plenty of computer games for them to hone their mass murdering shooting skills on, so like me, it should be still quite easy for them to follow in their idols' footsteps. Especially as it doesn't look as though the American gun laws will ever be tightened up enough to help prevent plenty of mentalboys from one day buying assault rifles and guns, dressing up in their assault gear and living out their dreams too.....
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    ...before I rather stupidly fell off my white horse...
    Can someone fall off a horse intelligently?  :)
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Yes they can, here's a pretty good example I think! 
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    rholley
    This reminds me of a poem in a school magazine (as I remember) about 50 years ago:
    Forsooth, this varlet is unhorsed:
    His licence ought to be endorsed!

    A medieval context, it seems, but I don’t remember anything else about it, simply those two lines stuck in my mind.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England

    ...before I rather stupidly fell off my white horse...
    Can someone fall off a horse intelligently? :)
    Ah, but it was a *white* horse.
     
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    ...before I rather stupidly fell off my white horse...
    Can someone fall off a horse intelligently? :)
    Ah, but it was a *white* horse.
    I think that the real problem was that it was a 'white' horse called Hurricane, sold to me by my son's violin teacher, who said his name was what sounded like nice, sensible 'Harry' but was actually 'Hurry' for short.
    Both adjectives suited him well, he hurried everywhere at very high speed and loved to unexpectedly turn in intensely rotating circles, then watch with amusement as I rather 'stupidly' fell to the ground somewhere nearby.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    You can imagine what I was thinking when I acquired a horse with the name "Striker".
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Ha ha, so did the horse refuse to go or did it strike out or was it a complete misnomer? I also have a horse called Ninja, he's black and kicks other horses if they try to get his food but never humans, so far :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    The horse was fine, but the name was a bit disconcerting for anyone that first encountered her.
    Mundus vult decipi
    rholley
    Helen,

    Indeed, a good and pleasant comment to read.  I’ve been looking up the Lone Ranger on Wikipedia.  I didn’t know he went back to 1933.

    A small suggestion, if I may, concerning the placement of images.  The system does not appear to allow plain borders around images, and text wrapped to the right abuts* directly onto the image.  If you change the text flow to wrap to the left, it’s more pleasant to read.  (As a family, we’re into graphic design!)

    * lovely word with an Olde English feel to it, methinks.
     
     
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Thanks Robert, you are always a mine of information and always make very pleasant comments to read yourself. I didn't realise the Lone Ranger was that old either, I was watching him as a kid in the sixties in England. I'll never forget the excitement of seeing him galloping along on one of the sports programs 4 cameras just before the program began and the sport ended. Here's the youtube clip.

    I tried many times unsuccessfully to get a space border round my pictures here, so thanks for the tip, its the one option I hadn't tried. I am about to make a comment below with a picture of guns, so I'll see if it works shortly, second thoughts I'll insert another photo of the Lone Ranger and Silver here and see what it looks like :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    John Hasenkam
    In Australia it is frequently stated that after the 1996 massacre the introduction of gun laws has significantly lowered gun related fatalities. But I have read, though not examined, that gun violence in Australia was declining prior to that data, that the trend line did not alter that much after the introduction of these laws. Now we are finding illegal guns are readily to be found by those wanting the same. In Australia violent assaults have nearly doubled in the last decade, not through guns but increasingly it is "stranger violence", where the violence is perpetrated almost randomly. As a copper once told me: you can never tell when a drunk will get violent. They can be standing next to you seemingly calm and controlled then suddenly turn around and try to belt you over the head. It is impulsive, and studies suggest that suicide is often impulsive. Mass murderers often kill themselves. As a friend of mine says: if a person doesn't give a damn about their own lives why should they care about anyone else? 
    In the USA I can see no hope of regulating the number of guns. Lost cause, just like in Aus. 
    Given that countries like Switzerland and Canada have similiar gun ownership rates and much less gun violence obviously the presence of guns is not the only cause of these problems. The USA has a peculiar relationship to guns which was reflected in a statement by P. J. O'Rourke at the National Press Club in Australia a few years ago. He was asked about the gun culture and replied to the effect that we shouldn't even try to understand it, it is just the way the USA is. Now some might argue that is a cop out but if you look across any culture you may find many things that just don't make any obvious sense. 

    I become annoyed about this debate because while everyone looks at gun control or more guns as solutions the problem is not about guns but human behavior. With regard to the varying rates of gun violence vis a vis Canada, Switzerland, and the USA it might simply be a case of population density. Lots of guns - low popn density, not so much of a problem but contrariwise lots of guns and high popn density increases the probabilities of people successfully engaging in mass murder. I don't know, I'm doing what nearly everyone is doing in this debate: guessing. 

    If I were to attempt to understand this issue I would abandon all the crapola surrounding this debate and head off to the literature which examines these mass murderers and human violence. Would that help? I doubt it because there is no obvious sense as to why we do so many things. 

    What I do find disturbing is that the recent spate of mass murders seems to be done by youths who seem to have given up any hope of finding their way in life. It has been said that our happiness is not only a result of our current situation but our prospects for the future. When I left school there was no talk of AGW, jobs were to be found even in the bad times, the economy was not strong but obviously capable of recovery, the future looked bright and with good reason. Now we are daily bombarded with the bad and the ugly, we are assailed with tales of doom and gloom, a new catastrophe looming around every corner. Perhaps we all should put on a smile and tell the mass media to get stop trying to bring us down so much. We are becoming too neurotic, too fearful of the future, there is too much pessimism in the air. So I recall Karl Popper:

    The possibilities that lie in the future are infinite. When I say 'It is our duty to remain optimists,' this includes not only the openness of the future but also that which all of us contribute to it by everything we do: we are all responsible for what the future holds in store. Thus it is our duty, not to prophesy evil but, rather, to fight for a better world."
    Karl Popper, The Myth of the Framework (1994)
    p. 196, Citation: Deutsch, David, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that transform the world, Allen Lane, 2011. 

    Gerhard Adam
    I don't think there's any question that culture plays a significant role in how guns are viewed and used in a society.  In the U.S. especially it seems that we've gotten into a kind of "payback" mentality that seems to perpetuate the idea that getting back is important.

    In my view, many of these shootings are little more than glorified suicides where the individual simply wants to turn their exit into a spectacle.  Admittedly, not all these shooters commit suicide, but the sentiment is still pretty clear.

    Consider this note left by Luke Woodham, the school shooter in Pearl, Mississippi.
    "I am not insane, I am angry. I killed because people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society, push us and we will push back. ... All throughout my life, I was ridiculed, always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, truly blame me for what I do? Yes, you will. ... It was not a cry for attention, it was not a cry for help. It was a scream in sheer agony saying that if you can't pry your eyes open, if I can't do it through pacifism, if I can't show you through the displaying of intelligence, then I will do it with a bullet."

    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    In Australia it is frequently stated that after the 1996 massacre the introduction of gun laws has significantly lowered gun related fatalities. But I have read, though not examined, that gun violence in Australia was declining prior to that data, that the trend line did not alter that much after the introduction of these laws. Now we are finding illegal guns are readily to be found by those wanting the same. In Australia violent assaults have nearly doubled in the last decade, not through guns but increasingly it is "stranger violence", where the violence is perpetrated almost randomly.
    Can we have some evidence for your claims please? This article in the SMH Australian news recently revealed the startling fact that 'Australians own as many guns now as they did at the time of the Port Arthur massacre, despite more than 1 million firearms being handed in and destroyed, new research reveals. A University of Sydney study has shown there has been a steady increase in guns imported into the country over the past decade, with the number of privately owned guns now at the same level as 1996. Estimates suggest there were 3.2 million firearms in Australia at the time of the Tasmanian tragedy, in which 35 people were killed and 23 injured'. According to Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the university's school of public health :- 

    "Only time would tell what impact the restocking would have.Australia's public health effort to reduce the risk of gun violence led the world,'' he said. ''After melting down a million guns, the risk of an Australian dying by gunshot fell by more than half. Plus, we've seen no mass shootings in 16 years,'' Professor Alpers said.

    He also said that because of law changes, the new guns were not military-style semi-automatics, which were banned and surrendered after Port Arthur, and that handguns were now harder to import into Australia. So hopefully its not the number of guns that matter it is the type of guns available and to whom. You say that you see US gun controls as a :- 

    'Lost cause, just like in Aus. Given that countries like Switzerland and Canada have similiar gun ownership rates and much less gun violence obviously the presence of guns is not the only cause of these problems.'
    Again, any evidence to support your claims?
    I become annoyed about this debate because while everyone looks at gun control or more guns as solutions the problem is not about guns but human behavior. With regard to the varying rates of gun violence vis a vis Canada, Switzerland, and the USA it might simply be a case of population density. Lots of guns - low popn density, not so much of a problem but contrariwise lots of guns and high popn density increases the probabilities of people successfully engaging in mass murder. I don't know, I'm doing what nearly everyone is doing in this debate: guessing.
    Yes, you are just guessing, unlike everyone else in this debate.
    If I were to attempt to understand this issue I would abandon all the crapola surrounding this debate and head off to the literature which examines these mass murderers and human violence. Would that help? I doubt it because there is no obvious sense as to why we do so many things.
    Well it would be an improvement upon reading your unfounded and unscientific guesses, don't you have any respect for psychological and sociological research?
    What I do find disturbing is that the recent spate of mass murders seems to be done by youths who seem to have given up any hope of finding their way in life. It has been said that our happiness is not only a result of our current situation but our prospects for the future. When I left school there was no talk of AGW, jobs were to be found even in the bad times, the economy was not strong but obviously capable of recovery, the future looked bright and with good reason. Now we are daily bombarded with the bad and the ugly, we are assailed with tales of doom and gloom, a new catastrophe looming around every corner.
    Well actually the worst mass murders happened long before these young guys were even born. Throughout history, there have been many mass-murderers. Here are the casualty figures of the genocides that occurred in Germany, Cambodia, Russia, and China. :-

    1. Adolf Hitler – around 11 million

    2. Joseph Stalin – anywhere from 20 to 100 million

    3. Chairman Mao Zedong – 50 to 70 million

    4. Pol Pot – around 1 million
     
    This table lists the 15 worst mass rampage murderers and most of them were not that recent.

    Perhaps we all should put on a smile and tell the mass media to get stop trying to bring us down so much. We are becoming too neurotic, too fearful of the future, there is too much pessimism in the air.
    Now you are starting to sound like the old ladies at my mother's lifeball game or as my father prefers to call it deathball, a form of slow motion netball for the elderly and frail. The only thing I really liked about your comment was the Karl Popper quote :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    vongehr
    the entire process is an elaborate illusion ... that's the beauty of illusions.  You can imagine ... while you miss the sleight of hand that ensures that nothing actually gets done ... what's really happening
    Your reality is your illusion.
    There is nothing in this amendment that protects gun dealers.
    Now you feel clever, don't you?  But is it not the same as that I can smoke dope but not sell it?  May I cook my own and give to friends?  May we make silencers?
    Gerhard Adam
    There's nothing clever about stating the obvious.  The 2nd amendment is quite specific, and consequently anything not expressly permitted is subject to legislation or controls.  If smoking dope had been in an amendment, then depending on the wording, we could have the same discussion as to whether smoking was permitted versus selling.

    Silencers are not guns, so therefore they are not protected. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    Well we already have that same discussion about drugs, that is the point.  There is plenty in important law-thingies (constitution or whatever - who cares) that individuals can draw on to defend their right to medicate ADHD with amphetamine salts or depression with THC/CBD, yet a poor person is usually forbidden anything but go to prison.  Allowing private use of XYZ but not dealing/production of XYZ gets you more dangerous forms of XYZ, lack of control over XYZ, more crime around XYZ, more jailed population, ...
    In a society where you cannot reasonably discuss whether people should have XYZ, all seemingly clever around the back tricks to ban XYZ will shoot you in the foot.  You waste your energy writing on this.  A reasonable answer to the gun problem is: legalize!  Make all drugs available through legal means and educate people about them and many problems are going to almost disappear automatically.  It is the lucrative industry around imprisonment that does not want this to happen!  Therefore, the likely future "solution" is a total psychiatrization until prison and normal society look the same anyway and all sides claim victory.
    Gerhard Adam
    The problem here is that guns are already legal, so it isn't a matter of imprisoning people, etc.  Similarly, I'm certainly not in favor of bans, as you've already indicated, we have enough problems with making things illegal without adding to that load.

    However, taking the example of drugs.  If they were completely legal with no barriers to use, we would still want to have agencies that ensure that illegal drugs of questionable quality don't make it to the streets.  We would want to ensure that the appropriate quality controls, avoidance of toxic substances, etc. are all part of the mechanism.  After all, that is one of the roles of government, is to ensure that the public cannot be taken advantage of simply because something is legal.

    Similarly, with guns.  There are no legal issues in their possession, however it is quite reasonable to argue for ensuring that illegal weapons don't make it to the streets, just like it is quite reasonable to ensure that we don't provide them to criminals and disturbed people.
    Mundus vult decipi
    John Hasenkam
    If people wish to take the Second Amendment seriously does it anywhere indicate that some individuals should be prohibited from owning guns? I ask this because if you adopt a strictly literal interpretation then it seems to me anyone is entitled to own any weapon available to them, including the insane and criminals.
    For the record: I don't think gun control is going to solve the USA problems, the horse has bolted. I simply interested in how this Amendment is supposed to be interpreted. 
    Hank
    The Bill of Rights in the Constitution was added as the rights of people (as opposed to the rest of the document, which is the rights of government) and laws (federal, state or local) can augment or be more restrictive as long as they don't violate other parts of the constitution. Lots of guns are restricted for lots of people - you can't buy an actual 'assault weapon' and haven't been able to since 1932. If they have even made an assault weapon in the US since 1986 I don't know of it. Criminals cannot buy guns.

    There are also limits on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, some towns can opt to not have any bars serving alcohol but the federal government didn't do well banning bars nationally. After a teen committed suicide, we now have laws against Internet 'bullying' - if that sounds subjective and impossible to enforce, imagine if that were a federal law.

    No one says states and local governments can't have restrictions or bans - guns were banned at the Newtown school where the shooting spree happened - but doing something nationally is controversial.  Anti-gun advocates insist that is the only way it will work - it is the same argument anti-drug people have made and, as we have seen, all that did was make criminals in both America and other countries rich. Italy bans guns and has lots of murders with guns.  Unless you ban guns worldwide and create a police force of 10 million to enforce it, it can't work.

    The city of Chicago bans guns but there were far more citizens killed in Chicago last year than in the warzone of Afghanistan, despite the fact that Afghanistan is loaded with guns. A few years ago a crazy man in Norway shot up a lot more kids than we had here - but Norway has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.  Basically, those laws had just disarmed victims.
    Gerhard Adam
    Basically, those laws had just disarmed victims.
    I think we have to very very careful here.  The rhetoric invariably brings up disarmed citizens, or comments like "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun".  This may make a good sound-bite, but it is an extremely dangerous legal position to be staking out.

    While the 2nd amendment protects gun ownership, it doesn't compel it.  So, we want people to retain their freedom of choice and not let the rhetoric drive people to gun possession. 

    Let's consider, for example, that if guns are permitted in schools and teachers become armed, does that also make them liable if they don't take action against a shooter?  In any of the shooting situations, if someone is armed and they don't respond, do they assume the liability for a failure to act?  These are important questions that extend beyond the simplistic scenarios that are often portrayed, and run dangerously close to almost deputizing anyone with a gun. 

    After all, when the argument is that an armed principal at Sandy Hook could've stopped the shooter, are we creating a de facto responsibility.  Is there a criticism now that can be applied to the principal if she is not armed?

    If someone has a gun and is in a position to act in such a crisis, then I don't have a particular problem with it, but we don't want to create an environment of where people feel that they must be armed, lest they be held responsible, and then having even more fearful people wielding weapons during a high energy situation. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Sure, and I don't advocate arming teachers any more than I wanted to arm pilots after 9/11. People who are not inclined to do something are placing everyone else at risk by being, as you say, compelled. What I have never met is an unbalanced person with a CCW permit - now, granted, that is anecdotal, I am sure there has been one somewhere, but a few exceptions don't invalidate the rule.  For the most part, guns are scary to people. Maybe not to you and me, but to a lot of people they are. So people not inclined to be responsible are not getting permits. 

    But people who have passed the safety course and the more stringent background check are still prohibited from being on a school with their weapons. In a 'unlikely to issue' state like CT, there is little chance someone with a permit would have been there anyway. And I am not so cynical as to believe nothing we do is going to stop mentally unbalanced people. I just think the president is tackling the wrong thing. Regardless, it is hard to imagine we won't have a new ban on stuff - and we will have a whole bunch of stuff grandfathered in. Thus, it will not do any good at all.
    Gerhard Adam
    I expect that some bans will be necessary.  Consider this technology:
    http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/gadgetbox/futuristic-rifle-turns-novice-sharpshooter-1B7916613

    In addition, almost a third of the states already allow guns in school.
    http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/14/16468754-guns-already-allowed-in-schools-with-little-restriction-in-many-states?lite

    Regarding teachers, I got an interesting perspective from my daughter from when she was in high school.  She mentioned a substitute teacher that got so angry he told the class to F*** off and stormed out.  She did not like the idea of such individuals having the ability to be armed.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Regarding teachers, I got an interesting perspective from my daughter from when she was in high school. She mentioned a substitute teacher that got so angry he told the class to F*** off and stormed out. She did not like the idea of such individuals having the ability to be armed
    Very good point Gerhard, when I was at primary school in London we used to have a male teacher who threw chalk at pupils to attract their attention when he asked questions. I hate to think of him having a gun as he often lost his cool. Arming teachers would probably start a new spate of school massacres and possibly give them a whole new meaning, it wouldn't be good for truancy rates either :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, there are restrictions on individuals and gun ownership, which is precisely why I pointed out how the NRA and congress have managed to gut the agency responsible for ensuring illegal guns don't get to dealers and into the country.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Even Scalia, in Heller, reitiraters the constitutionality of the Federal government regulating arms. Too many screechy mindless people have been braindwashed otherwise though and scream "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" at the slightest hint of any kind of regulation.

    What is really disturbing is the number of people in authority positions who say "We will just ignore anything that is unconstitutional." I mean really disturbing.

    Well duh, of course you should, and the Supreme Court will let you know when that is. Until that time, whatever laws or regulations passed ARE constitutional.

    They have this backwards. They are not part of the Judicial branch of the Federal Government, and therefore do not get to decide for themselvesuntil they are told they are wrong. The "law" is the law until they are told to ignore it.

    I have a question I would like to ask any of these nitwits, and I wish a reporter would, as soon as they say that stupid shit. Simply ask "Are you a member of the Federal Judiciary?"

    Any Federal judge can issue a temporary injuction, so it isn't like these won't be challenged.

    But the bravado we hear is really the same old shit from the same old people. "I am right and you are wrong no discussion needed."

    But to the subject at hand, we really need to try to make some incremental positive changes to gun laws. I am against an AW ban, but for magazine clip limits, universal background checks, and better limitiations for mental illness than the two we have currently. I COULD even go as far as requiring weapons have a "title" that must be transferred like a car.

    Sure, those are things that make it a litte more time-consuming when buying a weapon. However, they don't infringe upon the right at all. Sort of like how we require all these people to get photo ids and stuff to vote....right?

    Gerhard, the answer your question is obvious: no - even if someone is armed they would have no legal obligation to act. This is the case with conceal carry permit holders under current law, and the only thing that would be required is to eliminate gun free zones.

    Unless people want to suggest that their response to an active shooter would be something OTHER than to call the police, who will show up with GUNS and shoot the perpetrator, then they are admitting that having armed civilians is the proper response. The myth that the police are somehow magical and better shooters under duress is just that, a myth - for proof see the shooting this summer in NYC (gun free zone, btw) where nine people were shot by police in their attempt to take down the perpetrator.

    The reasonable response, to the Sandy Hook massacre, is to eliminate schools as gun free zones and let those teachers that want to carry to do so. It would not be onerous to require such individuals to receive extra training, to develop skills particular to dealing with an active shooter situation.

    It is not reasonable to limit magazine capacity, require gun registration, or outright ban a class of weapons based on cosmetic features.

    Gerhard Adam
    Well, I'm certainly glad of the confidence that there are no legal liabilities, but I suspect that no one actually knows the answer.  I am not so confident

    Given that the University of Colorado is being sued because of a staff psychiatrist being accused that she might've stopped the shootings [in Aurora] if she had acted differently.  Obviously, given that hindsight is 20/20, such a charge is easy to level. 
    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16545060-first-suit-filed-against-university-of-colorado-in-aurora-shooting?lite

    It's not hard to imagine something quite similar happening in a school shooting, where it is later discovered that the principal or another teacher were armed, but did nothing.  Whether there are actual legal ramifications is certainly subject to analysis, but I have little doubt about what the social ramifications would be.  These individuals would be vilified beyond imagining.

    I would hope that I am wrong, but I can easily see more talking heads and gun advocates on programs arguing about their cowardly inaction, or fear.  I suppose that until I hear gun advocates sounding like something other than Rambo retreads out of Hollywood, I'm going to be suspicious that they are serious about anything beyond playing tough guys.
    Mundus vult decipi
    John Hasenkam
    Let's consider, for example, that if guns are permitted in schools and teachers become armed, does that also make them liable if they don't take action against a shooter?  In any of the shooting situations, if someone is armed and they don't respond, do they assume the liability for a failure to act?  These are important questions that extend beyond the simplistic scenarios that are often portrayed, and run dangerously close to almost deputizing anyone with a gun.  
    Let's not forget that teaching is a highly stressful profession with high rates of depression. And then remember that the NRA wants guns away from people who suffer mental illness. That's a nice little conundrum they have there. 



    As for going after the mental health profession, that's ridiculous and reflects a profound ignorance concerning the challenges of modern psychiatry.


    Thanks re the Second Amendment info Hank. I was thinking that a certain absolutism had crept into the minds of too many. 
    Stellare
    I honestly do not think the density of guns is the problem. I think Hank mentioned that Norway has a very strict gun policy. I would say yes and no. Many people do own guns -yes plural, in Norway. If you want to own a gun you have to get approval (if you are not a criminal that is no problem) and you need to pass a test (also not a problem) It is particularly the training (for the test and subsequent use of the gun) that is key here. As a child I watched my father practice for hunt. I was mesmerized by the lovely shiny leftovers and played with them making all sorts of patterns. What I also observed was a great respect for the weapon.  Never ever point at anybody, not even with an unloaded weapon, always make sure everybody is behind you when you shoot, when you leave your weapon make sure it is unloaded etc. etc.

    Rifle shooting etc is a great sport in this country and we have had some excellent shooters. My son started very young to attend these trainings and as I came with him I saw that the kids learn respect for the weapons just like I learned from my father.

    It is very much in the culture.

    Now, the shootings that we see; the Utøya shooting in Norway and the school shootings in the US have nothing to do with guns really. It is something else entirely and if one keep focusing on the guns one will never be able to protect society against these tragedies. It is systemic and psychological malfunctioning and nothing else. Addressing those problems will be smarter. Other than that, I think we have to expect some abnormal behaviour not matter what. So is the nature of humans.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Yes. It has been said too many times to count, but it is nevertheless true. Guns aren't the problem. People are.

    If you were somehow able to dematerialize all of the guns in the world, the murder of innocents would continue. Perhaps with explosives, chemicals, bacteria, or whatever, the results would be the same; the deranged will find a way to accomplish their goal.

    If you were somehow able to dematerialize all of the guns in the world, the murder of innocents would continue. Perhaps with explosives, chemicals, bacteria, or whatever, the results would be the same; the deranged will find a way to accomplish their goal.
    That I doubt. I am no expert on mental health but I strongly suspect "the deranged" do not often have a simple goal of murdering innocents. Perhaps the "normal" complex of emotions that makes most of us recoil in horror gets twisted - who really knows? But surely the crazy who decides to kill some kids and then looks round for an effective way to do it is a rarity? I would have thought that emotions and role-playing are the key and then you are looking at what part guns have played in popular culture - from fictional anti-heros to the very real power cop swinging his gun at an old lady motorist whom he has just pulled over. Poisoning your neighbours quietly lacks the glamour and fun of shooting them up like in the movies.
     
    You may be right. I was thinking, in particular, about an instance right in my own backyard.
    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/oklahoma-city-bombing

    “The human toll was still more devastating: 168 souls lost, including 19 children, with several hundred more injured.”
    No guns were involved.

    Gerhard Adam
    Guns aren't the problem. People are.
    To a degree this is true, but isn't entirely accurate.  After all, we wouldn't extend this argument to rocket launchers, or missiles, or tanks, or nuclear weapons.  If there were only a dozen guns in the U.S. then clearly there would be no problem in their whereabouts.

    The problem is what it has always been; proliferation.  In the U.S., because of the constitutional protection, it is something that can't be curtailed, but equally it means that we must be even more diligent about who should have access to such weapons.  Instead, we've chosen to ignore all the control issues that focus on illegal weapons, or criminals obtaining weapons, or keeping track of weapons transactions.  We don't even have a requirement that an owner report a weapon as stolen. 

    In my view, these are fundamental problems.  Certainly there isn't the remotest probability of a ban, and I would agree that such a position is simply untenable, both legally and logistically.

    However, we also can't simply keep shaking our heads and tsk tsk about human behavior.  We already know humans are going to behave this way.  That's why we're prepared to go to war to avoid nuclear proliferation.  We know that once such weapons go beyond an ability to track them, then we cannot control who may obtain them.

    There is a direct correlation, because it invariably involves the ability of individuals to obtain weapons that can perpetrate greater and greater amounts of destruction with absolutely no accountability for who obtains these weapons.

    As I said, this isn't about banning weapons, nor about restricting gun ownership, although we have clearly restricted the types of weapons individuals can own, despite the ambiguous wording in the constitution.  So, there is no constitutional violation if there are restrictions on the ability of weapons to maximize their destructive power. 

    Certainly people are the problem, but unless we're prepared to just shrug our shoulders and ignore the problem, that one will always be with us.  I get that there are responsible gun owners, just as there are those that will drive their automobiles responsibly.  However, we also know that there are those that will drive recklessly or dunk or in all manner of irresponsible ways.  Consequently we do what we can to try and provide controls to ensure that these individuals don't "get away with it".

    We can hold a bartender liable for serving drinks to a drunken patron if they later get in their car and injure someone, however we only "recommend" that a gun dealer not sell a gun to an intoxicated consumer.
    ATF ATTORNEY ERIKA RITT: If you observe a buyer who appears to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, and it appears their judgment may be impaired, you may want to deny the sale.  Not because it would be a violation of the Gun Control Act to complete the sale... but because that person's judgment is likely impaired.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/17/1179688/-Must-see-Jon-Stewart-exposes-how-the-NRA-GOP-PREVENT-the-ATF-from-enforcing-current-gun-laws#
    Mundus vult decipi
    Stellare
    I guess what you would want is something along the lines we have here in Norway? Although we can all have guns if we so wish, there are regulations that one will have to respect. We have to register weapon, explicitly get a permit, there are regulation for how to store the weapon etc. Pretty much regulations that provide some control, but yet not removing the possibility to own.

    By the way, automatic weapons (assault weapon) are not allowed. Only weapons for hunting and sports. And you have to be a member of a club if you want to own a pistol.

    I wouldn't know how to address the gun issues in the US, just to have said that. The culture is very different from ours - reflected among others in your Constitution. Even if the US in principle could get inspired from how we handle weapons here, it will always be taken into consideration that Norway is one of these evil socialist countries. How could anybody possibly listen to us? hahahaha


    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Gerhard Adam
    Yes, just to show you how dysfunctional things are in the U.S. consider this story.
    In Minnesota, Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole told constituents in a letter that he would "refuse" to carry out any federal law that infringed on his interpretation of the Second Amendment.
    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16547387-some-sheriffs-vow-not-to-enforce-obamas-gun-plan-anti-violence-groups-praise-measures?lite
    In my view, these sheriffs should be criminally prosecuted if they failed to enforce the law.  They think that their jurisdictions are their private fiefdoms.  It doesn't take much imagination to see how these fools undermine respect for authority in our society.

    What I find particularly offensive is that these same bozos will arrest someone else for doing something, while they personally determine what laws they wish to enforce?  Such behavior is the true tyranny that these individuals supposedly want to resist.  It's sheer idiocy.

    I'm sure there is no specific solution to our problems.  What I am advocating is that we at least do the minimum necessary to ensure that we do not have completely uncontrolled proliferation of weapons.  The fact that a criminal can obtain a weapon is simply inexcusable.  The fact that we don't want to track illegal weapons is inexcusable.  We're talking about enforcing existing laws and then lacking the backbone to even engage in that action responsibly.
    Mundus vult decipi
    First, I should say that I am a gun owner. I started competitive pistol shooting at age fourteen and became quite good at it. I have been a big game hunter for most of my adult life. I am no stranger to the effects of pulling a trigger.

    That said, your last paragraph is, in my estimation, accurate on all counts. It is a sad fact that a criminal can obtain any firearm that they would wish, and turn it into a weapon. Short of countrywide confiscation, which we know is impossible; there is no way to keep the criminals from getting what they want. Likewise, tracking of illegal firearms is a practical impossibility. Depending on your definition of ‘legal’, we cannot even track legal ones.

    I think you’re right. We the people do lack the spine to say to our lawmakers and enforcers “Enough is already too much. Do something substantial and specific about the problem now!”

    I remain pessimistic.

    Gerhard Adam
    I fully appreciate the difficulties in any enforcement effort and I'm certainly not naive about it.  However, when it seems that we go out of our way to ensure that the agencies responsible lack personnel, funding, etc. it's just hard to take the rhetoric seriously.

    One of my biggest disappointments is in the NRA, because I really believe that this group has the potential to provide some meaningful information and nuance to some of the problems we want to solve.  However, it is equally apparent that they are so narrowly focused on their own self-interest, they really don't give a damn about what anyone else may want.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    This cartoon by Cathy Wilcox was in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Saturday and I thought it well worth sharing here :)
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    @Gerhard: Your comments on the NRA are spot on. Those, and a few others, are reasons why I dropped my membership. Over the years the mission, if there is one, changed dramatically.

    I suppose that similar changes have come to other organizations whose original aims have been subverted to the desire raise funds rather than to serve the purposes for which they were originally organized. One such organization that comes to mind sells pink ribbons, ostensibly for a cure. Yet the majority of the funds received do not go toward funding research (anecdotal info, so I may be wrong).

    Yes, the NRA could be, perhaps should be, the leading proponent for sanity and reason on issues gun related. That does not appear to be the case. From the published stances they take, you would think that the COMMIES were about to storm in the front door and forcibly take away our guns. Sad.

    @Helen: Perhaps the cartoon was intended to be funny but the message behind it is not. It is too true for words.

    @All: From what I can determine, none of the gun laws currently on the books could have prevented this latest slaughter of innocents. Of the proposals the I have heard that are likely to be considered, only the reduction of magazine capacity would have limited the death toll. That would have reduced the numbers but not the pain and heartache of the family members whose children were not part of the reduction.

    This is a thorny problem, which I don’t have an answer for. People are undoubtedly the strangest critters on the face of this planet. Witness the reported surge is sales of firearms of the type used. Why? What legal, reasonable, practical, rational, issue makes the ownership of one of these firearms desirable?

    I it just a redneck reaction? (I get to use that term because demographically I’m a redneck) Do a large majority think that we are going to war within our boundaries? Or is it just a testosterone fix? Is it the mindset that says ‘hey, those others have one of them there high-power shooters. I’d better have some so’s I can defend myself’? Personally, I’d rather have body armor than another firearm, but that’s just me.

    This situation (gun violence) may well be another indication of the functional failure or our society.

    Gerhard Adam
    Frank, I don't think there is a global answer.  Obviously we can't have the government acting as our parents and try to elicit behaviors from us.

    The problem must be addressed from individuals and their neighbors.  People need to pay attention.  They need to watch those around them that may represent a threat.  This doesn't mean they need to become vigilantes, but it does mean that we have to individually take our responsibilities seriously and to recognize when someone within our sphere of acquaintance represents a threat.

    Part of the difficulty in modern society is the ease with which individuals can become anonymous.  I can appreciate that people wish to preserve their privacy, but one of the benefits of local communities is that no one is completely isolated.  For example, we can clearly see one of the problems with the shooters in Columbine was their ability to maintain their secrecy. 

    If this is coupled with people taking gun ownership seriously, so that they recognize that NO ONE is to be trusted with weapons without the owner's control or supervision.  I don't care if its your kids, or your parents.  If they are your weapons, then they are your responsibility. 

    Every one of the current tragedies is a direct result of someone's kid going someplace the parents never expected.  Therefore the notion that anyone, including family members, is exempt from scrutiny needs to stop.  I also have guns, and as much as I trust my daughters [they are all adults], they do not have access to them.  If they are minors they don't need access, and if they are adults they can acquire their own.

    I get that we all think that nothing is ever going to happen in our families, but then that's undoubtedly what every parent of these school shooters thought.

    In addition, we absolutely must take mental health issues seriously.  The idea that parents having trouble with their kids can't get help is simply unacceptable.  These kids should not have to commit crimes before anyone pays attention.

    Of course, no matter what we do there will never be an guarantees of safety.  However, unless and until we begin to take these issues seriously we aren't even doing the minimum to mitigate these problems.
    Mundus vult decipi