The Problem With The Problem Of Gun Violence

I am going to try and do two things today. The first thing is actually identifying the problems that we have when we look at gun violence. The second is to offer some ideas of things that could possibly help.
The first problem that we have with gun violence in America is the tendency to try and over simplify it. No one thing causes gun violence. We tend to look at the mass shooting incidents and call for gun control because that will solve the problem, or to look at mental health and claim that as the cause crying out for fixes there. We blame the crumbling morality of society and blame video games and desensitization to violence, and that is the culprit. No one societal ill is the cause of this. It’s a complex problem that will require holistic solutions. Our first problem is that we focus in on one thing and have on blinders on to all the rest. We need to be able to look at the issues honestly.
The second problem that we have is that we let the media drive our perceptions of a situation and then react to what we are told, whether it is accurate or not. Knee jerk reactions are rarely the best reactions. There is often an element of the solution in them, but as a general rule of thumb, any reaction to a complicated problem that is knee jerk is the wrong reaction. In the wake of the recent shooting in Florida, the reports were all over that there had been 18 shootings in 2018. No, there have not been 18 school shootings in 2018, at least not in the way that we all think of school shootings. It’s a misleading “fact” that is designed to blow the problem out of proportion. That’s not helpful. Even a sitting US Senator was using the inaccurate number until it was pointed out it was misleading. How can we react to a problem that we can’t get honest information about. The information is out there, and we need to educate ourselves so that we know what we are talking about.
The third problem is that we tend to either put forward the second amendment as if it is an absolute and everyone can have every gun that they choose or ignore the second amendment as if it is some sort of second class right in the bill of rights. Both of these approaches are wrong. Laws regarding firearms are as old as the colony at Massachusetts Bay. Yes, we have rights, and yes, those rights can be limited in some cases. Arguing the extremes is not going to do any good. No, you can’t have a fully automatic weapon. No, you can not have gun laws similar to Australia, Japan, or other nations. Our system is different as is our constitution. Our constitution is a fairly unique document after all.
The last problem I am going to identify here is that we are selective. Yes, 1 children were killed in Florida at a school shooting. Yes, that is horrible. Yes, we ignore urban violence where most gun homicide actually occurs. I don’t want to delve into all the reasons why we do, but I suspect that it has a lot to do with the reality that urban violence is easy to ignore. It’s not one or the other. Well, it is, but it shouldn’t be.

So, as we talk about what we can do, let’s start with a few basic notions that I think are easily enough to agree upon. Frankly, if you don’t agree with these, then I humbly submit that you are a part of the problem.

  • Guns are designed to kill. (Yes, there are some target shooting specific weapons, Hammerli makes a few I think, but they are the exception, not the rule.) Now we can, and do, use them in different ways, but guns, all guns, are designed to kill.
  • None of us reading this want homicides to occur. If you are reading this and desire homicides to occur, please seek help.
  • The nation is polarized beyond measure, and none of us is immune to that. The disease that is hyper partisanship has affected us all in some way, and we need to be cognizant of that so that if we fall into that pit, we can get help out of it.
  • The NRA is full of people. Not demons, devils, or some other evil. People. People like you and I. Demonizing those who disagree with you may be effective to some degree, but ultimately, it accomplishes nothing other than to continue the problems we all share, not to solve them. No, I am not a member of the NRA, nor have I ever been, in case you were wondering.

As discussed above, the problem of gun violence is a complex one and no one solution, or set of solutions, including my thoughts here, is likely to solve it. What we can do is try to lesson it’s impact and try to eliminate the situations that lead to it. That said, there are some things that I believe make sense that will, in some ways, limit the second amendment rights, but do not break them, and have precedent in our national history. They will also cause some of the anti-gun crowd to be displeased because it is not draconian enough. So be it.

  • Mandatory reporting of all violent crime, including domestic violence, to NICS. This includes military discipline also. Real penalties need to be assigned here. So far as I am concerned, the Air Force is complicit in all the deaths that Devin Kelley caused in Texas. Criminal charges should be able to be levied and civil redress should be allowed. The system failed, but the system should not, and must not, be immune from the law.
  • All transactions need to go through an FFL dealer, even gun show transactions. Yes, I am aware that it is only a small percentage that do not, but there is no reason that they should not be. For a private sale, an FFL dealer can facilitate the sale easily enough, insuring that the chain of sale information is recorded. Failure to do this should again be punished with both criminal penalty and civil redress. If you illegally sell the firearm that is used to kill someone, you should bear some of the responsibility.
  • Actually enforce the laws that we have. This likely should have been number one on my list. Law absent enforcement, is useless and selective enforcement is the tool of tyrants.
  • Limit magazine capacity. I think 10 rounds is a good number. Yes, I know that a skilled and well trained shooter can reload very quickly. Yes, I know that most of the shooters we have had are neither terribly  skilled or trained. Make it illegal to manufacture, sell, buy, or otherwise change ownership of magazines over 10 rounds. This limits the amount of ammunition that can be expelled at one time.  Restrictions on ammunition are as old as the colonies also, and I am not suggesting a restriction on ammunition, I am suggesting a restriction on how much you can have loaded at one time.
  • Make it illegal to manufacture, possess, buy, or sell, any item that is designed solely to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm. Fully automatic weapons were made illegal some time ago, and any attempt to replicate, or nearly replicate them, while not against the law by the letter, are against the spirit of it.
  • Something similar to hunter safety courses should be required for ownership. Your course card would be required to be shown at point of sale. Said courses generally run about $15 and take 8-12 hours. For a simple gun safety and maintenance course, it should take less time I would imagine. Said course covers basic safety, introduction to things such as trigger locks, etc. that can be voluntarily used, basic gun laws, and basic maintenance. Yes gun ownership is a right, and it should remain so. Yes, there is a long tradition of gun ownership in America. This tradition included elder family members instructing in the safe use of firearms, which is often missing today, While not perfect, this does replicate that and is in line with our tradition in the nation. For those who feel they have had the instruction, I am fine with them not taking the course and proceeding directly to the test.
  • Limit ammunition available to civilians to the types described in the various international conventions that we are signatories of. This is what the military uses after all. Seems reasonable to limit our ammunition to the same types that the military can use.
  • Laws regarding the storage of long rifles that require them to be secure. The SCOTUS left this option open in DC v. Heller and I find it reasonable. No one can force anyone to do this of course. What can be done is if the gun is stolen and not secured, provide (and you should be noticing a trend here) criminal and civil penalties to the person not following the law.
  • Mandatory reporting of any theft of a gun. Again, criminal penalties and civil liability if the stolen gun is use din commission of a crime and was not reported.

These thoughts are not going to stop gun violence anywhere, not entirely. I do think that they make such violence more difficult to perpetrate, and have some penalties in place that we are not currently using to try and both punish the actions and to provide stiff penalties for breaking current law. Enforcement is so very necessary, and we are not doing enough of that at the moment as well. Nothing is going to stop violence, short of Jesus coming back, but measures like these can help to limit and contain it I believe. I am open to the idea of increased security at schools. That is a different conversation though and is going to require a lot of cost analysis and planning to implement. I have concerns about it however. That is beyond the scope of this blog posting, though if you have thoughts on this, I would love to hear them. Your thoughts?

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4 Replies to “The Problem With The Problem Of Gun Violence”

  1. I mostly agree with you. I was an NRA member along time ago. When they, as an example, only had American Hunter, and American Rifle, magazines. Pretty good then. Then they started to get really weird. Macho express, faux military, commando style attitudes, along with totally polarizing political positions. Their main purpose ceased to be advancing hunting and shooting activities, and became a political action committee machine.

    A few notes:
    Can’t have military only ammo. Hunting needs soft points. Military are not suppose to use soft points, only fully jacketed bullets, and no hollow points. I would like to see hollow points and Teflon coated (vest piercing) banned for civilians. Although there will be a lot of pushback from that. Self defense people like both.
    Varmint hunters will object to hollow points going away. But I always considered that distasteful. They tend to explode small varmints. But if you hunt, you have to use soft points.

    I am also in favor of one, single, gun owner database. Too complicated and ineffective to have multiple databases. If you are not in the database, you don’t keep your firearms. Then, if you become a felon, or mental case, the government comes and gets your guns (with, of course, proper judicial process). The paranoid people will not like this, because they don’t trust the government. But, if you have something to hide, you shouldn’t have a gun.

    Finally, there will be relatively little effect for a hugely long time, since there are already too many guns floating around in free space.

    As a note – I don’t hunt anymore. I don’t view killing anything as fun anymore. When I was young, I was too stupid to realize the value of life, humans or animals.

    One other note…a school shooter is looking for notoriety. I wish there was some way to push their names, life history, and anything else about them, into obscurity, so they will not be made “celebrities” by other potential mental cases. I don’t know how to achieve that, though. And about time to ban graphic violence on TV, movies, and video games. No one will like this idea much, and it’s not going to happen. But we survived perfectly well in the 50’s, without the damn violence we see everywhere today. No wonder so many kids are totally wacko today.

    Venting ceased!

    1. And btw, I also find it totally distasteful that a lot of Hollywood liberal types shoot their mouths off about violence in our society, and how THEY will solve it. Then you turn their programs on TV or go to their movies, and see them blowing someone’s head off, in the most violent way. I have news for them…just because their damn movie is “R” rated, means absolutely nothing. I guarantee that kids watch this crap!

    2. I am of the opinion that open tip ammo is viable for hunting. It is also compliant with the treaties like an FMJ round is. That is why I was not concerned about the hunting bit, but your point is well taken. Not all people share my opinion about open tip ammo. For everything from varmints to coyote when I was in Texas, I used a .223 and it worked fine. They may not like it lol, but it does not limit their ability to deal with the problem. I think that in principle we are on the same page here though. In general, there is ammunition that there need not be access to. People can push back all day, but it’s a pretty easy sell all and all to the majority of people I think.
      If everyone uses the FFL dealers to buy their guns, as per my suggestions, then the serial numbers are all cataloged and the owners known. I don’t favor single data bases because they are not only prone to abuse, but have been abused. Just look at the growing surveillance society that we have. I’m not really arguing a point so much as explaining why I don’t favor that. I can imagine easily a murder taking place and the police looking at the database for people in the neighborhood who own the same caliber weapon and going to question them based on that alone.
      There is a point to be made about violence on TV, in movies, etc. That is not really something that can be legislated however. Parents have every ability to be aware of and regulate what their children watch, but that pesky first amendment means that a lot of distasteful stuff is going to be around.

      1. “I can imagine easily a murder taking place and the police looking at the database for people in the neighborhood who own the same caliber weapon and going to question them based on that alone…”
        I really don’t mind being questioned, since I have nothing to hide. However, that brings up an interesting possibility. Although it would take a huge database. How about when every pistol or rifle is manufactured, along with it’s serial number, a bullet rifling profile is stored with the serial number. If a murder is performed in a neighborhood, if the police have the bullet, they should be able to match the exact gun with the serial number, with the last known owner. The gun data is provided electronically by the manufacturer to both the police database, and the buyer of the gun, at the time of sale. If the gun is resold, and the owner doesn’t report it, he is criminally responsible for any crime the gun is used in.

        Of course, all this is rather ridiculous. A sanctuary city like San Franscico let’s a guy go that was here illegally, had a gun illegally, and kills someone. So much for the liberal antigun city of San Franscico actually prosecuting a crime if the perpetrator looks like he might be a future Democrat.

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