Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

On Gun Control in the USA


Gun control is a hot button item with liberal democrats and conservative republicans. The desire of the most rabid of the gun control crowd is to remove all guns from everyone except the police and military (and some would take the guns from the police as well!) The conservatives want almost no limits on gun ownership. I believe the reality of the matter should be somewhere in between.

Coming from a long line of hunters (going back to the first Alt’s in America in 1738 or so) I own a rifle and a shotgun. The rifle is an old converted Mauser and the shotgun is a semi-automatic plugged to only allow 5 shells to be loaded at any one time. At this time I don’t own any handguns but have no negative feelings towards them. In fact, when finances allow I plan on purchasing a hand gun for home defense. Of course I will be sure both my wife and I take a class on its safe use from a local gun range or police station.

Now, to the meat of the matter, I am a card carrying member of the NRA, does that mean I stand for everything they do? No, of course not. I believe that Americans have the right to keep and bear arms, both for home defense and just in case politicians get too uppity and decide to try to take more power than they need to govern. And I believe that is the reason that the framers of the constitution put the right to arms clause in there, to remind politicians that they aren’t all powerful. Do I think the average citizen should own fully automatic weapons, flame throwers, grenade launchers or Abrams tanks? No, definitely not.

Currently there are some half baked proposals before the Congress and Senate proposing bans on semiautomatic weapons with some fairly liberal definitions of exactly what is a semiautomatic weapon, unfortunately, that definition would not only ban a semi-automatic AK47 with an extended banana clip holding hundreds of rounds, but my son-in-laws 30-06 semiautomatic hunting rifle. Thus, it is a bad bill and should not be passed.

I am all for limits based on cyclic rate of fire and clip size, but not so loosely specified that it can produce a cascade effect onto sporting rifles. In fact, the very weapons that the bill is designed to restrict are already restricted by existing laws. Most of the crimes that the liberals are saying would be curtailed by this new ban were not committed with the semi-automatic rifles they are trying to ban! The one thing that the liberals who propose these bans forget is that criminals don’t follow the law, that is implicit in their being criminals. As countries such as England and Australia have found, once you make it impossible for a law abiding citizen to own guns, crime rates increase.

Why is it that liberals can’t read statistics? The states and cities with the most restrictive bans on guns have the highest crime rates, the ones with the least restrictive tend to have the lowest. When a criminal (who could care less that he is using an illegal hand gun) knows that a home owner or car driver probably won’t be armed because the law forbids it, it makes them an easy target for that criminal. Some states have already made it illegal to defend yourself, allowing criminals injured by homeowners to sue the homeowner for damages! Talk about legal insanity! More people where killed by bad Doctors last year than by guns in the USA, should we ban all Doctors? More children were killed by bicycles than by guns, should we ban bicycles?

Remember, it is already illegal to own or sell fully automatic weapons, grenades, rocket launchers and generally illegal for anyone to own anything other than a rifle or handgun that can be used for hunting or sport shooting. By law the guns must be registered. Most states require a permit and a safety course.

I agree that before a person can own a gun they should have to take a gun safety course, not be a felon and be at a responsible age. However, beyond restrictions on fully automatic weapons, ridiculous calibers (bullet sizes) and rocket launchers, if Granny wants a semiautomatic AK47 with a case of ammo, the more power to her!

If gun laws will make us safe then why are the states and cities with the most restrictive gun laws the most unsafe? If laws make us safe then we should have nothing to fear since it is illegal to commit a crime with a gun, it is illegal for felons to own guns and the most dangerous fully-automatic guns are already illegal. Face it, the reason most politicians want guns banned is they are afraid that if they really screw up we will hold them accountable for it, an unarmed population is much easier to control than an armed one.

14 comments:

Don Lewis said...

Hi Mike,

As the late, great Bill Hicks said, "Handguns are legal in the US and there were 50,000 handgun-related deaths last year. In the UK, they are illegal and last year there were 14. 14 deaths from handguns. But there is NO connection between having a handgun and shooting someone with it, and not having a handgun and not shooting someone with it, and you'd be a fool and a Communist to make one. Besides, those 14 people were probably killed by Americans on holiday:'WHAT?? Call that a BURGER??!!' BLAM! 'You don't BOIL PIZZA!!' BLAM!"

Mike said...

Hmm, I wonder what year he was referring to. I can only find numbers close to 28,000 which is still too many. As I said, as long as the owners are required to take safety courses it should be allowed, unfortunately many states don't require that. I am afraid that as things destabilize around the world my Mauser and shotgun give me a bit of comfort.

Freedom means having to to make choices, unfortunately not everyone makes the right ones, so do we remove choice from those who do? Or is Darwininian selection at work?

Mike said...

Interesting to note that statistically speaking the gun buyback in Australia had little or no affect, positive or negative, on established trends. It appears to be business as usual for criminals, suicides and violent crimes.

http://www.gunsandcrime.org/auresult.html

Mike

Don Lewis said...

The Australian Gun Buyback: Those with surplus or unused guns would have been most likely to hand them in; those with in-use (whether kept for protection, or crime, or whatever) less likely to hand them in.

Therefore, the guns handed in were, in my opinion, never likely to have been involved in accidents or crime, anyway.

Mike said...

True. Unfortunately as I said above crimials usually don't obey laws, especially if those laws put them at a disadvantage. This means any "forced" gun turnover scheme or voluntary buy back usually only gets honest peoples guns, not the criminals, and so are doomed from the start.

Don Lewis said...

But... surely the main point is that "no guns" = "nobody getting their head blown off"? I just saw this site: http://www.neahin.org/programs/schoolsafety/gunsafety/statistics.htm

And the BIG statistic on that site, for me, is this:
"America is losing too many children to gun violence. Between 1979 and 2001, gunfire killed 90,000 children and teens in America. (Children's Defense Fund and National Center for Health Statistics)"

All the stats on that site are, I would suggest, horrifying.

Don Lewis said...

And another thing... UK crime stats:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs08/hosb0708chap3.pdf

Violent crime's been in decline for a while.

Mike said...

Look at statistics for kids killed by autos, by bicycles or by doctor's mistakes. Given your logic cars, bicycles and Doctors should also be banned.

What is not seen is the number of lives saved by guns or the fear that someone might be armed.

Mike said...

Your data spans 32 years. That is less than 2100 deaths per year attributed to gun related incidents for children and teens out of a population of 300,000,000 that is almost statistically irrlevent as many of those kids would have died from other causes during the same period of time.

Plus, I'll wager, many of those deaths were caused by guns that are already illegal or were owned by someone illegally. Thus further restrictions would have had a net zero effect.

Joel Garry said...

I had a rifle until someone broke into my house and stole it.

The problem with handguns in the general population is that it assumes they will never, over the entire course of ownership, get mad and blow someone away. Or that it is ok for that to happen.

That is why the guy who said "an armed society is a polite society" was wrong. It is the general case among people who get blown away - someone got mad and blew them away. That's also where the "well they could have used a knife" argument breaks down. It's really a lot harder to kill someone with a knife. It helps to be totally crazed.

So you're saying it's ok for total nutcases to own guns without limitation?

Oh yeah, my brother had a Bushmaster. That was cool (Beavis voice) huh huh. It was not a hunting rifle, unless you consider armed revolution hunting. The stock would press against your bicep and you could only burst a few shots to avoid melting the barrel. It's debatable as to whether he was a nutcase. But it's ok, he was police (in several jurisdictions over his career). He also had a gun built into a wallet. "You want my wallet? Sure, here..." He had to get a big liability policy to get that permitted.

On a completely unrelated note, check out this diver's surprise.

word: fildi
word: slychip

Mike said...

Joel,

Pretty cool article! I haven't had a problem ith a freak current yet, hope I never do!

No, crazy folks shouldn't own guns, but how do you define crazy? Now if someone is talking to an invisible friend and obviously listening to the voices in his head, put them on the restricted list. Of course good luck getting a registered psycho list approved!

Baldr Odinson said...

Hi, Mike. Thank you for your post. However, I would refute the statement in your last paragraph. Data comparing death rates due to gun vs. stricter gun laws actually shows that the states that are strictest have the fewest deaths. See: http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/01/important-data-trends-nra-doesnt-want.html

Mike said...

Baldr,

Unfortunately all of your statistics come from organizations that have a vested interest in gun control. I hate to say it but I have seen more tainted statistics from the gun control crowd than from any other source. Show me some stats from a neutral source and I will pay more attention to them!

Mike said...

Baldr,

According to the CDC they don't track those statistics in the way you have them used, which means you or your sources had to manipulate them to obtain the results you posted. Please delineate the methods used to derive your numbers.