Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Gun Genie

This morning, the smoke has settled. The bodies of thirty-two innocent victims have been hauled out of the classrooms and dormitories of Virginia Tech University. Twenty-six more populate the hospital wards around Blacksburg. It was the handiwork of one man, Cho Seung-Hei, his two handguns, and at least five dozen rounds of ammunition.

Gallons and gallons of dried, sticky blood still cover the floors, a grisly reminder of the single most violent shooting in American history. It beat stiff competition to take that dubious honor--- It outpaced the Luby’s shooting in Kileen, Texas which sent twenty-three people to their graves. It outpaced Charles Whitman, whose shooting rampage on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin killed fifteen. Colin Ferguson’s rampage that killed six on the New York City subway looks downright amateur in comparison.

And one thing I kept seeing on every non-media/ “new media” outlet I turned to yesterday, including the comments section on this very site, was “people will still find a way to kill one another”.

No kidding.

Let’s assume for the moment that I can create the perfect world. I’ve come up with a means of identifying and tracking down every gun that is illegally held by an outlaw, and I can be certain that Americans are perfectly safe from firearm violence. We get rid of every gun in this country that is held in private hands.

I’m certain that there will be a rise in murders committed with knives. I’ll grant you that. In 2005, the last year that statistics were available, there were 1,914 murders committed with knives. Of course, there were 10,100 committed with guns, so we could double the murders committed with knives and come out way ahead. And there’s the added bonus of eliminating “bystander deaths”, for while it would be wonderful if bullets that miss their targets magically fell out of the sky afterward, the world simply does not work that way.

Another thing that’s unrealistic is the idea of stuffing the Gun Genie back into the bottle. I would love for it to be possible, but it’s not.

This tragedy unfolded, perhaps not coincidentally, in a state that rivals Texas in the weak gun laws department. To purchase a handgun in Virginia, you need to survive to age eighteen (Not even that if it’s a rifle or shotgun, which you can purchase at age 12). If you purchase the handgun from a licensed dealer, you have to pass a background check, although secondary market purchases (Gun show, private seller) do not require even that. There is no waiting period. There is no ballistic fingerprinting. Police are allowed to keep a record of the serial number for only one year after the purchase. There are no laws regarding Saturday Night Specials, junk handguns that are responsible for many accidental deaths. And the state government has passed a law barring municipal governments from banning handguns inside city government buildings. The state requires no handgun training, and state law dictates that the municipal governments may pass handgun laws of their own.

Ultimately, could any of those things have prevented yesterday’s tragedy? Probably not. No information on the shooter has come out indicating that he would have failed a background check. He was dead by the time a forensic investigator could have checked ballistics on any of the victims. MSNBC is reporting that one of the guns was purchased last Friday, so a waiting period might have helped some--- Apparently, he held onto the weapon just long enough to file the serial number off of it.

But it’s a brilliant time to talk about ways to bring an end to the sickness that grips America today.

If the news out of Iraq today was that thirty-two American soldiers had been killed in the relative safety of the Green Zone in the span of two hours, everyone in this nation would be talking about ways to end it, whether it’s the left saying “It’s not working. Time to end it” or the right saying “We need to stay in Iraq until the Islamofascists are dead”. Regardless of what they may feel is the right course to take, everyone would be shouting “Do something!”

Instead, it was thirty-two American kids murdered in the relative safety of an American university. And those who care more about their right to guns than they care about an American kid’s right to breathe want to continue on with business as usual--- Only with flags at half mast so they can assuage their guilt.

To hell with that. The question is not “Should this lead to a discussion about gun laws?”. The question is “Why did it take this to get us talking about common sense gun legislation?”

What I want is not a ban on all weapons. That whole “can’t stuff Gun Genie back into the bottle” thing. But the following things are really not too much to ask:

• Ballistic fingerprinting. Don’t want your gun matched up to a shooting? Don’t shoot anyone. It’s certainly true that a knowledgeable gunsmith can beat ballistics tests by changing out the barrel, but really, how many people know how to do that?
• Registration. If I cannot buy a car without a VIN number, and I cannot drive it without a license tag that identifies me on the back of it, there is no reason that the serial number of a gun cannot be recorded.
• Waiting period. A cooling down period is really not too much to ask. If you want a gun today for some reason other than immediately killing someone, you’ll still want it next Tuesday.
• Firearm training. If you’re going to shoot, please do so safely. Again, it’s not much to ask. If you need to kill a guy in the front yard, all I ask is that you don’t blow the face off of a three-year-old in the house across the street.
• 50 caliber. There is absolutely no reason this weapon should be in private hands.
• Safety standards. “Saturday Night Specials” and the body count associated with their misfiring could be done away with if even the most basic of safety standards are met.
• End gun manufacturer immunity. If my car blows up because of a known manufacturing defect, Ford owes me damages. If a faulty firing pin leads to a tragic accident in any of the states that have given gun makers immunity, nothing happens.
• Force weapons manufacturers to improve the firing pin design on semiautomatic weapons so that they cannot be modified to fully automatic weapons.

I’m sure I’ll think of more as the days go by.

None of these things infringe on your misreading of the Second Amendment. None of them restrict your access to firearms, other than insisting you know what you’re doing with them to have access.

Preliminary reports are that the Virginia Tech shooter purchased his handguns completely legally, taking advantage of the lax gun laws of Virginia. He broke no laws before walking onto campus and starting a bloodbath.

27 comments:

Tman said...

Yor are the one misinterpreting the 2nd amendment.

Here's why.

The amendment states the following-"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."

When the states met to ratify the constitution, five of the thirteen states that ratified the US Constitution stated they WOULD NOT RATIFY the constitution unless they could include specific language that stated that Congress should never be allowed to disarm law-abiding individuals. For instance-

New Hampshire, June 21, 1788

"XII. Congress shall never disarm any citizen, unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion."
"Elliot, Debates of the Several State Conventions" 1:326

The point of the 2nd amendment is that BECAUSE Congress must have a well regulated militia to protect the citizens, the citizens themselves must be allowed to be armed so that the government will be restrained from imposing unjust laws against the individual.
The Supreme Court as recently as 2001 agrees- In United States v. Emerson, 270 F.3d 203 (5th Cir. 2001), the court examined United States v. Miller and held: "We reject the collective rights and sophisticated collective rights models for interpreting the Second Amendment. We hold, consistent with Miller, that it protects the right of individuals ... to privately possess and bear their own firearms ....".

I bet dollars to donuts you disagree with me, but the question I have is, would you like to debate this without using ad hominem and strawman arguments?

LeftWingCracker said...

What part of Freedonian's note that this would NOT infringe upon your right to possess firearms don't you understand, Tman?

Look, I'm not for disarmament, but what we have now is NOT enough.

Tman said...

I agree that we should make it difficult to obtain firearms for law abiding individuals, but Freedonian stated "None of these things infringe on your misreading of the Second Amendment."

I disagree that anyone who is pro-2nd amendment is "misreading" the amednment itself.

Freedonian said...

The point of the 2nd amendment is that BECAUSE Congress must have a well regulated militia to protect the citizens, the citizens themselves must be allowed to be armed so that the government will be restrained from imposing unjust laws against the individual.

You're half right, Tman. But the Second Amendment had nothing to do with individual gun rights. It wasn't about restraining the government from imposing unjust laws.

Who were the power brokers in colonial America? The militia leaders. Who held enough sway in the colonies to keep the Constitution from being ratified if they weren't appeased? The militia leaders.

Of course, that definition has no bearing on today's America. The militia proved their worth in the War of 1812. When the British were marching on DC, the militia ran so far and so fast that more British soldiers were killed by heat strokes than by the musket. The militia movment guarded our capitol so well that Congress met in a hotel for years (That's actually where the term lobbyist comes from) and the president's cabinet convened in a post office because it was the only building left standing. Gouverneur Morris warned us during the Constitutional Convention that militia was worthless in defending a nation-- And we should have listened.

The militia mentioned in the Second Amendment no longer exists. The condition set in the very first part of the Second Amendment is not met. Sure, there are still guys in camouflage running around in the woods with automatic weapons, complaining that the government doesn't want them running around in the woods with automatic weapons--- But they don't even bear a passing resemblance to "well regulated".

I don't need straw man arguments. And as far as ad hominem goes, I'll give as much respect as I'm given. If that sounds good to you, then count me in.

Freedonian said...

Brother Cracker,

Thank you. In a perfect world, disarmament would be an option available to us. But we can't cram the toothpaste back into the tube.

Tman said...

I agree that the America we have today has little to zero resemblence to the Framers America. But I believe that the principles that were so universal at the time still hold true today.

There is extensive evidence that the second amendment was specifically designed to protect the individual citizens other rights listed in the bill of rights, as well as protect themselves from a tyrannical government, much like the British one they had just repelled.

Robert J. Cottrol-(GWU Law History Professor) "The amendment should first be seen as a restatement of the principle found in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. This principle—that the people should be armed not only to participate in militia duty but also to defend themselves against a tyrannical government—was a well-recognized part of Anglo-American political and constitutional thought endorsed by, among others, English legal commentator William Blackstone."

Freedonian said...

The current militia movement isn't the only thing that's unlike anything they could have imagined. In their day, you were about three minutes between inaccurate shots. An expert marksman of their time could have shot for hours and not have killed 32 people.

The English Bill of Rights is a good one to follow. Once their need of a militia died out, so did their love of firearms. Gun ownership advocates talk about how England's gun violence is on the rise. What they don't usually mention is that England's total gun homicides in 2005 rose to a grand total of 71. Their entire nation had less gun homicide than Memphis did. I envy those kind of numbers.

Tman said...

I wouldn't use England as an example of a nice "gun free" civil society for the same reasons I wouldn't use Switzerland for an example of a nice "gun owning" civil society in comparison to the US. The fact is that you're comparing apples to oranges.

I am still wanting to know why you disagree with the Supreme Court and others in regards to the 2nd amendment being about an individuals right to bear arms vs. a militias right to bear arms. This seems the crux of the debate. And it is quite clear that from a legal standpoint the individual is allowed to possess in the 2nd amendment.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand most of what you say, on any given subject. Your logic is flawed from the outset. The criminals should be the focus of any attempts to curb this kind of activity, not inanimate objects. What are you going to suggest be done in the case of a fool driving their car into a crowd? Are you going to demand we outlaw cars? Probably not, because that would be stupid, wouldn't it? And so is your argument on this subject. It ain't the gun, it's the fool behind it. If he/she can't get a gun he/she will get whatever they need to kill. A gallon of gasoline can be exploded and it will rock a city block. How about we focus on the fool, not their preferred tool.

Freedonian said...

I am still wanting to know why you disagree with the Supreme Court and others in regards to the 2nd amendment being about an individuals right to bear arms vs. a militias right to bear arms.

Because their reading is driven ideologically rather than by looking at the words on the paper and calculating their meaning. I mean really, "well regulated militia" is not exactly well hidden. It's in the same sentence as the part they pay attention to, yet they pretend that what anyone that's taken college level English would call a qualifying clause. The second part depends upon the first. It's just that simple, Tman.

Tman said...

The second part depends upon the first. It's just that simple, Tman.

I agree that they depend upon each other for the amendment to make sense, but obviously in a different way than you do. I believe that they seperated the militia part and the right of the people part for the specific reason that the amendment applies to both groups. I think if they meant to have the right to bear arms only be applied to those enrolled in a well regulated militia, they would've said so. Instead it would have read "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, as long as they are in a well regulated militia".

There is a good reason for the pause in between the two statements, and I believe it was to seperate the two.

Freedonian said...

The criminals should be the focus of any attempts to curb this kind of activity, not inanimate objects.

Is it your contention that 32 people were killed yesterday by a dirty look from a nutter?

You know, there was an incident last year that my pro-gun pal Say Uncle reminded me of today. Happened here in Memphis too. A guy went berzerker in a grocery store with a knife. Injured eight people.

Killed none.

We'll never end the criminal mind. My goal is to have the criminal mind do less damage. I'm damn tired of this happening. The Second Amendment absolutists believe that their right to carry a weapon overrules everyone else's right to breathe.

What are you going to suggest be done in the case of a fool driving their car into a crowd? Are you going to demand we outlaw cars? Probably not, because that would be stupid, wouldn't it?

Yes, because cars actually have a purpose besides killing people.

A gallon of gasoline can be exploded and it will rock a city block.

Hyperbole doesn't suit you well.

vibinc said...

It seems like we're have a Baptist vs. Methodist disagreement here, when everyone knows Catholic is the way to be.

/snark

Seriously, it seems that the issue with this and the countless other "shootings" has less to do with guns and more to do with unstable people.

Freedonian, I agree with your 8 basic principles for gun ownership. I don't think that, considering the potential for semi-automatic/automatic weaponry, you're out of the ballpark. The NRA does, and I can't think of anything that can melt that tin foil hat. Still, you're right.

tman, you're right. The founders had just come from a Revolutionary war against an armed force that overmatched them man for man, even though we they won. In their world keeping the populace armed was a check against the tyranny of an invasion or a governmental system that they knew NOTHING about in practice. That seemed like a good idea at the time. I personally don't think that this would ever be a check that would need to be called, but I respect the opinions of those (wether I agree or not) that believe that this check should not fall.

Ok, great, we've gotten past some of the bullshit.

Columbine, Austin, Jonesboro, Kentucky, VT, and all the powerball/post office shootings of the 90's had one thing in common, aside from guns being the weapon of choice...they had unstable people using them.

To me, the issue here is not the gun. The gun is an inanimate object. The gun has no free will. The gun has one purpose, and that is to be a gun. The issue is the people. We are a group of increasingly emotionally FUCKED UP people. The notion that we could just blow the fuck out of a soverign nation and they would greet us with open arms and line the streets with roses is testimony to this fuckedupness. We need counseling. We need mentorship. We need someone to SLAP THE FUCK out of us and bring us to our goddamn senses.

Freedonian, I love ya like a borther, but the gun didn't kill these people. Our unwillingness to help the mentally ill killed these folks. According to NPR, this guy was a loner (big surprise). His creative writing teacher thought he was a threat, based on his writings. She reported this to the autoroities...no one did shit. Sound like the story line to a movie? I don't really know what else to say about that, except that it's a testimony to our denial.

tman, I don't think I know you, but your technically correct argument holds no water to to emotional outcrys of the victims families. I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down, but when your BABY JUST GOT SHOT, your argument is shit. Go be right in your wrongness.

As for the rest of you bastards out there...

GET SOME DAMN COUNSELING

...waiting for the flames....

Freedonian said...

They are connected. The first part is not a sentence on its own. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state". Type that into Word, slap a period at the end, and the whole thing shows up as an error.

So it's meant to amend the second part of the sentence. Give it a purpose. The second part could be a sentence of its own; It seems like most read it that way.

Put the two together. One part is explaining the other. They are telling us why they feel the right to bear arms should not be infringed.

Sebastian said...

A well educated population, being necessary for the operation of a free state, the right of the people to print and read books shall not be infringed.

Now tell me, does that sentence say that only well educated people have a right to print and read books? Or is the introductory phrase merely outlining why the author though the right was important?

Freedonian said...

The gun has one purpose, and that is to be a gun.

And what does that gun do? It launches a projectile that is designed to tear through flesh. There's not a billion dollar industry designed to plunk cans in the backyard.

Columbine, Austin, Jonesboro, Kentucky, VT, and all the powerball/post office shootings of the 90's had one thing in common, aside from guns being the weapon of choice...they had unstable people using them.

Right. Unstable people will always be with us. From the beginning of time, there have been people that were absolutely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

But the firepower that is available to all now raises the stakes to an untenable level. Was the VT shooter nuts? Yes. I read some of his writings earlier tonight, and he was absolutely nuts.

And with gun laws at their current state, he was able to walk right into a gun shop last week and pick up an additional firearm.

And mentally unstable though he was, he broke no laws between when he bought that gun and when he took it and another one to a dorm on the VT campus.

I don't even think it comes down to whether or not we're willing... Plenty of people write more twisted stuff than his without ever killing anyone. I mean, somebody wrote "Hostel". It's easy to sit around now and say we should have seen it coming--- The human mind tries to make sense of things that simply don't make sense sometimes. It's just how we process the world around us.

But there's no way that we can truly recognize the signs that someone might be dangerous on this scale. If we knew this guy, we would probably think he was weird, and that he was a shitty writer.

Even if we did--- To what ends?

We will never eliminate the criminal mind. I would just like to make firearms just a little bit harder to get. It might not have helped at all this time--- But I guarantee that of the average 10,000 firearms murders committed this year, we could head a few of these off if we tried.

PS: I'm Catholic. Love ya, bro.

Freedonian said...

Now tell me, does that sentence say that only well educated people have a right to print and read books? Or is the introductory phrase merely outlining why the author though the right was important?

I realize at times it doesn't look like it, but a well educated people is still the goal of this nation.

Now, following your logic... Telling us why they thought it was important... As in "If we don't have guns, this whole militia thing collapses..."

So the fact is, the Second Amendment as written has just as little bearing on the realities of modern America as the Third Amendment. The good news is that we still don't have to quarter troops.

Sebastian said...

Forgive me if I don't share your enthusiasm for reading parts of the Bill of Rights out of The Constitution. You're right, we still don't have to quarter soldiers. And we still have a right to keep and bear arms, even if the militia has fallen into disrepair.

karrde said...

Freedonian--

I feel like a latecomer to this party, but I do want to have my say.

I've purchased a couple of firearms (in my home state), and know that the steps you've outlined are mostly in-place.

Any American citizen who wants to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer must
(1) fill out a questionnaire about any mental illness or criminal behavior in their background
(2) have their name checked against the FBI's computerized database of criminals
(3) present valid, verifiable ID

In my home state (MI), the weapon must then be presented to a police department for inspection and recording of weapon serial number. Michigan also requires a "License to Purchase" a gun, unless the purchaser has passed the strict requirements to receive a concealed-carry permit. (I note that this didn't stop a man from shooting up his old office last week...)

In Virginia, a similar "Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test" here must be filled out. I doubt that VA has a similar "inspection/registration" process, but I note that in this case the would-be-felon was a foreign national.

This necessitated several more steps of identification verification and checking before the purchase could be completed. (I don't even think a one-gun-a-month rule would have caught him. He purchased one pistol recently, and another pistol 35 days earlier.) There is also evidence that if this particular criminal had to wait a few days to pick up his gun, he would have delayed his crime until then. It's sketchy, but he has all the marks of a psychotic, cold-blooded killer.

I also notice that the 10,100 murders during 2005 seems a large number...until I compare it to the 200,000,000 legally-owned firearms of all kinds in the United States. If each firearm used in a murder was used only once, then 0.0005% of them were used in crimes.

To my knowledge, the only immunity that gun manufacturers have is against suits for criminal misuse of their product. (Do people sue GM because of drunk drivers?)

I know for certain that the BATF heavily polices the purchase and sale of any fully-automatic weapons. They also treat any weapon which can be easily modified into a full-auto the same way. (Go into a random gun-shop, and ask the guy behind the counter how hard it is to turn a semi-auto AR15 into a full-auto weapon. There's a large piece of metal in the gun mechanism which prevents this, and can't be easily removed. For kicks, also ask him how easy it is to convert a Glock 9mm pistol into full-auto.)

RE: Saturday Night Specials. I do not know of any gun manufacturer that manufactures substandard guns in the US. Every gun is stamped with a serial number; a substandard product would be the genesis of a dozen lawsuits which could not be thrown out of court. (This would be equivalent to someone suing GM because their year-old car has safety belts which randomly detach for no good reason.) If such weapons were made by someone, the whole nation would know who the manufacturer was. They would have been sued out of business by now.

I note that there is an expensive .50-cal rifle available, and possibly a pistol or two. I also note that a Glock 9mm is smaller, cheaper (though still probably more than $500), and much easier to use. What's wrong with a 0.50-inch-diameter bore that is not also wrong with a 0.455-inch-diameter-bore?

With respect to training, I have some agreement in that department. I note that most concealed-carry-permits require training, which gives me great peace of mind about those who hold such permits.

RE: Ballistic fingerprinting. Last night, on television, ballistics experts were saying that the work they do is not as accurate as fingerprinting people. Gun mechanisms go through wear and tear, they can be filed at by the criminal-minded, and some weapons have very little in the way of unique markings left upon bullets. While it may be a good idea, this method be spoofed much more easily than physical, human fingerprints. Besides, as already noted, you'd need to collect 100,000,000 such fingerprints. (Are you in favor of fingerprinting the entire adult population of the United States, just to make finding criminals easier?)

Your arguments do have some weight to them, but they are heavily burdened by lack of knowledge.

As far as the second amendment goes...that's a subject of interpretation. Do you agree with the interpretation that Thomas Jefferson had? Or with the interpretation of Brady Campaign?

Freedonian said...

Sebastian,

Forgive me if I don't share your enthusiasm for reading parts of the Bill of Rights out of The Constitution. You're right, we still don't have to quarter soldiers. And we still have a right to keep and bear arms, even if the militia has fallen into disrepair.

Disrepair? Walter Reed is in disrepair--- The militia movement that this was designed to protect simply doesn't exist anymore. Ten fat guys in camouflage running around the woods with paintball guns isn't a militia, at least not in any early American sense of the word.

Much like the Third Amendment, it has remained in the Constitution long after the need for it expired. It's been willfully misread by people with a particular goal in mind. They are like scientists that decide on the results they want to acheive beore the experiment starts. Rather than reading the sentence and seeing where it takes them, they decide what they want it to say and bend the sentence so that it fits.

Tell me--- If the Second Amendment says what it says... Then why does every state have their own firearm laws? Wouldn't this magic, blessed sentence cover it all if it's what you say it is?

Freedonian said...

Karrde,

The steps you outline may be in place in MI--- While I lived there for a while, I never bought a gun. But they are NOT the law of the land in Virginia. In fact, most of what I wrote was compiled while looking at a list of Virginia's gun laws--- Or more accurately, the lack thereof.

Any American citizen who wants to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer must
(1) fill out a questionnaire about any mental illness or criminal behavior in their background
(2) have their name checked against the FBI's computerized database of criminals
(3) present valid, verifiable ID


Good, because we all know people don't like on questionnaires.

Virginia doesn't have that questionnaire. If you buy it at a gun shop, you go through the background check--- Buy it from a private citizen or at a gun show, and you don't.

I doubt that VA has a similar "inspection/registration" process, but I note that in this case the would-be-felon was a foreign national.

He had been in the country since age 8. I don't think a guy that moved from South Korea fifteen years ago would have set off any red flags.

This necessitated several more steps of identification verification and checking before the purchase could be completed. (I don't even think a one-gun-a-month rule would have caught him. He purchased one pistol recently, and another pistol 35 days earlier.) There is also evidence that if this particular criminal had to wait a few days to pick up his gun, he would have delayed his crime until then. It's sketchy, but he has all the marks of a psychotic, cold-blooded killer.

I don't know that there's anything that would have stopped this guy. The struggle for sane gun policy in this nation is about more than one day's massacre.

I also notice that the 10,100 murders during 2005 seems a large number...until I compare it to the 200,000,000 legally-owned firearms of all kinds in the United States. If each firearm used in a murder was used only once, then 0.0005% of them were used in crimes.

First of all, I would advise you not to buy into NRA hype. That very same "fact sheet" tries to say that nearly half of American households own guns, when the real number is just under 35%. The same report tries to claim that gun ownership is at an all time high, when in fact, it's at a 35 year low.

(Do people sue GM because of drunk drivers?)

Someone has to misuse a GM product to make it dangerous. A gun is at its most dangerous when it's doing exactly what it was made for--- Launching projectiles designed to tear through flesh.

When GM rolls a new car off of the assembly line with indentations made in the front bumper designed to minimize the damage done by legs when you run over someone, and they market it as such, then the comparison becomes a little bit more valid.

I know for certain that the BATF heavily polices the purchase and sale of any fully-automatic weapons. They also treat any weapon which can be easily modified into a full-auto the same way. (Go into a random gun-shop, and ask the guy behind the counter how hard it is to turn a semi-auto AR15 into a full-auto weapon. There's a large piece of metal in the gun mechanism which prevents this, and can't be easily removed. For kicks, also ask him how easy it is to convert a Glock 9mm pistol into full-auto.)

I'm no gun expert, but I know enough to tell you that you're more likely to get real answers talking to the sleazebags at gun shows. You know, those large, unpoliced gatherings where weapons are sold with no background checks. Those guys aren't licened dealers, so they have less to lose.

RE: Saturday Night Specials. I do not know of any gun manufacturer that manufactures substandard guns in the US.

Bryco. Lorcin. Jimenez. Phoenix. Even Colt and Taurus have a model of junk handgun. Short barrels, lower quality of metallurgy makes them more liable to misfire.

If such weapons were made by someone, the whole nation would know who the manufacturer was. They would have been sued out of business by now.


Actually, pretty much the entire nation DOES know who they are. They constantly turn over to remain one step ahead of the bad publicity. Jimenez alone is operating under their fifth name by now.

I note that there is an expensive .50-cal rifle available, and possibly a pistol or two. I also note that a Glock 9mm is smaller, cheaper (though still probably more than $500), and much easier to use. What's wrong with a 0.50-inch-diameter bore that is not also wrong with a 0.455-inch-diameter-bore?

Besides the ability to fire into an airplane's ingine block? How about this--- If you need a weapon with that kind of range, you're not protecting your home with it. You're not hunting with it. So what use does it have that we should all be okay with?

I would be a lot more inclined to believe what you say about firearms training had you not linked to yet another of the assclowns that think guns in school are a brilliant idea. Christ... Yeah, I'm sure there wouldn't be as many incidents where someone gets to kill 32 people before he's stopped--- But there'd be a ton where one or two people got killed.

Ballistic fingerprinting. Last night, on television, ballistics experts were saying that the work they do is not as accurate as fingerprinting people. Gun mechanisms go through wear and tear, they can be filed at by the criminal-minded, and some weapons have very little in the way of unique markings left upon bullets.

Then m,ost of what you saw is, at bes, marginally true. A filing job would have to be quite thorough to render the grooves on the bullet unrecognizable. Wear and tear would leave the grooves still recognizable as symptomatic of wear and tear. It's not as reliable as fingerprints, but what is? If a ballistics expert comes back with a 90% match, they've got a strong case.

(Are you in favor of fingerprinting the entire adult population of the United States, just to make finding criminals easier?)

My hands have uses besides weapons. Even a car has a VIN number that is tracked and a license plate hanging on the back for all to see. Why are you so unwilling to compare guns to cars now? The same year that 10,100 people were killed with firearms, 943 were killed by "other", which since it's not listed anywhere, would seem to include cars. I can't drive my car without tags on it--- Someone wants to be able to report me if I behave recklessly.

How is that any different than gun registration?

As far as the second amendment goes...that's a subject of interpretation. Do you agree with the interpretation that Thomas Jefferson had? Or with the interpretation of Brady Campaign?

Funny thing, that letter--- It was written thirty-seven years after the constitutional convention--- To a retired English "reformer" militia leader, which supports my point that the Second Amendment (Which is mysteriously not even mentioned) was a bone thrown to keep militia leaders happy. Incidentally, it's highly unlikely that Cartwright ever got to read that letter--- Jefferson wrote it in Virginia in June 1824 and Cartwright died in September that year, so it likely did not cross the ocean in time.

My reading of it--- Two sections to that sentence. One could be a sentence unto itself. The other could not, so it's clearly meant to modify the other part. It establishes a well-regulated militia as the reason to keep and bear arms.

karrde said...

Again, it seems that I have to take your word on faith, or take the word of others on faith, seasoned by my knowledge of how the world works.

In the case of young Mr. Cho, it is becoming apparent that he knew how to slide around the law. Somehow, he avoided getting listed on the NCIS database for psychological problems and criminal behavior, because some victims didn't press charges. Likewise, he probably did lie on the form. Since he likely broke a law about perjury, what new law should we write to make it more illegal?

From my minimal knowledge of gunsmithery, and knowledge of the law from professional lawyers, police men, and others with a professional stake in being accurate, I am well aware that the BATF uses the provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 to severely restrict sales of any fully-automatic gun, or any gun which can be turned into fully-automatic mode without the help of thousands of dollars of machine-shop equipment and dozens of hours of labor.

Claims to the contrary have the feel of professional political hustlers playing with the minds of unknowledgeable portions of the public. (Kind of like when I watch the move Enemy of the State...I know enough about computers, phone networks, and surveillance systems to know that the film presents an impossibly powerful NSA. It's entertainment, but has little to do with reality. Or like those Western films in which a cowboy with a six-shooter shoots eight bad guys sequentially...) This is just a feeling on my part, and I may be wrong--but I have yet to meet proof that convinces me otherwise.

My knowledge of the SNS-type guns in much smaller, but the usual claim is that they are likely to explode during use. Except that government agencies, industry-standards firms, and private reporters have failed to document that trait. If you mean by "misfire" that the weapon doesn't always fire when the trigger is pulled, that is an issue. But if you mean that the weapon fires when the trigger is not pulled, that is another issue entirely. (There was a gun that actually suffered from both, but it was a Japanese military-issue pistol during WWII...now a collector's item.)

My knowledge of marksmanship is enough to know that a .50-cal rifle hitting a plane-sized target moving at 200 miles per hour at a distance of a mile or greater is possible--for the ten best marksmen in the world. Such a gun may have other uses (Grizzly hunting comes to mind), but it's main appeal is the "caliber factor", kind of like the "horsepower factor" for Lamborghini's. It may need closer regulation than other guns, but an outright ban? I don't know how much crime would actually be stopped by such a ban.

With respect to ballistic fingerprinting, the large number of guns in circulation (and the variation within marks left by the same weapon on different shell-casings) makes the construction of such a database extremely expensive. I'll simply pose a what-if: what if the match comes back as 90% positive on 4,000 different firearms? Worse, what if the criminal surreptitiously collected brass casings used in other weapons at a firing range, and spread them around at the crime scene? Suddenly, there a huge amount of noise in the signal with little additional cost to the criminal and much additional cost to the cops. The costs appear to outweigh the benefits.

I have many other points to make--the letter by Jefferson had the money-phrase about "it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

He was discussing freedoms; any imputation of his motives is indirection away from the argument at hand.

However, I'll rest my thoughts about the second amendment on the works of legal scholars like Eugene Volokh. Some of (and his compatriot law professors) explain their thoughts about the VT shooting here.

Don't take my disagreement as disrespect--I simply can't give full faith and credit to the sources you cite, and I hope I have explained why.

Anonymous said...

Considering we spent the better part of week talking about the Cultural implications of Don Imus's three little words...even though we can almost all agree that the First amendment is pretty damn important. I would like to see more of a similar anaylsis of the cultural implications of these school shootings. Put aside the nuances of a second amendment discussion for a moment, and all the facts about the availablity of firearms in America and ask is it something in our water? Why do these lone nut/troubled individuals decide that the way to express themselves to the world is with the pens modern day weaker counterpart? It isn't about death, as Iraq or Tim Mcveigh provides us with ample lessons that build a bomd, blow up bomd in crowded area and you can acheive a lot more death at a lot less expense with a lot less restrictions. You are just as dead, your victims are just as dead and your odds of success are infinitely better. This is all obvious, but despite these facts we are still regaled with the crazed gunmen, who want to SHOOT something. Why is that such an integral part of their scheme? Movies, tv, video games, and the western mythos jump out as usual suspecets, but it seems counter intuitve that a nut who openly loathes society would adopt this specific part. I don't know the answers but I think it is a critical question.

Shea Flinn

Barbara said...

I'm all for interfering with people's Second Amendment rights if it means they can own an arsenal of handguns and assault weapons.


You have to have training and a license to drive a car. As was proved this week, any wackadoo can get a gun.

A cop once told me that the most effective weapon for self-protection was a shotgun. His reasoning: The sound of jacking a round into the chamber is really loud indoors, and can be quite terrifying to an intruder. Also, shotguns do not require a steady aim.... Just point and shoot and hope the spray does the job.

The only reason handguns exist is to kill people. They depersonalize killing because you don't have to be up close and personal with your victim. If your average homicidal wackadoo had to use a knife because a handgun wasn't readily available, he might, might, be less inclined to go after multiple people because killing with a knife is hard, and it gets you all icky.

A few well-placed rules regarding handguns would save many lives and would not interfere with anyone's Second Amendment rights, regardless of the interpretation.

Freedonian said...

I am well aware that the BATF uses the provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 to severely restrict sales of any fully-automatic gun, or any gun which can be turned into fully-automatic mode without the help of thousands of dollars of machine-shop equipment and dozens of hours of labor.

And yet, with fifteen seconds and the same search engine that virtually everyone uses, I was able to find a book for $10 telling me how to convert an AK-47. If you're using an HK, you can get instructions here for free. Sorry--- Not buying that.

My knowledge of the SNS-type guns in much smaller, but the usual claim is that they are likely to explode during use. Except that government agencies, industry-standards firms, and private reporters have failed to document that trait. If you mean by "misfire" that the weapon doesn't always fire when the trigger is pulled, that is an issue. But if you mean that the weapon fires when the trigger is not pulled, that is another issue entirely.

There's actually a whole litany of issues associated with the cheaper metallurgy. Misfires, backfires, accidental fires brought on by hair triggers, and occasionally, yes, explosions. Many states have no safety standards, including the one I'm writing from.

It may need closer regulation than other guns, but an outright ban? I don't know how much crime would actually be stopped by such a ban.

Just like every other consumer product, prices are driven down by competition. One of the favorite talking points of the gun guys I was debating with the other day was that no one commits a crime with an $8000 weapon. And that's probably true. Of course, it's also true that I found them in the $1800-2700 price range when I went shopping online to see how they're marketed. In the years to come, these devices will be in more and more hands. They carry more distance than anyone could reasonably need to defend their home, and enough stopping power to take out most vehicles short of a tank. Where is the legitimate need for them?

I'll simply pose a what-if: what if the match comes back as 90% positive on 4,000 different firearms?

It's not a substitute for police work--- Merely an aid. Of those 4000 90% matches, how many have some kind of connection to the victim? Cross referencing the two lists could narrow it down to one, maybe at most two suspects.

I have many other points to make--the letter by Jefferson had the money-phrase about "it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."

When talking to a retired militia leader. It backs up my point--- It doesn't refute it.

However, I'll rest my thoughts about the second amendment on the works of legal scholars like Eugene Volokh.

I think Volokh suffers from the same malaise as Alito, Thomas, and Scalia--- They start off with a legal conclusion and read the law in whichever way leads to the conclusion they already held.

Don't take my disagreement as disrespect

I don't. And don't take mine that way. I only insult when I'm insulted first, and you've been nothing but respectful in your dissent.

Freedonian said...

Put aside the nuances of a second amendment discussion for a moment, and all the facts about the availablity of firearms in America and ask is it something in our water?

I wish I could tell you, Shea. Other nations manage to allow guns without the kind of insanity we're seeing here today. While I will readily admit that I loathe guns, my anti-gun agenda is rooted in the sense that they're so easy to get that we can't seem to keep them out of the wrong hands.

It isn't about death, as Iraq or Tim Mcveigh provides us with ample lessons that build a bomd, blow up bomd in crowded area and you can acheive a lot more death at a lot less expense with a lot less restrictions.

Those incidents are exceedingly rare in the United States, though. I always recommend reading the Uniform Crime Report--- There's no spin to it. Just bare, raw numbers. Of the 14,860 murdered in America in 2005, only two were murdered with an explosive. It's sensationalized because Hollywood loves a good explosion, but it's so rare that it actually happens. Memphis sees, on an average, three times as many gun murders in a given month than were killed by explosives in the span of a year.

The explosives capture our imagination. But it's the guns that we're immersed in. In any given year, 2/3 of violent deaths in America come at the point of a gun (With the exception being 2001, when 3000 cases of murder by airliner skewed the numbers).

This is all obvious, but despite these facts we are still regaled with the crazed gunmen, who want to SHOOT something. Why is that such an integral part of their scheme? Movies, tv, video games, and the western mythos jump out as usual suspecets, but it seems counter intuitve that a nut who openly loathes society would adopt this specific part. I don't know the answers but I think it is a critical question.

Our heroes have always been cowboys. Not literally, but only when we're copying Asian cinema do we find heroes in action movies that don't shoot their way out of a given situation. Even Star Wars was set in a galazy populated by space cowboys, with Han Solo shooting it out with a bad guy in the saloon. It's forever imprinted on the American psyche. I don't think movies and TV are to blame for the specific actions--- I think they carry on America's love affair with guns, though. And it's always a sanitized version of it too. When Jack bauer misses a bad guy on "24", he doesn't blow the face off of a bystander. I recently watched the Pacino movie "Heat" again. While the climactic gun battle is one of the more thrilling pieces of cinema in recent years, it's still sanitized. Gun battles and war--- Neither are depicted as dirty, grim, and ugly as they really are, and it allows America to love them both without ever finding out what either is about.

Good talking to you.

Freedonian said...

You have to have training and a license to drive a car. As was proved this week, any wackadoo can get a gun.

Thank you, Barbara.

As I've said many times this week, my ultimate dream as it relates to guns is unattainable. I would be happy to see measures taken that keep the worst of them out of the hands of people that lack the maturity and wisdom to possess them.

One of the popular myths of the gun fanatic is that most murders are committed with "illegal weapons". That simply does not match up to reality. Just under 55% of murders are impulse killings where one family member kills another, or one acquaintance kills another. These do not involve these mythical black market guns. People don't buy one off of a crack dealer in the event that they need to kill a family member.

A cop once told me that the most effective weapon for self-protection was a shotgun. His reasoning: The sound of jacking a round into the chamber is really loud indoors, and can be quite terrifying to an intruder. Also, shotguns do not require a steady aim.... Just point and shoot and hope the spray does the job.

Probably true, and for all the reasons he said. Thankfully, TN is one of the few states that actually restricts selling firearms to minors. In many states, VA included, a kid can legally purchase a shotgun.

If your average homicidal wackadoo had to use a knife because a handgun wasn't readily available, he might, might, be less inclined to go after multiple people because killing with a knife is hard, and it gets you all icky.

I would love to have seen this wimp, or Klebold and Harris, trying to run amok with a knife. Some football player would have taken them out within seconds.

A few well-placed rules regarding handguns would save many lives and would not interfere with anyone's Second Amendment rights, regardless of the interpretation.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Oh, and thank you.