Sunday, April 7, 2013

Guns

Ever since the massacre of children in Newton, Ct., the debate about what to do to limit future carnage has been raging.  It is truly amazing that even though there is wide consensus in some areas among Americans about what to do, there is almost no chance of anything being done.

Exactly what is the problem with background checks?  Some polls have indicated that up to 90% of Americans agree that all buyers of guns should undergo a background check.  Exactly how would we get a handle on preventing criminals, the mentally unstable or those who have orders of protection against them from obtaining guns without a background check?  Just because background checks are not yet perfected or instantaneous, it does not mean it should not be instituted.   Just because there will continue to be illegal guns sales does not mean that selling a gun to a person with a criminal record should be legal.  We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Those politicians who argue that background checks are too "onerous" to buyers are obviously not responding to their constituents but they are responding to gun lobbyists.

Besides, we can limit illegal gun sales with tougher laws against such illegal sales; if a person sells a gun illegally to someone else, and that buyer commits a crime with that gun, the seller should be held as an accomplice. If the buyer commits murder, the illegal gun seller should be charged as an accomplice to murder.

Other actions that could be taken include outlawing certain assault type weapons and large capacity magazines.  These are NOT weapons that are used by hunters and sportsman; there is little or no evidence of their successful use in real-life self-defense situations.  

In testimony before Congress "Independent" Women's Forum's Gayle Trotter testified that assault weapons should not be outlawed because they were the "weapon of choice" for young mothers who need a "scary-looking gun."  She later appeared on MSNBC, and when asked, she was unable to supply even one instance where an assault weapon was used to deter a crime by a woman or any other person.

Here is a video of that appearance: http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/lawrence-odonnell-takes-gun-advocate-trott

Did an assault weapons ban work to reduce crime the first time it was instituted?  The answer here is difficult to quantify, though the evidence seems clear it was reducing gun crime somewhat. The problem with the original ban is that there were exemptions and the fact that large capacity magazines (LCMs) were then becoming popular offsetting some of the gains made by outlawing assault weapons.  If both assault weapons and LCMs were regulated, perhaps the effect would be profound.  Here is a link to three well known studies on the subject:  http://crim.sas.upenn.edu/jerry-lee-center-criminology/research and also https://crim.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/Studies%20on%20the%20Federal%20Weapons%20Assault%20Ban.pdf .

The Second  Amendment is no defense against regulating guns; regulating guns has long been considered constitutional.  But does anyone seriously argue that no weapon is too dangerous for your neighbor to own?  The arguments against prohibiting criminals and the mentally unstable from legally purchasing guns are ludicrous and there is little or no evidence that assault weapons or large capacity magazines are a factor in personal self-defense or in sporting or hunting.  What is left to argue for are the profits of gun manufacturers and their paid lobbyists.

For this we must let the carnage continue?
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