Monday, December 17, 2012

Clear And Present Danger

Does the right to bear arms trump the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned.  When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
  ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

The latest massacre of the innocents has touched the most vulnerable of all, our youngest schoolchildren. We have let this situation get out of control and not been responsible enough to protect them from now frequent deadly attacks.

When we saw extensive gun buy back activities step up in progressive and minority areas from  Oakland, San Francisco to Baltimore, I was a little encouraged about the change in heart and attitude towards better enforcement and regulation of both street guns and home collections. But the ugly head of fear and hoarding raised it's head again as concurrently gun sales continued to climb as they always have after our more frequent massacres and even the election of our president.

The usual NRA party line talking points were being sprouted by self righteous gun owners online who were vociferously defending their collections and hobbies instead of expressing sympathy and understanding for the problem we have not faced squarely for quite some time.

The hell with gun collectors who selfishly defend their gunmetal over human lives. Why are they now the most vociferous critics of gun control ? Their guilt ? Justifying a little pleasure ? I can not morally place their desires for a fun hobby over the lives of our children. I've been a gun owner, retired military with over 26 years of Federal and State service, worked as an NYPD radio dispatcher, and picked up the bodies of young men for their last ride to the ER multiple times. This must stop now. Take baby steps, but begin to take them. You do NOT have the moral high ground on gun control. I thought it was said that the "meek shall inherit the earth", not the most heavily armed. Welcome to the 21st century and mass murder as a cottage industry freely enjoyed by the mentally ill. You are now reaping what you hath sown.

And here you may witness a military, police and fire service veteran retiree who knows something about the Constitution that you may not. Weapons are not a "protected class" like human beings are. Therefore the 2nd Amendment which was originally only intended for our "citizen soldier" armed forces and hasn't been relevant since the 18th century does not restrict regulation of any aspect that we have the balls to deal with. We may thus regulate our weapons as we do please.  It is worded as and refers to a federal military in the 18th century which was recruited for and drilled at state level. Not the 21st century, where our Reserve forces now keep their weapons in the armory, and we have a core standing "army" resultant from a huge defense budget and constant warring. The "tyranny" that is so often referred to is that of the British Empire at that time, not our own Republic.

 Further, the SCOTUS ruling on the 14th Amendment tended to expand the rights of citizens to own a firearm which I respectfully disagree with, but since I've spent nearly my entire adult life protecting the Constitution (you can see it at the Rotunda in the National Archives) and your right to free speech, there's nothing for you to worry about. Except of course, the fact that you're exposing yourself to more danger statistically than the majority of the civilian population that does not have guns. Protest all you want, but you'd be wrong again. Finally, the issue of regulations for guns also has it's roots in various state constitutions, which makes the reforms we so desperately need held hostage by the Teabillies that took control of many Red states and others. But the struggle over the selfish demands of the gun collectors over the rights of children to live must continue, before you wipe us all out. I consider our offspring to already be in danger because of simple thinking as you display.

A lamb appears a lion, and we fear
Each bush we see's a bear.
Francis Quarles, Emblems, Book I, Emblem XIII, line 19.

So the real question becomes: "does the right to keep and bear arms trump the guarantee to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?". I put forth that it certainly does NOT, since we are not now made safe by the ownership of guns, but just the opposite, we are all now at threat, and gun owners themselves along with their families are statistically more at risk than we who  are unarmed and unafraid. If we survive in this new environment. Look at the shorter time intervals between that last several mass shootings. We have found the enemy, and the enemy is us.

"In one survey, 10% of families admitted to having unlocked and loaded firearms within easy reach of children (Patterson and Smith, 1987). Another study showed that two-thirds of accidental firearms injuries occured in the home, and one-third involved children under 15. 45% were self-inflicted, and 16% occurred when children were playing with guns. (Morrow and Hudson, 1986) A study from 1991-2000 showed that twice as many people died from unintentional firearm injuries in states in the U.S. where firearm owners were more likely to store their firearms loaded. (Miller, et al, 2005)" (library.

(library. "The issue of "home defense" or protection against intruders or assailants may well be misrepresented. A study of 626 shootings in or around a residence in three U.S. cities revealed that, for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides (Kellermann et al, 1998). Over 50% of all households in the U.S. admit to having firearms (Nelson et al, 1987). In another study, regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and suicide in the home (Dahlberg, Ikeda and Kresnow, 2004). Persons who own a gun and who engage in abuse of intimate partners such as a spouse are more likely to use a gun to threaten their intimate partner. (Rothman et al, 2005). Individuals in possession of a gun at the time of an assault are 4.46 times more likely to be shot in the assault than persons not in possession (Branas et al, 2009). It would appear that, rather than being used for defense, most of these weapons inflict injuries on the owners and their families."

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1950)

Let’s frame the argument over the necessity for regulation, which is reserved to the government by the Second Amendment, to describe the gun as simply a tool usually employed for a specific job. It should follow then that for a task such as attaching two pieces of paper together, you only need a stapler, not a nail gun. This makes the use of a nail gun inversely proportional to the task at hand. This is just one of the arguments against “assault” wepaons. You may not be aware that conversion kits are available that easily change these semi auto assault rifles to full automatic. Why even take the chance of letting that happen ? So you can get your jollies firing on full auto ? Let ranges have a special license for your fetish.

 As Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif) said "Who needs these military-style assault weapons? Who needs an ammunition feeding device capable of holding 100 rounds?" Feinstein wrote on her campaign website. "These weapons are not for hunting deer -- they’re for hunting people."(Jamieson Huffpo 2012) Senator Lieberman (I-CT) stated “Assault weapons were developed for the U.S. military, not commercial gun manufacturers,' Lieberman said before the Newtown vigil Sunday night." (CBS News 2012) Of note that should affect the souls of most gun collectors is the technical aspect of the assault weapons that are not common but for some God forsaken reason sought after by collectors. It is one of the most, if not THE most deadly caliber easily and freely available on the civilian market. The extreme cavitation wounds that the weapons produce are well known to their owners.

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak.
James Russell Lowell, Stanzas on Freedom, st. 4 (1843)

 Crime presupposes no special skills or abilities, and able to be performed by practically anyone without any particular training, as we have seen with the mentally ill recently. The basic considerations of law enforcement crime prevention still apply and can be guided by the : 1) Opportunity and the specificity of same 2) Means, or ability to commit the crime (the type of weapon), and 3)Motive, or the reason of the actor to commit the crime. Tackling #s 1 and 2 includes weapons regulation.

This may be complex, but it is not rocket science; many of the gun owning public are responding with selfish defensive statements about their cherished collections during a time of mourning which makes it morally repugmant. I find myself arguing with gun owners who put up both simplistic and elaborate justifications, but it all boils down to me, me, me.

Notice that I have never mentioned confiscation as a solution. But an extensive buy back program is easy to construct since they're already in use all over the country. "A study published in the Injury Prevention Journal, based on a 2004 National Firearms Survey, found that 20% of the gun owners with the most firearms possessed about 65% of the nation's guns." (Brenan, CNN, July 31, 2012) They may be harder to execute nationally, but it's not impossible to legally collect those assault weapons. A little loss of private assault weapons in circulation does not phase me in comparison to stopping even one more mass murder using them. Cry me a river.

"Could the leader of a democracy reverse his nation's slide toward the ever more permissive use of firearms and mandate stringent new gun control laws in less than a fortnight? Well, yes. One of America's loyal allies did just that -- and with massive voter support." (Alpers, CNN, Dec 17, 2012)

Unfortunately the gun enthusiasts seem unable to see past their selfishness to extend the protection that their activity and ownership afford them to others in society who may need safety from weapons inappropriately acquired and used. How many more children need to die senselessly at mass shootings,  from accidental discharges, from misplaced rounds into residences, parks, and the like ? HOW MANY MORE ? HOW MANY ?


US buybacks spurred on by Newtown incident

Aussie buybacks

(Brennan, CNN)

(Jamieson, Huffington Post)

(CBS News 2012)

Cavitation Wound effects (basic)

(Alpers, CNN)


FBI Homicide data:

DOJ "How Prevalent is Gun Violence in America?"

Firearms tutorial:

The gun ownership and gun homicides murder map of the world

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