17 December 2012

2012's Mass Shootings And Some "Gun Control" Observations

I don't like to repost articles from other places, however, because the conversation is reaching fever pitch I believe factual discussion is necessary, over knee-jerk emotionalism. I've got five kids of my own, ranging in ages from 18 months to 18 years, two girls and three boys. Tragedy isn't a powerful enough word to describe what transpired in Connecticut. I've been 'emotional' since it happened, constantly running the what if it was my kid or wife through my mind. I can't begin to describe where my mind has gone as a result. What I believe though, is we need to approach the problem with a level head, facts, science, and yes, common sense.

From ZeroHedge. It is most definitely worth your time, irregardless of your current position on the matter.

With the resurgence of gun control politics storming to stage center over the past 72 hours, and providing yet another fulcrum point of social division precisely at the time when the nation is already hopelessly divided on other key political talking points which look set to push the Fiscal Cliff debate unresolved into 2013, below we provide two useful benchmarks to frame the "gun debate." The first, courtesy of WaPo, is an interactive chart of all mass shootings, including all the relevant details, taking place in 2012. The second, is a dispassionate and fact-based observation courtesy of BusinessWeek of the realities and challenges facing politicians, and the broader society, as America grapples with 200+ years of Second amendment history on one hand, and a society that is ever more "troubled", and increasingly prone to violence and murder on the other.

First, click on the chart below for a jump to the WaPo's succinct and interactive chart showing all 2012 mass murders.

Second, we recommend everyone read the following narrative from BusinessWeek's Paul Barrett, titled "A Post-Newtown Guide to the Gun Control Policy Debate", in which without any attempt to score political brownie points (a rare occurrence these days), the author "reviews some of the proposals that politicians and others will talk about in coming weeks."

From BusinessWeek:

Demonization A couple of weeks before Newtown, our premier sports broadcaster used his Sunday Night Football halftime soapbox to issue a heartfelt appeal for reducing the prevalence of handguns. Responding to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, Bob Costas said, said: “Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.” Similar pained cries have echoed in the wake of the Connecticut disaster —for example, this column by the New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik, entitled, “Newtown and the Madness of Guns.”

The emotionalism is understandable. Yet railing against guns in general gets us nowhere. What are Costas and Gopnik suggesting? Confiscating some, most, or all of the 300 million firearms already in private hands? The Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, says that’s not happening. Our democratically grounded political system says that’s not happening. The United States, for better or worse, is a gun culture. Nearly half of American households have one or more guns, according to Gallup. Publicly mourning the degree to which firearms are woven into the fabric of our society only plays into the hands of those who contend that any discussion about regulating guns is a pretext for prohibition. The hard truth for gun foes is that the firearms are out there, and they’re not going away.

Assault weapons President Barack Obama supports a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, according to White House aides. After asserting this position during his 2008 campaign, Obama dropped it, fearing a politically costly fight with the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress. The Newtown shooting revives the issue because the killer used an assault weapon—more precisely, a semiautomatic military-style rifle—to kill most, and possibly all, his victims, according to the Connecticut medical examiner.

We tried an assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004. It didn’t work. To avoid the restrictions of a poorly written law, gun manufacturers simply made cosmetic design changes and then enjoyed a sales boom. American gun enthusiasts reliably buy more of any make or model opponents want to deny them. Moreover, while black matte military-style rifles may look especially ominous to the uninitiated, they’re not more lethal, shot-for-shot, than grandpa’s wooden-stock deer hunting rifle (which is derived from an earlier generation of military weapons). Fully automatic machine guns—capable of firing a stream of bullets as long as the trigger is depressed—are already unavailable, unless you have a special permit. And finally, any proposal to ban the manufacture and sale of new assault weapons would do nothing about the many millions lawfully owned by private citizens. Democrats are not going to propose impounding rifles already in private gun racks.

Large-capacity magazines The coming proposals to limit the size of magazines, the spring-loaded boxes that contain ammunition, are more relevant, if no less controversial, than assault weapons “bans.” In a mass killing, the lethality of a semiautomatic rifle (or pistol) relates to how quickly and often the shooter can fire before reloading. Law enforcement officials said Sunday that the Newtown shooter used multiple 30-round magazines with his rifle, firing something on the order of 100 rounds in a very short period.

It’s not difficult to buy a 50-round “drum” magazine. Banning civilians from owning such magazines, it seems to me, would not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. Perhaps the same could be said for 30-round magazines, or 20-round magazines. Choosing the cap is necessarily arbitrary. The assault weapons ban of 1994-2004 prohibited the manufacture and sale of new magazines exceeding 10 rounds. In theory, we could reinstitute that rule.

The problem with restricting magazine capacity is that to make such a limitation meaningful, Congress would have to ban the possession of large magazines, not just the sale of new ones. Otherwise, the millions of big magazines already on the market will provide an ample supply to future mass killers. As a matter of political and law enforcement reality, are lawmakers prepared to send sheriffs and police out to take away all privately owned magazines exceeding 10 rounds? In the 1990s, the answer was no. Has that changed? I doubt it.

Background checks Here is where there’s room for achievable, meaningful improvement. The existing computerized background-check system screens out felons, minors, and other prohibited categories. The system has gaps, however. It covers only sales by federally licensed firearm dealers. “Private collectors” are allowed to sell guns without background checks. By some estimates, 40 percent of all sales slip through this gaping loophole. It ought to be closed. Nonlicensed sellers could be required to conduct their transactions via a licensed dealer, who would receive a small fee.

Improving the background-check system would make it more difficult for some significant number of shady characters to obtain guns. (They could still acquire them illegally, of course.) The Newtown shooter tried to buy a rifle at a local store shortly before his rampage and was turned away when he wouldn’t submit to a background check.

However, an improved background-check system would not have stopped the Newtown killer from doing what he did: scooping up his mother’s legally acquired guns before shooting her and all those teachers and children. Mass killers tend to be young men who, despite deranged minds and evil hearts, prepare carefully. Some have clean records before going berserk. Others obtain their weaponry from relatives or friends. Fixing background checks is worth doing. It won’t stop the next Newtown.

Mental illness Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Congress and executive branch agencies at the federal and state level can do more to make sure that disparate and often disorganized records of individuals who’ve been found to have serious mental health problems find their way into the background-check system. The law already prohibits people who’ve been adjudicated mentally ill from buying firearms. We need to do a better job of collecting and disseminating the relevant information.

Many who are dangerously mentally ill escape treatment that would prevent them from harming themselves and others. Short of mass murder, hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people commit crimes and end up in prison without adequate antipsychotic medication. It’s too difficult for relatives, friends, teachers, and others to civilly commit dangerously mentally ill individuals before they do harm.

Taking steps well short of incarceration—our current de facto policy for warehousing the dangerously mentally ill—would be a humane alternative for all concerned, and it could prevent school shootings. This is not gun control, per se, yet it deserves urgent attention.

Personal responsibility People who own guns need to keep them away from children and psychologically troubled members of their households. With the right to own firearms comes great responsibility. We don’t yet know all the details about the Newtown killer and his deceased mother. Yet it’s hard to imagine what she was thinking: a disturbed, antisocial, 20-year-old son and a half-dozen guns?

The most important gun control can’t be legislated. It’s common sense.


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    1. Although this blog is on a more focused topic on gun control, I think it needs to be mentioned about some of the evidence of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Now that we have been able to collect more evidence, it seems that some major facts have not seen the day of light. For instance, According to some of the witnesses, there were 2 other suspects that were apprehended. One next to the shed, and one running into the woods behind the school. One child interview on T. V. even spoke about the man running into the woods. A helecopter even filmed the suspect running into the woods, and was apprehended. According to what I heard one of the suspects was lead off in handcuffs. And what about the assault weapon that Lanza allegedly used. Well according to what I have read, lanza's assault weapon was found still in his trunk while Lanza lay dead in the school.. But, did anyone of you hear about the these 2 suspects, the following day? Or, Lanza's assault weapon left in the trunk? For me there are just too many holes in this story.
      We must be vigilant and aware of possible false flags. I'm not saying it was , but to me I'm very wary about the whole incident.

  2. I liked what you said here Jim. I live 30 minutes from the nightmare that happened and it's become a media and gov't free for all. So many loops in the stories.. too much focus on the wrong angles. I heard a lot of the actual event on the police scanners.. things aren't lining up and it seems that someone has an agenda with all of this. What a tragedy.. instead of focusing on what matters.. it's turned into something bigger.

    They announced he had an AR15 when helicopter footage shows a shotgun being removed from his trunk (unused). There were also eye witnesses seeing multiple shooters, and multiple arrests with others with firearms, the news had helicopter footage of a police chase into the woods of a man who was running from the school after a teacher told the police one of the 'shooters' was getting away. Unfortunately with all the false coverage, and confusion.. a lot of the footage was removed instantly. Too many loopholes and coincidences and they're focusing everything on 'assault weapons' when really the issue is mental illnesses and overuse of handing out medication like candy to people that need special attention and help.

    The news is disgusting, and it's a shame what this is turning into now.

    Glad there are others out there that aren't just believing whatever the lie box is telling them.

  3. The media like to demonize weapons like the AR-15. The big evil "Black Rifle"...in this case they have been concentrating the fact it was a Bushmaster. Such a sinister name bringing fear to the sheeple. Its just a brand name. Smith and Wesson makes an AR, so does SIG, so do dozens of other manufactures. Our country has always had guns. Our freedom was and is made possible by men will to stand up and fight when necessary using guns.

    What our country HAS NOT always had are millions of young people doped up on anti-depressants, ADD meds, bi-polar meds, etc. How about instead of gun control we have prescription drug control for doctors who want to diagnose any kid who's a little more active then his peers and dope them up? Yes there ARE people with serious mental illnesses where medication is needed. But how about parents start taking more of an interest in their children and keep them active and engaged socially so they don't end up on the news when they grow up with the all too common back story of a troubled youth diagnosed and "treated" for ADHD or bi-polar, or whatever by age 10. Common sense should tell people to educate their kids about firearms and not allow them to be desensitized about what a firearm is capable of doing and what its really meant for.

    Could not agree more...the focus doesn't need to be on assault weapons but instead about mental illness and perhaps...just MAYBE there is a link between over-medicating the youth and having them develop into serious mental illnesses later in life?? Probably wont hear the media reporting on that any time soon....

  4. @Badger Claw:

    "What our country HAS NOT always had are millions of young people doped up on anti-depressants, ADD meds, bi-polar meds, etc..."

    You're absolutely right, and the timelines coincide in quite an interesting way. I'm increasingly convinced that is there is a BIG story here - one that is being ignored (conveniently or otherwise).

    1. You were and are on to something Smithhammer, in fact it's hitting the press now and gaining steam. Looks like it broke here: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/12/aspergers-is-a-red-herring-to-explain-newtown.html

      Several 'news sources' are picking it up but I bet it gets buried real quick. If this is true we as a people must demand we give people with these problems due diligence as well as holding big pharma accountable.

  5. Sorry, but I have to disagree with more intensive background checks for one simple reason: Increasingly, over time, more and more groups will be excluded from buying firearms until the list has dwindled to cops, security guards and the military. Sure, hunters, "legitimate" self-defenders, sport shooters etc. would still be allowed to buy guns, but for how long? How long until their guns are deemed "unnecessary"? By the way, this is the intermediate stage many countries in the world are in, i.e. you can have a gun if you have a "good reason".

    The truth is that criminals, the mentally ill etc. will always be able to get guns illegally (as well as knives, baseball bats, cars, acid, pencils and anything else that can be used to harm people), so making ever more restrictive gun laws probably won't help. Even if there were NO guns in the US right now, people would start making new ones in their garages right away, so unless you want to ban wood, steel, gun powder, lead, brass, tools etc., there will always be guns. I think the only way to counter crazies with guns is with more gun freedoms so that good people can protect themselves and otheres. The only other possible way is total surveillance, total authoritarianism, total slavery. I'm not really for that.

    1. I agree with you on the BGs, in the end it affects only the law abiding, not the individual who has decided on a criminal path.

  6. It's strange how the rest of the world with stricter laws on guns only being allowed for hunting and target shooting (read no machine guns) and that guns have to be keeped in a weapon safe results in almost zero incidents compared to the USA.

    1. People didn't always shoot each other up in the US. Maybe it's something other than the guns...

    2. Christopher, that's not exactly true. Criminals always find a way. It is the individual that is the problem, not the inanimate object. A pencil doesn't cause misspelled words, a spoon doesn't make you fat, the car isn't at fault when a drunk driver kills someone with it.

      Google search crime rates in the UK since gun ban. Do the research don't take my work for it.

  7. One thing that I asked myself about the Oregon shooting was why the guy stopped to quickly. Yes he shot two people and then took his own life, but why did he stop. Sure he had a jam, but he also had about half a magazine left and two more in his pocket. So why did he stop so suddenly?

    The answer's name is Nick Meli, a CCW holder who was carrying that day despite the fact that the mall was a "gun free" zone.He never fired a shot at the shooter as he recognized his background was not clear, but when the shooter saw that someone was willing and able to make an armed resistance he took his own life. But you never heard about that from the news agencies. In fact anytime you heard the words "eye witness" in that story they are refering to Mr. Meli. Its just that they don't want to let the public know that responsible armed civilian with good judgment can actually use firearms for good. And agian, without ever firing a shot.

    1. It could have just been confrontation.
      Stop spreading the lie that the media didn't mention Nick Miels actions. It's a lie created to support some non-sense about anti-gun conspiracy in the media.

      If you read it, you should note:
      1) The shooters weapon was jammed.
      2) we have no indication the shooter even saw him.
      For all we know the time to fix the jam was weapon for the shooter to move past rage and into shame. Something rampage and spree killers experience.

      This post is neither pro nrt anti gun anything. The issue is to hot and important to allow fallacies and poor thinking to have merit.

    2. Again, you are intentionally not including facts. I'm not your parent, you are supposed to be an adult capable of critical thinking and analysis, you're pulling info from a singular story that doesn't mesh with Nick's or other eyewitness accounts.

      His gun jammed, then he shot himself with it within seconds. He knew he was done, Nick and another gun on scene stopped this from being worse that it was.

      Since that doesn't jive with what you want to believe, you'll of course find something else to reason it out.

      Your last sentence has merit, I'd suggest you take your own words to heart.

  8. I tend to agree with all you've written here. Magazine restrictions can help but really if practiced and wearing a tactical vest you can reload in 2 seconds. Background checks I think would be great especially if there is an adequate database with documented mental illness. The hard part getting families to allow documentation. There's always been a stigma associated with mental illness. But as has already been mentioned criminals will always find a way to carry out their work with either illegally acquired guns or knives, fertilizer or maybe arson. As a somewhat young person and a parent things are just different now. My parents tough me right and I knew the difference and never mind the law even today I'm more worried about the consequences from my parents than the police, all my Dad would have to say is he was disappointed in me. I thought it unfortunate at the time but growing up we were lower middle class and didn't have money for video games as friends got Sega's and Nintendo 64's my parents invested that money in a bike and a skateboard. I got in fights that didn't involve police, I didn't win every game or contest and learned plenty of life lessons without use of a 'system'. People want to blame a broken system when really it's broken families and morals. The heart of the issue with most any of these mass murders isn't the weapon or the system it's the family. Regardless of mental illness a more stable family where mom and dad live under the same roof or at least take an active role in the kids life and well being would have prevented these incidents more than any legislation. Ok . . . rant over!

  9. 1) Congress can pass an amendment, making the supreme court ruling moot.
    2) The whole write up just shows that gun laws that the NRA lobby can create exceptions for don't work.

    How about all civilian gun have to have a round inserted into the chamber manually(manual cocking or retreating the hammer)? No gun can have more then 6 rounds in it before needing reloading?

    1. How about we actually address the real issue? People. Go back and research every mass shooting for the past 20 years, note that 100% of the shooters were either on mood altering drugs prescribed by doctors or had recently went cold turkey off of them.

      Did the spoon make you fat?
      Does the pencil cause misspelled words?
      Do automobiles force drunk drivers?
      Does medication that is misused equal bad and ban the medication? No, the user, or misuser in this case is the issue, not the medication.

      Have a little intellectual honesty for a minute, it isn't the gun, it's the people. Go do your own homework on violent crime in countries that did ban or confiscate guns. Of course you don't want to do that honestly because it doesn't mesh with your mental perception that is skewed.

      When someone get's assaulted what do they do? Call someone with a gun.

      The reality is we have people issues, drug issues, screwed up societal issues, not inanimate object issues, since that doesn't jive with your perception though, clearly something must be done.

      There are those who are willing to be victims, those who are too cowardly to stand up for themselves and expect someone else to take care of them. There are over 1mm crimes averted annually because a gun was brought to bear but NOT EVEN FIRED, again, you won't see that in mainstream media either.

      This is the one and only time I will say it, all posts and comments are welcome here, save those of obvious intellectual dishonesty.

      Over 60% of all boys K-12 are now medicated, really. At what point do we honestly discuss the problem? When the left stops making it into something it isn't, that of course requires honesty and removal of hidden agendas.

      Truth or GTFO of the discussion.