No, we should not. But if we must, Robert VerBruggen writing for National Review says it best:
"James Holmes passed a background check his worst prior infraction was a traffic ticket and although some of his acquaintances found him creepy, there is no evidence that he was diagnosed with any mental illness. Further, while its true that one of Holmess guns was a so-called assault weapon similar to an AR-15, this gun does not differ from standard hunting rifles in most of the important ways. Holmess rifle fires at a semiautomatic rate one bullet for each pull of the trigger, unlike a machine gun, which fires continuously when the trigger is held down and uses .223-caliber ammo. This ammo is frequently found in varmint rifles; it is on the small side even for shooting deer.
Admittedly, one aspect of Holmess arsenal does depart from standard equipment: his high-capacity magazines, in particular a 100-round drum-style magazine for the rifle. (The 1994 assault-weapons ban, which has since expired, capped magazine size at ten rounds.) Mayor Bloomberg is wrong that these magazines have no legitimate purpose I personally own an extended magazine for my 9mm pistol; it cuts down on loading time at the range if you fill a big magazine before leaving the house. But one can make the case, and many have, that high-capacity magazines make these kinds of shootings easier to pull off by decreasing the number of times that the shooter has to reload or change guns. Some shooters, including Jared Lee Loughner, have been tackled while reloading.
However, changing magazines can take less than a second here is an extreme example of a fast change and someone who takes as much time preparing as Holmes did will practice doing this. Further, Holmess choice of a drum magazine might have made him less effective there are reports that the magazine jammed, as large magazines are known to do. He might have killed and injured even more people if he had brought many smaller magazines and changed them as necessary. And at any rate, Holmess proficiency with explosives is an indicator that he could have been incredibly lethal even with no access to guns at all."
The reasons cited for our right to have guns is for hunting for food and personal protection. Neither of these uses requires high-capacity automatic or semi-automatic weapons. These weapons were developed for one purpose- to kill as many people as possible in as short of time as possible. It is absolutely absurd that we live in a country where if you ordered marijuana over the internet you'd have the cops knocking at your door but this guy ordered 6000 rounds of ammunition and all sorts of explosives no questions asked. And look at how often these mass shootings happen here compared to the rest of the world. Ask Marseil what the rest of the world thinks about the US- many are afraid to visit the US for fear of get shot while here. How sad is that.
Many American gun enthusiasts are afraid to go places overseas because they can't have a gun along for protection. I was in London last year and felt no particular risk at being there unarmed. But you know, some of the police in London actually are armed and even carry submachine guns.
I did not grow up with guns around, never owned a gun and rarely fired one (th last time being during the mid-1970's). So I don't have a vested interest in this debate. But, I do have some observations.
As with so much of the violent and/or street crime in U.S., it seems to me that most gun violence is perpetrated by a small percentage of Americans. It seems to revolve around certain locales and certain activities. I can't tell you how many times people have told me, "If you aren't involved in the drug trade and if you don't hang out in places that most everyone know are bad news, you have little to worry about in terms of violent crimes." And, I think that is true. There is an element in American society, and turf they dominate, that produces most of the violent crime, including gun deaths.
I've not been to Europe, so maybe I am incorrect in thinking that European countries are different culturally/socially from the United States in a way that affects the frequency of violent crimes (beyond just gun laws). Certainly, you can ban things in U.S. and people who disregard laws will get those things anyway. If their interest is to defend their turf, their drug revenues, and ward off competitors or people who don't pay, they will get guns to enforce these things. As the old saying goes, "The only people who will be disarmed by gun laws are law-abiding people. The criminals will still get guns." I am wondering if Europe is different, in that they have tough gun laws and bad guys still tend not to get guns . . the black market for guns is not such a factor there.
If my observations are correct, that still doesn't tell us how to change the violence-prone people in U.S. so that they won't resort to lethal force to obtain their objectives. Regarding the Colorado case, radio commentators have made the point that someone as smart as James Holmes would figure out a way to obtain guns, despite any laws. Or, that he could develop explosive devices to kill and maim people with.
Bob writes "I've not been to Europe, so maybe I am incorrect in thinking that European countries are different culturally/socially from the United States in a way that affects the frequency of violent crimes (beyond just gun laws). (...) I am wondering if Europe is different, in that they have tough gun laws and bad guys still tend not to get guns . . the black market for guns is not such a factor there. "
In Marseille, the city where I live, there are too many people with guns. There are gangs who mainly live on drug traffic who gun each other every so often. Obviously they get guns from the black market. Don't forget ex-Yugoslavia was at war, not far from here (1000 km - 600 mi) until the early 2000's. Also, there are commercial relations with Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, all sources of weapons. The difference, is that these weapons are illegal here, and just the fact of owning them is a sufficient reason to put people in jail.
Re: Does That Say More About the Guns or the People?
July 24 2012, 4:41 PM
There may be violence-prone people Bob, but without weapons like Holmes had there is only so much they can do. Imagine if he had been limited to a simple revolver (sufficient of self protection) or rifle (sufficient for hunting) he could have kill no more than a few people before he was jumped and stopped. Had his gun not jammed he could have killed even more than he did. I just don't see how there can be any justification for any civilian having automatic assault weapons.
Then he would have hurt even fewer. This whole gun-rights thing is based on the most outdated and ambiguous phrase in the Constitution. When this document was written guns were one-load muskets- not automatic machine guns. The fact is the world of today is so different than the world of 1776 that the whole Constitution is so badly out of date it should be scrapped and rewritten to fit the way things are today.
No, the Constitution is not the least bit dated. There is a mechanism in place to change and update it when necessary.
It has served us very well for 200+ years. Most of the Western Hemisphere has been governed by a series of dictatorships during that time period, but thanks to the Constitution, the U.S. has flourished both economically and politically.
Nothing devised by men is ever going to be perfect, but the U.S. Constitution is about as close as you are going to get.
I disagree. The Supreme Court is constantly having to decide what the Constitution actually says about things. In many cases it's a matter of interpretations because the wording of the Constitution is ambiguous or doesn't fit the questions we are faced today- such as matters dealing with computers, mass media or the internet- things that were unimaginable in 1776. And these interpretations are just that- just the opinion of whoever is on the court at the time and subject to change at anytime.
In the case where the Constitution talks about the right to bare arms- it is in a amendment talking about "A well regulated Militia"- many people think that means that ONLY those in a government organized militia have the right to have guns. The wording of this amendment is so ambiguous no one can say for sure- so people interrupt it however they want it to be.
The reason you have a Supreme Court is to interpret the Constitution. Yes, they sometimes make decisions that some people may disagree with or that we historically see is being wrong, but that is how our system works and it works better than any other.
I personally think Roe V Wade was a horrible decision. How anyone could find a right to abort babies in the Constitution is beyond me. But there is a process to remedy that situation. Those who disagree can work hard to pass a pro life amendment. I personally would be more in favor of the court overturning that decision and giving that issue back to the states where it rightfully belongs.
The current Congress can't even pass a budget. You'd actually trust any of today's politicians to come up with a new Constitution?
There's nothing wrong with our system except it's 236 years out of date. Would you want your doctor treating you from a 200 year old medical book?
But with your last point you got me- no, I do not trust present day politicians to rewrite the Constitution. I don't trust present day politicians to do anything. So I don't see any solution to this dilemma.
It's not so clear as that- it's often very difficult to determine what is legal according to the Constitution- like Obama's Medical Care act- half of the lower courts said it was legal, half said it wasn't. Even the Supreme Court split 4 to 5. The fact that so many Supreme Court decisions about what is "constitutional" come down to 4-to-5 splits shows just how "unclear" the Constitution is.
I make that statement based on the longevity of the U.S. Constitution. It has endured through a civil war, depresssion, presidential scandals, world wars, incompetent presidents etc.
Our constitution is the oldest one still in use having been ratified in 1789. Norway (1814) and Belgium (1831) have the 2nd and 3rd oldest.
The governing system of France has only been in place since 1958 when the Fifth Republic came to be after the collapse of the Fourth Republic. The 5th almost collapsed in 1968 but DeGaulle was able to save it.
Yes, slavery was acceptable during the early years of our nation, but we fought a bloody civil war to end it and our union and constitution survived.
As I pointed out to Nat, there is a process to change our Constitution. When our country became more enlightened and no longer condoned slavery, we added the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which abolished slavery.
Re: Does That Say More About the Guns or the People?
July 25 2012, 6:24 AM
My idea, which I've mentioned on other forums, is that it isn't the bad guys we have to worry about, it's the good guys. Typically these guys that shoot up schools, movie theaters and the like aren't street criminals who spend their nights breaking into people's houses or dragging people into alleys. While after the fact, it's always easy to point to them and say I could have told you so, they had no crime history. They may have had a history of other things but not crime as we think of it.
So if the criminals will always weapons (not necessarily so), the answer is to keep the good guys from getting weapons like they've been using. But I can't imagine that going very far.
My wife's great-great-great-great-great grandfather (give or take a great) actually wrote the 2nd amendment. That is, he sort of thought of the idea. His name was George Mason. He was particularly interested in the part that says "well regulated." And he definately meant it to apply to a literal militia, which became the National Guard, although it continued to be called the militia into the 20th century. For some reason he was worried about private armies for some reason, though I don't think there was any precedence for that. What I absolutely don't believe they intended when that amendment was added was for women to carry concealed firearms. But I can't imagine that going very far today either.
Yes, the violent crimes that receive heavy media coverage, such as that in Colorado, get everyone's attention. I think that is due to the numbers of people killed, that the gunman was someone expected (medical school student with no prior criminal record), and especially the unwelcome realization that anyone can be engaged in the most innocent activity (e.g., watching a movie) and yet be killed. Contrary to the scenarios in which we are not surprised to see violence, sitting in a suburban movie theatre seems like a pretty safe place to be. The Colorado event shakes that belief, so it disturbs us more.
But if you added up all the sensational crimes like this, the head count would be relatively low compared to daily street crime and domestic situations. We just don't hear about the latter much because, frankly, no one is surrised when gun fire occurs between rival gangs protecting turf, or in an urban club where alcohol is flowing and guns are present, or when a man catches his wife with another man and shoots them both.
The average American CAN be trusted with guns. I don't have any concern that my neighbors have guns. In fact, I feel a bit safer not owning one myself if others close to me have them. The only situations in which I truly need to be concerned about gun violence are some sort of domestic dispute. If I am strongly mistreating someone in my family, I might get shot. If I am sleeping with another man's wife, I might get shot. I don't use illicit drugs, so I don't go where they are sold or used, and I don't associate with people in that lifestyle. I could get hit by a stray bullet passing through other parts of town, but I don't see that as very likely to occur and I don't worry about it.
Contrary to Blue, it is the smaller segment of American society that commits a large percentage of the violent crimes that I fear having guns. If we could disarm those people, most of the problem would be solved. The typical American is not going to shoot me without a good reason, so I don't worry about them having guns.
You are probably correct about the people who commit violent crimes (all of them, in fact). But even a violent criminal is not going to shoot someone without a good reason.
There is of course a lot of sensationalism used on both sides of the debate, perhaps even more on the side of the "more guns" camp. They are always referring to packs of wild dogs, home invasions and the like. They go on and on about the distinctions between assault rifles and semi-automatic sporting rifles. A lot of sound and fury. One becomes embarrassed about being at all interested in firearms.
You also hear a lot of false statements. People make statements about the increase in "home invasions" where there is no such increase. Of course, hard statistics are not easy to come by and when you do find them, you can be in for some surprises. My home town, population under 8,000, has more crime per 1,000 people than where I live now, Fairfax Country, VA, population about 1,200,000. Birmingham, Alabama, is more violent than El Paso, Texas.
There's a joke circulating in gun circles: guns don't kill people; husbands who come home early kill people.
"But even a violent criminal is not going to shoot someone without a good reason."
I don't know about that. There are people who get shot being in the proverbial, "wrong place at the wrong time." Back in 1999, my family visited New York City. When we first got there, we cruised on the expressway, reveling in the skyline of the city and "We made it to New York City!" My younger son was in the back seat and had his hand out the window, "catching air." A car comes past us and a woman yells out, "Get your hand back in the car! You're gonna draw fire on that car!" Apparently, what Joseph was doing could be seen as an act of defiance or a dare (like using the wrong hand signs) and prompt a violent response. Fortunately for us, the lady saw our out-of-state plates and knew that we were not aware of the danger. Which is correct -- we had no idea. To those familiar with the local scene, maybe what Joseph was doing represented a good reason for someone to shoot at us. But I don't think it is a good reason. Even if someone gives the finger, I don't think that would justify shooting them. People get shot today over disputes that used to be settled verbally or with fisticuffs. Today, any perceived slight can result in use of deadly force in some parts of U.S.
I agree with Bob- there are many cases where criminals have killed people for no good reason- people who were cooperating and posing no threat to the criminal. They killed them anyway just because it gives them a feeling of power. Evil sadistic people don't need reasons. They do evil things because they are evil people.
I always hesitate to suggest that anyone is entirely evil. That is not a Christian attitute, although I understand religious discussions are out of place here. But it seems to be the basis for a lot of thinking. However, it is also like basing an argument on beliving that it is impossible to do something.
"Many American gun enthusiasts are afraid to go places overseas because they can't have a gun along for protection."
I never thought of it this way. Actually this is very fortunate: if they are afraid to go overseas for this reason, they are definitely not the kind of visitors we welcome.
"Ask Marseil what the rest of the world thinks about the US- many are afraid to visit the US for fear of get shot while here."
Actually no. I believe no European is afraid of being shot in the US. We know Americans kill each other
More seriously, weapons are under tight control in all the developed world (Europe, most of Asia, most of Latin AMerica....), so no one clearly understands why Americans are in need of weapons in a pacified country. Maybe the answer is in NRA's hands....
You would know more about this than I, but everything I have read or heard about Japan has noted the high degree of civility in that culture. There is respect for others and an etiquette not practiced much in U.S. I think that is how Japan can be so congested in terms of population and still not have the people turning on each other.
Contrast with U.S., where increasingly there is much under-parenting of children and little regard for others (Not always this way -- I recall that my neighbors would tell me not to do things, not just my parents, and I would abide. Today, if you tried to tell a child not to do something, the kid would likely tell you to "F___ Off!", and the parent might then come to your door with their own choice words and ready for a fight: "Don't you tell my kid what to do!").
In Japan, it appears that controls upon the individual's demeanor and behavior are internalized, such that when the govt forbids firearms, the populace understands this is for the common good, and most abide by it and don't try to obtain weapons illegally. In U.S., control is not internalized, and only external controls (laws, police) have much hope of working. The common view here is, "It is only illegal if you get caught." So, a proposed ban on weapons in U.S. would first be opposed politically, and then if it were enacted, persistent attempts would be made to get weapons anyway. To some, it would be a challenge to see how many illegal weapons they could bring in in defiance of the law.
Gun violence hasn't lead the majority of Americans to think that guns are the problem. Actually, the opposite has occured: The more violence we see in the media, the more convinced Americans are that they must also arm themselves to respond to it -- you don't want to be the only one in a dispute without a gun. Increasingly, women in U.S. are purchasing guns and being trained in their use, so that if need arises they can blast the bad guys. Can you imagine that viewpoint among citizens in Japan?
but that becomes a euphamism for public/govt services. I think U.S. was better off when adults parented children, and not just limited to the kid's parents. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, teachers, librarians . . they all told me when I need to do something or to stop doing it. For the most part, I didn't resent it (appreciated it less so during my defiant teen years). I learned from it. I learned to defer to my elders . . that they had my best interests at heart and learning gained from experience. Sadly, we don't have as much of this in America today. Even parents today don't tend to want other adults telling their kids what to do.
when Hillary Clinton wrote a book by that title. I don't think Hillary was just saying that the extended family of a child, or even people in the same community, should be involved in providing guidance. She was also saying that when other resources are not available, all of us (i.e., government) have a responsibility to that child.