Monday, April 06, 2009

Gunnin' for the bottom

By Carl

After only the second mass murder by a non-white American, perhaps now a
legitimate dialogue about gun control can take place in this country:

As the nation gets a clearer picture of two killers who have made headlines in recent days -- one near Pittsburgh, one in Binghamton, N.Y. -- some are wondering whether Americans have too much access to guns.

[...] As the gunman, identified as 41-year-old Jiverly Voong, blasted his way through the American Civic Association, DeLucia, 61, stayed on the phone for 38 minutes, guiding police and trying to provide them with information to prevent more people from being shot. Voong killed 13 people before turning the gun on himself.

[...] On Saturday, one day after the Binghamton shootings, three Pittsburgh-area police officers were gunned down after responding to what they thought was a domestic disturbance call. Richard Poplawski, 23, the alleged shooter, was shot several times in the leg.

I suspect there's a small number of gun nuts out there now, reading about this story and realizing that yet another exclusive domain of whites, and particularly, white males, is being outsourced to lower-wage criminals: spectacular mass murder.

Sort of takes the fun out of killing people to make a political point, like the militias of Montana and Michigan would be wont to do, or the Oklahoma City terrorists when they might just as easily fire back.

A point I've always stressed in any gun discussion here is that there is a definite need for some guns in America, and Binghamton is on the cusp of an area where guns might be needed.

But certainly not automatic weapons.

Binghamton is a fairly large town, a city even, at the intersection of three interstate highways: NYS Route 17 (soon to be Federal Interstate Highway 86) and Interstates 81 & 88. I've walked the banks of the Susquehana there, and had a draft or two in some of the bars there. Indeed, I've even visited during the gay pride weekend.

Yes, it's that evolved a town.

Drive 90 minutes in any direction, and you are in the middle of the wilderness: a forest, a nature preserve, a state park. Up there, it's bear country, even puma country. You can't always call the cops and expect them to show up in the same hour, although they try their hardest. So yea, a long barrel gun is a necessity and since it's not likely you'd get a second shot quickly, even these don't have to be semi-automatic. And handguns? Forget it. You ain't taking down a bear or even a deer with a .44, sorry.

Those are guns I can support. I cannot support a gun that a man can walk into a building with and take out a dozen people in an urban setting (or suburban school or a rural church). That's just patently ludicrous and anyone who defends them should not be taken seriously.

When police departments nationwide, departments made up of people like any other average American and without any "liberal" agenda at all, can warn against the ease of purchase of guns, it's time we took the issue to heart.

Maybe now, the extremist gun owners on the far right lunatic fringe will sit down and seriously reconsider their knee-jerk reaction to even the most reasonable of controls on guns and gun ownership: licensing, registration, and criminal background checks on all gun sales. We require insurance to own a car, even the most minimal insurance. We can surely require *something* that minimizes the likelihood that we'll have to watch mass funeral services for innocent people ever again.

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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  • Modeling a firearms licensing process after existing CCW permit procedures would be an interesting place to start. Very few CCW holders have used their weapons illegally.

    I'm not sure if the trouble and political blowback from requiring a license for shotguns and other manually reloaded long arms is worth the public safety benefits, however....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:13 AM  

  • you don't need semi automatics to hunt- or for protection. hand guns and hunting guns- fine. the bigger issue are the gun shows. most places have waiting periods and registrations for new guns- but gun shows are the 'open range' if you will.

    as for binghamton, thanks for saying we are evolved- most folks from downstate think we are inbred hicks. i actually had someone ask me that before. :)

    By Blogger billie, at 9:17 AM  

  • I don't need a car that does 190 either - or 100 for that matter. Cars today are much, much faster than they were 20 years ago when speed limits were ridiculously low -- yet the fatality rate has declined, as it has with firearms.

    This isn't about need, it's about assessing public danger honestly and I'm still waiting for anything, no matter how deceitfully presented, that indicates the Assault Weapon Ban had any effect whatsoever on the number of weapons in private hands or on crime rates or deaths. I'm waiting to hear an admission of how tiny the risk is from armed lunatics, Vs. robbers, family members and drug dealing gangs -- and SUV's.

    For what it's worth, most of the cops I know, and that includes the sheriff here, shake their heads and make clucking noises when these proposals are discussed. In the last town I lived in, the Police Chief publicly refused to support a hand gun ban proposed when some Schizo got a gun illegally and shot up a grade school class. It failed and of course there's never been a repeat anyway. (they alse made it a nuclear free zone)

    I think that too many gun laws are written by and opposed by hysterics and many are designed only to be able to say "we passed a gun control law."

    Is the violence problem really affected much by revolvers Vs. Pistols, or lever action Vs. autoloading? I think that would be hard to support with statistics. It's only my opinion, but I consider this a faith-based argument packed full of conjecture. A good wheel-gun shootist can empty a six shot revolver in a couple of seconds or less and anyone who thinks a hundred million firearms are going to disappear because of some ban has more faith than any Pontiff.

    Is the rate of Gun crime rising, stable or declining? I think we lose sight of this essential measure and the slow 20 year decline seems to be driven by things other than gun legislation.
    Again, in my opinion the surge in gun fear following any local shootemup does not reflect any rational assessment of risk, else why in the face of declining violence do we keep talking as though things were getting out of hand? Actually looking at the world at large, the lower crime rates are, the more panic when one happens.

    In the 1950's, I could buy an autoloader pistol through the mail. Were crime rates lower or higher then? Just what is the risk to any one of us that someone in our neighborhood will run amok with a gun? Most of all what evidence is there that all our waiting periods and background checks and bans would impede a madman much less the bloods and crips? Without these discussions, all else is presumption - and presumptuous. David Berkowitz used a revolver. Would he have killed more or less or not at all with an "assault weapon" ban in place? Tim McVeigh didn't use guns at all.

    We're also ignoring the role of guns in self protection. I'm afraid that formal duels between gentlemen are not the rule any more and unlike the cowboy movies, a gang of assailants won't come at you single file. That second, third or fourth shot may save your life or that of your family. People don't just fall down dead when shot like in the movies and people can easily miss an assailant from 5 feet away. When someone kicks the door down at 4 AM, I want an Uzi thanks, not a flintlock dueling pistol. Ask your local policeman if he wants a Beretta with a 15 round magazine or a two shot derringer for his own protection.

    While I agree with the poster who mentions modeling regulations after current CCR licensing, we are ignoring the "shall not be infringed" clause in the Constitution. I think we make a big mistake by writing laws that clearly are at odds with the bill of rights; particularly for what appear to me to be emotionally generated arguments. The mechanism is there to change the constitution but ignoring it is the road to the Police State.

    Any arguments that tempt us with visions of "this will never happen again" are suspect, in my opinion, and particularly when they are at odds with objective reality, which they tend to be. And I say objective reality because I see no correlation between highly restrictive gun laws and crime levels any more than we see reductions in automobile accidents by setting lower speed limits or drug use by creating more severe penalties.

    If anyone had a reasonable argument, it was about restricting magazine size, which if you remember was the only non-fraudulent aspect of the former AWB. Of course it didn't work either since an inexhaustible supply of pre-ban magazines ( and guns) were at large and available legally everywhere.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 10:57 AM  

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