Tag Archives: Guns

We Can Transform Our Gun Culture

GunCultureI was inspired and encouraged by our local “March For Our Lives” event in Tacoma, and by those held concurrently around the world. A number of speakers conveyed their passionate optimism regarding our prospects for implementing “sensible gun laws.” Some cited our eventual acceptance of seat belt laws, despite tremendous initial resistance, as one example of how important change can and does happen.

And there is an even more compelling precedent for optimism. I grew up in the 1960’s. At that time smoking was epidemic. Every indoor space was visibly thick with noxious, stifling smoke. Every tabletop was marred by ashes and burns. Beaches, park lawns, and other public spaces were strewn with disgusting butts. Workplaces and restaurants were more like Marakesh hookah bars than the clean, safe, and wholesome places they are today. Smokers could not be persuaded to change their behavior regardless of the cost to themselves let alone to others. Their right to enjoy unrestricted smoking was fueled by a powerful tobacco industry and protected by a complicit government. The result was that no one, even non-smokers, could find safety from the horrific health toll that this unrestricted smoking claimed. And certainly, few people believed there was any realistic chance to challenge the seemingly unassailable right and all-powerful compulsion of so many to smoke anywhere and everywhere they pleased.

Their arguments and excuses were much the same as those used in our current gun debate. But all those who said that significant changes in our smoking culture were impossible… were wrong. And they are wrong today about the hopelessness of achieving significant gun control.

But the relatively smoke and butt free world we enjoy today, that younger people thankfully take for granted, did not come about naturally or by accident. It came about because people fought for it. It came about because some ignored all those who maintained that smoking was too ingrained in our culture, that smokers could never be persuaded to curtail their habit to any extent whatsoever, and that in any case big tobacco was far too powerful to fight.

Big tobacco, as invincible and all-powerful as they seemed, lost that war. Smokers, as uncaring to suffering as their addiction made them, did eventually accept dramatic restrictions of their previously unrestricted right to smoke. And once the culture shifted under them, dramatic and fundamental change did not take long.

So don’t let anyone tell you that the NRA is too powerful. Don’t let anyone tell you guns are not the problem. Don’t let anyone tell you that gun owners will only allow their guns to be pried from their “cold dead hands.” Don’t let anyone convince you that the world will not be a far safer place with fewer guns. And don’t accept that our goals must be limited to “sensible gun restrictions,” because by taking this very meek approach we implicitly concede that guns are good and reasonable things to own – except for say crazy people or known criminals.

Rather than enumerating who cannot own guns, we should enumerate who can own them. The right to own guns should require proof of exceptional need. Such exceptions allowing ownership can include authorized facilities who “loan out” guns for controlled sporting or hunting activities, for guns held in secure armories for the use by “well regulated” militia groups, and for people with exceptional security needs.

Lest you think that such ambitious goals are impossible, consider that New York City has largely accomplished them. A little over a year ago we moved from New York City to Washington State. Despite the far greater population density, we frankly felt safer there. This is partly due to their very restrictive gun control laws. You are not allowed to own guns in NYC unless you can demonstrate an exceptional circumstance. Their laws effectively make gun ownership the exception. This has arguably contributed greatly to reducing gun violence, unarguably made us feel safer, has been accepted by the population, and has survived Constitutionality challenges in the courts. If such significant restrictions can work there, then there is no reason to accept any less nationwide.

As with seat belts, and more dramatically as with smoking, change can happen. New York City shows us that such change can be more transformative than we may believe – even when it comes to guns. The rallies and marches today give me a new sense of optimism that meaningful and significant change, akin to our transformative changes in smoking behavior, may be on the way for our insane gun culture. We just have to keep working to make it happen.

For other blog posts on our gun epidemic, click on the Guns category on the right!

 

The Supreme Court Must Ultimately Save Us From Second Amendment Genocide

gunlawsWe are trapped in a nightmarish, escalating civil war in which gun nuts, bolstered by the otherwise sensible people who support them in this national insanity, battle against those who recognize that we can we never hope to acceptably reduce gun violence until gun ownership is dramatically reduced.

Yes legislative action can blunt the damage a bit. We could and should prohibit semi-automatic weapons, as well as deadly ammunition and large capacity magazines. We could and should improve our mental health testing and strengthen background checks. We should stop shielding gun manufacturers from liability. But honestly, even all of these would not do nearly enough. These sort of legislative actions are merely the band aids we apply since we know we have no chance to obtain the life-saving cure we desperately need. In the case of our gun epidemic, that panacea is a radical gun-ectomy to remove all cancerous firearms from private hands.

Some think that repeal of the Second Amendment is a cure. But the reality is that we are so collectively obsessed with guns that we will never repeal our Second Amendment, no matter what the cost in lives. We could parade piles of bullet-ridden corpses down every American street every day and we would still stubbornly insist that no cost is too high to ensure our god-given right to bear arms. And even if we did, removing this right would do nothing affirmative to limit guns. States would only be free to pass their own similar gun-protection amendments.

But I think there is one slim hope that we are not sufficiently considering. That hope is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, with the stroke of one landmark decision, could reinterpret the Second Amendment so as to not only open up legislative options but to force legislators to enact them. Keeping a sensibly interpreted Second Amendment in place would be far more valuable than simply repealing it.

To refresh your memory, the Second Amendment states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This is an extremely vague statement. Our forefathers made much of their writing intentionally vague so that future courts could reinterpret them in the context of their changing times.

Certainly times have changed with respect to guns. Since this amendment was ratified in 1791, guns have obviously grown in destructive power like the growth of a fire-cracker into a nuclear weapon. The population and our proximity to each other have also grown dramatically. The days of hunting as a necessity are long past. And the number of guns, as well as their destructive power, has grown millions of times over.

Yes, I know that just back in 2008 the Supreme Court ruling in Columbia v. Heller tremendously strengthened Second Amendment protections. Although that ruling was actually very narrow, it has been extended to justify the most generous interpretation. It can be argued that this ruling was as indirectly disastrous for sane gun reform as Citizen’s United was for campaign reform.

But the Supreme Court can, should, and does evolve on important, deeply held issues. It seemed that the Supreme Court had spoken clearly against civil rights in Dred Scott v. Standford and Plessy v. Ferguson. But they did eventually do the right thing in Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia.

If our system is to work at all, we must not give up on the Supreme Court. We must hope eternal that at least one conservative member, in light of our exponentially deteriorating situation with regard to guns, might be willing to agree to subtle but dramatically consequential changes in our interpretation of the Second Amendment.

For example, the Supreme Court could rule that the phrase “a well regulated militia” is key and that it requires a far more limited distribution of weaponry. They could rule that the definition of “arms” must be far more restricted than our current interpretation. They could rule that “infringement” does not mean anything close to the current carte blanche in place now. They could clarify that their ruling in Heller does not justify extreme gun protections nor does it speak against sensible gun control.

Is this likely? Of course not. Is it possible? It certainly is and the impact of such a ruling could be huge. What we must do is not give up on this avenue even as we simultaneously pursue others. We must find justifications to bring a never-ending stream of cases before the Supreme Court to give them opportunities to put forth a modern, ethical, and rational interpretation of the Second Amendment. We could ask them, for example, to rule whether our current lack of gun control might actually violate our Second Amendment right to a well-regulated militia. We could ask them to rule whether it is consistent with the Second Amendment to allow certain weapons to be available for sport purposes only when provided at an approved facility.

Who knows, there may be a Justice right now who might now be willing to bend on this issue, if only given one more opportunity to make such a ruling. In any case, the reality is that until they do our Second Amendment genocide will continue to worsen.

Reinterpreting, not repealing, the Second Amendment is our best way out of this gun crisis that we have brought upon ourselves. Neither voters nor the repeal of the Second Amendment will force lawmakers to control gun proliferation. Just as with slavery and segregation, only a Supreme Court ruling can both allow and force them to do so.

 

Proud Member of the NRA (National Raptor Association)

BirdOfPreyI am a proud card-carrying member of the NRA. My father and my grandfather were members of the National Raptor Association as well. My great-granddad owned several hawks and a falcon that he used for hunting back in the day so it is a matter of tradition in our family. My collection currently includes a goshawk, a kestrel, two owls, and a buzzard as well as several dozen other magnificent predatory birds.

It makes me so frustrated to hear people who know nothing about birds of prey continually bash those of us who care so deeply about them. I truly love my birds and handle them responsibly. I should not be punished if some less responsible owners allow their birds to prey on cats, dogs, and other house pets. The answer to raptor attacks is not more regulation, but better enforcement the regulations we already have on the books. Raptor owners should voluntarily take classes on raptor husbandry, learn how to handle their raptors responsibly, and keep them well-secured in an approved aviary when not hunting. But families should take responsibility as well and protect their infants and young children with natural cover. Or else they should obtain their own protective birds of prey to repel hungry attacking birds.

VelociraptorI also own three velociraptors that descended directly from the line that were rescued from the destroyed Jurassic Park facility – the first one. These are the original birds of prey. Wingless, yes, but ancient raptors nevertheless. They are potentially dangerous but that is why it is so important that they be kept only by responsible owners like myself.

Our founding fathers owned raptors and they never specifically said that velociraptor ownership should not also be a cherished, protected right. They knew that all raptors are an essential part what makes our American culture so exceptional. Raptors are the only thing protecting our citizenry from housebreakers and totalitarian governments. If we allow the bleeding heart liberals to restrict our velociraptors today, they’ll come after our American Eagles tomorrow. The claim that my velociraptor is far more likely to rend the flesh from me and my family is as absurd as are false beliefs in global climate change or evolution.

Of course I feel tremendous sorrow for the thousands that were lost in the original Jurassic Park massacre. I also pray for all those devoured in Jurassic Park 2, 3, 4, 5, and the many people shredded every day by velociraptor attacks across the country. But this is a small price to pay to protect my god-given right to bear raptors. Such unfortunate events should not be politicized to push for onerous and unnecessary raptor-control legislation. Raptors aren’t the problem. Velociraptors don’t kill people, people kill people. If those intent to do harm didn’t use a velociraptor, they’d just gut hundreds in mere minutes with their own teeth and claws.

In fact, statistics show that murder by raptor is actually higher in states and countries with strict anti-raptor laws. This proves that the only answer to a crazy person releasing a hunting party of raptors into a concert venue is a true American hero with his own raptors – like Chris Pratt in Jurassic World.

Look, I’m not crazy or unreasonable. I do support some commonsense restrictions to keep raptors out of the hands of those who would use them to do harm – like the mentally disturbed, Blacks, and Muslims. But just don’t try to pry my beloved velociraptor’s jaws from my cold dead hand, or I’ll sig em on you!

Thank the lord that the NRA is here to safeguard our god-given rights as true patriots and god bless the United States of America!

 

Liberal Moderation

ModerationAll things in moderation” is a pretty sound truism. It is true for most things, but there are exceptions. Lead is never good to ingest even in moderation. Likewise, activism is not usually very effective and can even be harmful when taken in moderation.

Imagine you were an abolitionist living in the 1760’s. Would you demand a complete end to slavery or would you politely request limits on slave whippings?

Or how about if you were a feminist in the 1860’s? Would you demand equal rights or would you have request (demurely) that women be allowed to smoke in public?

How about if you were a civil rights activist in the 1960’s? Would you demand nothing less than equal rights or would you go out of your way to show how nonthreatening you are by simply asking to sit a few rows further up in the bus if all seats further back are taken?

This was the very question that troubled Martin Luther King in 1963. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King pushed back against his well-meaning supporters and their strident calls for moderation. He correctly assessed that these friends were a bigger hindrance to the achievement of equal rights than were his opponents. The modest calls of his so-called allies undermined his own demands by making them seem unreasonable and even radical in comparison.

I feel his same frustration. In all the causes I care about, I feel thwarted by fellow “activists” who demand only minor incremental improvements with negligible benefits. Often doing a little bit is worse than doing nothing at all. It often gives the impression we’ve already “fixed” that issue, making it even harder to come back later for real effective change.

That was certainly true for Healthcare. Failing to demand national healthcare and accepting at least a public option was a tactical mistake of President Obama from the beginning. Now we are stuck with a private for-profit “solution” that addresses none of the systemic private-market abuses of our healthcare system.

JoyBuzzer.pngIn fact, President Obama took years to figure out that his moderate reasonable approach in all areas were doomed to fail. Over and over he reached out across the aisle with modest requests of Jokers in Congress, only to accomplish less than nothing. It took him what, 5 years of getting joy-buzzed to finally understand that moderation did not make his opponents any more reasonable or receptive.

Bargaining isn’t a new or complicated skill. In bazaars all across the continents merchants show us how to do it. You demand 10 times what that trinket is worth and finally settle for “only” 5 times its actual value. Only a fool starts out with its actual value and hopes to get anything close to it.

Yet far too many activists fail to apply these simple bargaining rules. In a vain hope of looking reasonable, they ask for next to nothing and if they are unfortunate enough to get it, it becomes extremely difficult to come back for more. The other party always wins when they give away next to nothing. Yet we see these moderate activists in every important area diligently undermining the “extreme militant activists” who might without their “help” bring about real change.

Healthcare: What we asked for and got was a “reasonable” giveaway to the private healthcare sector. What we should demand in the next round is nationalized healthcare. We may be willing to settle for a quality low cost public option.

Gun Control: What moderates call for are “sensible” expanded background checks and mental health services. What we should demand is a near total crippling of the gun industry and close security monitoring of those who own certain guns. We might settle for reestablishing the right to sue gun manufacturers and dramatically increased gun controls and insurance requirements.

Climate Change: What moderates call for are “realistic” industry-friendly systems like carbon trading. What we actually have to achieve in order to save our planet is a near total shutdown of carbon-based fuels and greatly expanded emission limits. Our planet simply does not have the time for moderation on this.

Campaign Financing: What moderates call for are modest reforms that do nothing except create yet more loopholes and workarounds. What we should demand is a complete prohibition from politicians receiving any outside money or working in the private sector for 10 years after leaving office rather receiving a generous government pension. We might settle for public campaign financing.

Atheism: “Non Angry” atheists call for mutual respect and a live-and-let-live attitude toward religion. What we should demand is that magical thinking, like racist or homophobic thinking, not be taken seriously in any aspect of civil society. What we might settle for would be a far stricter enforcement of the separation of church and state including an elimination of all religious carve outs and tax benefits.

War Funding: Our “pragmatic” moderates are thrilled if we can just limit the amount of annual increase in the Pentagon budget. What we should call for is a 90% reduction of our military budget and a retuning of our military industrial complex. Perhaps we might settle for only a 50% reduction.

Abortion: Supposedly hardcore Choice advocates feel lucky if they can mange to push back on just a few of the State actions to restrict abortion. We should call for Federal funding of abortion services and a requirement that all institutions receiving Federal funds provide abortion services. We might settle for much stronger Federal protections of abortion services that prohibit any State legislation that intentionally or unintentionally inhibits abortion services.

Income Disparity: Moderates beg for a slightly higher minimum wage. What we should demand is a steeply graduated progressive tax up to 90% with a maximum income cap based on some multiple of a guaranteed minimum income. We could possibly negotiate on the threshold levels.

Presidents: Moderate liberals feel lucky if they can elect a President that is only slightly to the Left of their Republican opponent, even if that takes us much farther to the Right than before. They should support Bernie Sanders and maybe settle for Hillary Clinton. But they should not vote for her out of fear. The timidity and fear of our liberal moderates ensures we keep losing ground and that is why our nation has drifted steadily Right for nearly 40 years.

In the end, moderation in activism does more harm than good. Moderation does not ever sway our opponents or make the battle any easier. The effort to achieve ANY compromise is not significantly lessened if the demands are modest. Rather it is often easier to get ones opponent to accept a significant compromise if far below the demands. And in the end the ground gained through a small compromise of modest demands is far less than the ground gained by a large compromise on grander demands. Further, you often only get one compromise in a decade or more so incremental movement is often a delusion, or at least far too slow for the people or the planet involved.

A bolder and smarter enemy will give a bit of inconsequential ground to keep their key institutions safe. They will give a bit of ground to gain a bunch of ground elsewhere. That is all the Conservatives give us in response to our modest demands. Conservatives are bold and smart and they know how to demand and bargain and play the long game.

But like President Obama, liberal moderates have no clue. They are neither bold nor smart and they generally lose the long game on every front by moderating each other with continual calls for moderation.

 

Gun Liberty Protections

safety-firstAbortion safety advocates have a ton of great ideas about how to protect the life and well-being of expectant mothers. Even though the health risk of abortion procedures is essentially zero, these concerned citizens are so dedicated to health and safety that no legislative restriction is deemed too costly or too onerous. In states all across the country, they are proposing and enacting common sense regulations to ensure that abortion facilities are safe and that expectant mothers are afforded every possible protection.

We should be inspired by their efforts and apply the exact same kind of common sense safety regulations to gun sales to ensure that buyers and sellers alike are afforded their Constitutional right to acquire incredibly dangerous killing machines in the safest manner possible. Following are some proposed gun sales legislations, all modeled upon actual abortion legislation, and intended only to enhance the gun industry and ensure the safety of all concerned in gun sales.

The Gun Seller Freedom Act

  • 14 states require abortion providers to have an affiliation with a local hospital. Although such affiliations offers no benefit whatsoever, we should likewise require that gun shop owners be formally affiliated with a local police department just to be safe.
  • 13 states require that providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital or an agreement with another provider who has admitting privileges. Since guns are far more dangerous than abortions, we should likewise require that gun shop owners have admitting privileges at a local hospital as well.
  • 38 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician. Similarly, we should require that all gun shop staff who sell guns should have to take a 4 year training course and complete a supervised apprenticeship of at least 3 years. After they pass a multipart examination, they may apply to a government-appointed board for a sales license.
  • 18 states require the involvement of a second physician after a specified point in the process. We should likewise require that a second licensed salesperson assist in every gun transaction.

The Gun Store Patriotism Act

  • 22 states have onerous but according to them, essential, licensing standards for abortion clinics that are comparable or equivalent to the state’s licensing standards for ambulatory surgical centers. We should put in place equally stringent licensing standards for gun stores and require meticulous enforcement by the ATF.
  • 21 states specify the size of the procedure rooms and/or specify minimum corridor widths. We should likewise require that all gun store facilities meet minimum size standards to ensure a safe environment with sufficient evacuation capacity in the event of an event. To ensure safety, all walls and windows should be certified to withstand high-velocity sustained gunfire using the most penetrating ammunition available in the store.
  • 10 states require abortion facilities to be within some minimum distance from a hospital. We should likewise extend this protection to gun shops since they have far more potential for catastrophe.
  • 17 states extend regulations to sites where medication abortion (handing out a pill) is provided, even if surgical abortion procedures are not. We should likewise apply all the same gun shop protections to all stores that sell cap guns or BB guns.

The Gun Buyer Defense Act

  • 28 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, up to 72 hours, between counseling and the procedure itself. 14 of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure. We should apply these same common sense protections to gun purchasers.
  • 17 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer, the ability of a fetus to feel pain or long-term mental health consequences for the woman. None of this information is actually true, but the abortion safety advocates care so much about women that they want them to be aware of even imaginary risks. We should likewise require gun stores to provide pre-sales counseling to ensure that purchasers are made aware of the potential adverse consequences of their gun purchase decision.
  • 28 states mandate that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion and requires the provider to show and describe the image, or offer the woman the opportunity to view the image. We should likewise require that prospective gun purchasers be shown images of gunshot victims and require that salespersons describe the horrendous gunshot wounds in graphic detail.

The Firearms Integrity Act

  • 4 states require the abortion drug mifepristone to be provided in accordance with the outdated FDA protocol rather than the simpler evidence-based protocol that has been proven to be safe and effective. We should likewise require that sales of any model gun be forced to comply with all safety regulations relating to a Revolutionary War era muzzle loader.
  • 18 states require that the clinician providing a medication abortion be physically present during the procedure, thereby prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion remotely. Likewise all mail order or internet sales of guns should be prohibited.
  • Nearly all states limit the gestational age limit for the procedure. We should likewise limit the size of guns sold to the first trimester of gun and magazine size as there is some anecdotal evidence that guns with more than a 6 bullet capacity have some level of self-awareness.

We owe a great debt of thanks to all those dedicated abortion safety proponents for championing these important protections for expectant mothers.  We should join them in solidarity by proposing and passing similar common sense protections for prospective gun owners.

ADDENDUM

I’ve just become aware that at least one great legislator, Missouri State Representative Stacey Newman, has introduced HB 1397 which is exactly along these lines (see here). As of this moment a hearing on this bill is not scheduled, but keep at it Stacey!!

WE HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO SHOUT!

gunPresident Obama’s press conference after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon yesterday set the right tone – one of barely contained anger and frustration. In appropriately subdued Presidential tones Obama screamed as passionately as he could for people to get angry and make their voices heard by our leaders.

Later in the day, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gave his obligatory post-massacre interview on the Chris Hayes Show, he also conveyed evident outrage but his message was substantively less compelling:

Condolences are not enough, we’ve got to do something, we have to stop shouting at each other, we need sensible gun control legislation, and by the way we need to significantly improve mental health services.

Don’t get me wrong. I will vote for Bernie. You should vote for Bernie. He is the only one with any inclination to make substantive positive changes to the status quo. But in statements like this even Bernie merely reiterates the endless feckless calls for “sensible legislation” and again diverts the focus toward mental health. This is nowhere near the level of outrage and action that even the President understands is warranted and necessary.

Look, I’ve railed against guns for going on 40 years. I’ve argued with family, friends, associates, and even random strangers whenever the issue of guns has come up. I write impassioned articles whenever I can (see here). But none of these even begin to “shout.” These are all attempts at rational, reasonable debate about sensible gun control legislation. But here’s the thing. Calls for sensible gun-control legislation have never worked and never will. Any “sensible” regulations accepted by the killing-industry would only be those that actually do nothing at all.

Bernie, here is what shouting looks like…

BAN EVERY FUCKING GUN IN AMERICA! MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO MANUFACTURE, SELL, OR OWN ANY FUCKING GUNS WHATSOEVER! COLLECT THEM ALL UP AND MELT THEM INTO SCRAP AND DROP THE SCRAP DOWN A PIT THAT LEADS INTO HELL. FUCK THE RIGHT OF HUNTERS TO SLAUGHTER WHATEVER FEW NOBLE BEASTS REMAIN ON THIS PLANET. FUCK THE DISTORED AND PERVERTED AND ARCHAIC SECOND AMENDMENT. FUCK THE IDEA THAT GUNS ARE PATRIOTIC. FUCK THE ENTIRE GUN INDUSTRY AND GOOD RIDDENCE TO EVERY FUCKING GUN MANUFACTURING JOB. SUE OR PROSECUTE EVERY FUCKER THAT MANUFACTURES OR TRAFFICS IN GUNS EVERY TIME THEY ARE USED TO CAUSE HARM!

Now that is shouting. See the difference Bernie? The upper case and profanity kind of give it away. Perhaps now you can see that we have not actually yet even begun to shout. But we need to start. Unless we take the most extreme position, and unless we shout that extreme position in every hall of government and on every street, gun-lovers and their merchants of death will never give so much as an inch. The only way we can make any changes is if we are so extreme about gun control that they must crawl to us with hats in hand in the hopes that we might give them an inch. Maybe, if they can pass the background checks and mental health exams and buy sufficient liability insurance and jump through every other hoop we can think of, maybe we will let them keep a gun locked safely away in their house.

Readers, we need to show this country what shouting really looks like. We need to shout so loudly and with so much vitriol that the gun industry shits their pants and finally becomes willing to accept a modicum of social responsibility and accept a bit less profits.

Link this article to join my “WE HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO SHOUT!” anti-gun movement and show our leaders and the gun-industry what shouting really sounds like.

POST-DEBATE ADDENDUM

The first Democratic Debate was held last night and Bernie doubled-down on his “stop the shouting” rhetoric. His hypocrisy on this issue is incredibly disappointing. His entire brand is the red-faced chest-thumper calling for us to get angry and shout our outrage on a wide range of issues he cares about. But when it comes to the blight of guns, he admonishes us to calm down and stop the shouting. Bernie, we are going to keep shouting until even YOU cannot ignore us!

Yosemite Sam on Target

Gun-related murders, particularly mass murders, continue to rise in America (see here).

yosemitesamBut gun spokesperson Yosemite Sam reminds us that guns don’t kill people. After all, as hunting enthusiast Elmer Fudd points out, even if there were no guns those kwazy wabbits would just murder you with carrots. Wile E. Coyote, acknowledged expert on absurdly dangerous weapons, adds that even without guns some deranged Tasmanian Devil could run amok hacking preschoolers up with an Acme™ turbocharged meat cleaver. The entire cast of Looney Tunes agrees that the obvious and best solution to the plague of too many guns is yet more guns in the hands of animated characters who really, really love to shoot them. They maintain that in their cartoon-view, guns are not actually the problem anyway. Mental illness is the real problem.

I could not agree more with our Looney Tune friends! Mental illness is the real problem and we should focus our attention on that. Even though so-called real-world “scientific” studies have shown that there is no correlation whatsoever between violence and a history of mental illness (see here), anyone who shoots up a school or movie theater must obviously be mentally ill. And what does “correlation” really mean anyway? No, clearly mental illness is the problem, not guns. Case closed!

So then the only real question is how to identify these mentally ill people BEFORE they rip through an abortion clinic using their legally-purchased semi-automatic weapons supercharged with Brownells™ high-capacity magazines. Hmm. Let me think a second… could there be some factor, some objectively measurable indicator, that clearly flags individuals as mental health risks to society? Anything at all?

I know! How about we red-flag people who buy semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines as dangerous risks by virtue of mental illness? Clearly, people who are so paranoid, pathologically fearful, and sociopathic that they feel compelled to buy semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity clips – especially if they buy many of them – are mentally ill and need help. Maybe we should “register” them somehow so we can “monitor” their activities and administer appropriate mental health services.

hunterWe should be reasonable about this of course so that those few non-crazy gun owners, or at least those few crazy but harmless gun owners, are not unduly monitored thereby wasting our surveillance capacity. We should restrict our high-risk group of crazy gun owners to those who buy more than, say four mass-murder machines. High capacity clips should earn them a double-red flag status.

How many people would this high risk group include? I took the liberty of doing some back-of-napkin calculations. Roughly 24% of American adults say they own at least one of the estimated 310 million guns in circulation in our country. So, out of a total 245 million adults that means that 59 million of us are gun-crazy. Of those, 48% own 4 or more guns. That means that roughly 12% (30 million) of Americans are profoundly gun-crazy. That list would be whittled down to the subset of those that own four or more high-capacity modern non-hunting weaponry who are therefore profoundly and dangerously gun-crazy.

This “registration” and “monitoring” of high-risk mentally ill individuals is clearly quite doable. Not only are these mentally ill gun owners readily identifiable simply by tracking their gun purchases, but the numbers are manageable too. The terrorist watch list monitors over a million people. Amazon manages upwards of 300 million customer accounts. We routinely issue and manage hundreds of millions of driver’s licenses without breaking much of a sweat. So clearly monitoring our population of profoundly and dangerously mentally ill gun owners is well within our capability.

So let’s start a movement. We don’t want to unfairly blame guns when mental illness is the real problem. So let’s focus on that and provide the mental help needed to all those individuals flagged as mentally ill by virtue of their insane gun ownership. Maybe we could start a White House Petition. Let’s force the government to help these mentally ill gun owners to get the help they need and the intervention they require.

Pro-gun is pro-murder.