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Monday, July 11, 2016

"Guns Don't Kill People"

OK, bullets fired from them by people do. Is that better?

I was in Las Vegas to attend a memorial service last Thursday for the recently deceased father of two of my closest friends, Jerry and Lenny Lopez of the Santa Fe Band. After the service and reception I checked into my hotel and flipped CNN on while changing clothes as I prepared go eat at Lindo Michoacan, my favorite Vegas Mexican restaurant. Live aerial coverage of the downtown #BlackLivesMatter-related protest resulting from the week's prior police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis was underway.

All of a sudden, people started scattering in panic in all directions. "Shots fired! Active shooters firing from an elevated position...!"

Aghast, I sat on the bed, riveted at the breaking news of our latest unfolding mass firearms tragedy. I quit changing and just slipped under the covers and eventually crashed, emotionally exhausted by this latest grotesque incident.


Right.

Was Dallas simply yet another unavoidable instance of "Force Majeur"?
...Are we simply left, then, with dueling antagonistic, frequently epithet-overloaded speculative arguments, many of them based on the weakest (and most cherry-picked) of empirical evidence, buttressed and amplified by the most fevered illogic? Some of them that hark to a time of a frontier nation comprised of less than 1% of today's U.S. population, a new nation still smoldering from the flames of war on its soil, a nation where the relative "balance of power" expressed via citizen vs government armaments was orders of magnitude smaller compared to that of today?

Are we left to simply argue that the ONLY thing preventing our self-government from devolving into despotism is our putatively prophylactic "Right to Bear Arms"?
Also, beyond fatuous notions of manly, preening "Revolution 2.0," recall the contentious "Docs vs. Glocks" thing? See, e.g., "The Absurd Logic Behind Florida’s Docs vs. Glocks Law." See also
Is gun violence actually a public health issue?
Gun violence is killing 30,000 Americans a year. Why not treat it like smoking? Or heart disease?

For over two decades, there has been a virtual freeze on gun violence research in the United States. In 1996, Congress passed a bill preventing the use of federal funds for studies that advocate gun control, which was widely interpreted as preventing all research into firearm violence. Though U.S. President Barack Obama reversed the order in 2013, Congress continues to block dedicated funding. And this data deficit is posing a significant complication for those hoping to find a solution for America’s gun-death epidemic...
I know people in the health care community who will forcefully, angrily scoff at the very notion of epidemiological firearms research and any further firearms control legislation.
I'll be clear. I would "Repeal and Replace" the antiquated, subsequently incoherent case law-validated 2nd Amendment. I've gotten repeated Keyboard Commando "death threats" just for stating that. Try to imagine my abject terror.
EHR Social History tabs must not extend to the recording of firearms possession and use, notwithstanding the potential risk factors (the extent of which we simply cannot know given the lack of any research data).

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Yeah, sure. During the recent Roseburg, Oregon Community College shooting there was a student on campus, a military veteran with a concealed carry permit. He was packing, but told reporters he didn't act because he thought police might suspect him as a "bad guy." Similarly, the Dallas PD Chief just finished a press conference during which he reiterated that during a exigent shooting circumstances the police will not have the luxury of time to deliberate on "good guys vs bad guys."
Dallas Police Chief Debunks Conservative Media's "Good Guy With A Gun" Myth
Chief David Brown: In Open Carry States "We Don't Know Who The Good Guy Is Versus Who The Bad Guy Is If Everybody Starts Shooting"


"We are trying as best as we can as a law enforcement community to make it work so the citizens can express their Second Amendment rights. But it's increasingly challenging when people have AR-15s slung over and shootings occur in a crowd and they begin running, and we don't know -- or we don't know if they're the shooter or not, or they begin, it's been the presumption that a good guy with a gun is the best way to resolve some of these things. Well, we don't know who the good guy is versus who the bad guy is if everybody starts shooting, and we've expressed that concern as well."
Some aggregate tangential summary Guns-Don't-Kill-People outcomes data here: "[A] list of the 30 deadliest single day mass shootings in U.S. history from 1949 to the present."

Lots more to think about. Some of this, in particular related to the latest controversial police shootings, gets a bit personal for me. My daughter Danielle is mixed race, adopted at birth. My grandson Keenan is now 22 and has just graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Potentially "scary-looking" hefty minority ex-football lineman, if encountered at night on a dark street or during a traffic stop.


UPDATE
Dallas Chief to Lawmakers: Do Your Job on Gun Control 

During a Monday morning press conference, Dallas police chief David Brown said he believes legislators aren't doing enough about guns in the United States. "There is a greater role in policy-making, and folks just need to do their job," Brown said. "There are too many things we all agree on on both sides of the aisle that we haven't gotten done. We just need to get it done. Quit asking cops to chime in and do it for you." He added, "We've got a full plate. The policy-making, the laws being passed, that's their job. We need to do it to be safer in this country. The issues have been long discussed. We are not getting to a place where we do anything. That's the frustration for police officers. We all know what needs to be done that we agree on, just to say we did something."
He'll continue to get death threats as well. Count on it.

"The antiquated, subsequently incoherent case law-validated 2nd Amendment"
"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."
OK, just try asserting your unfettered Constitutional right to own a fully automatic military assault rifle, an RPG, Abrams tank, Blackhawk helicopter, or Sidewinder Missile-equipped UAV (a drone). Notwithstanding that SCOTUS case law has by now dispensed with the opening "well-regulated Militia" clause, infringement on ownership, possession, and use of certain types of weapons is in fact by now well-established -- dispositively so.

Moreover, taking up arms against the government -- romantically referred to by some gun nuts and pandering politicians as "Second Amendment Remedies" -- is the very Constitutional and statutory definition of "Treason."

Neither the houses I have owned, nor our innumerable cars, nor my large inventory of fine guitars have Constitutional "right" protection. No one from government has ever come to confiscate them (and neither have my lenders, given my history of on-time payments as due). But, it's conflatingly axiomatic among 2nd Amendment extremists that any regulation of firearms is the precursor to inevitable blanket prohibition and dictatorial confiscation.

Delusional.

That "gun enthusiasts" bristle at real or imagined "inconveniences" posed by regulation (in addition to other bogeyman apparitional threats) is not of the slightest relative interest to me.

Having to go to the DMV episodically is a pain my my ass as well.

THE "INHERENTLY DANGEROUS INSTRUMENTALITY"

That's a tort phrase, one used successfully against the tobacco industry. Basically, the assertion is that there is no safe use of the product. Used as directed it destroys.

Firearms don't  rise to precisely that level of analogy (and I've been slammed for even mentioning it), but there's no denying that the entire point of their use is to propel high-speed projectiles that damage or destroy the objects they hit, be they paper or clay targets, beer cans or bottles, or the bodies of living beings.

That's close enough for me to want them to be rationally regulated in an increasingly densely populated world. Bullets are "inherently dangerous" to the things they strike -- whether intended targets or not.

"What an AR-15 Can Do to the Human Body"
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More to come...

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