Friday, July 25, 2014

Good guns vs bad guns. Wha....what?

I wonder if anyone has the cojones to weigh in on this one:


For years now one of the questions that has bedeviled us is what, if anything, can or should we do to curb guns and the violence that accompanies them.  The idealists want to simply outlaw guns.  Just pass a law and....pfffft....problem solved.  The Bubba's want to arm us all with Gatling guns and assault rifles....commence firing! 

Being consistent with my philosophy of avoiding the extremes, I agree with those who say guns aren't the problem, but the intent of the person using it is.  Consider this:

"A psychiatric outpatient opened fire Thursday inside a psychiatrist's office at a hospital near Philadelphia, killing his caseworker and slightly wounding the doctor, who shot the gunman with his personal firearm, authorities said."  USA Today

So in this instance was the gun the villain or the good guy?  Laws that prevent the sale to/possession of guns by those who shouldn't have them don't work.  If they did, this psychiatric patient (with a criminal background no less) wouldn't have had one in the first place.  

Yet the pacifists amongst us want to disarm us, or at the very least make it extremely difficult for us to buy personal defensive firearms.  If they had their way the good doctor in the story above would probably be a victim, too, and the gunman might have kept on killing others until someone stopped him.

Here's where it gets convoluted:  The hospital had a policy that prevented everyone but on-duty law enforcement from having guns on campus.  The authorities say that the doctor had a legal right to possess his gun, so criminally he's safe, but from a civil standpoint he's in deep doodoo.

The hospital might take action against him, possibly revoking his privileges there, and the original gunman can now sue him in civil court (he survived his wounds).  The bad guy is quite likely to settle in to a very comfortable retirement, courtesy of the doctor.

Where is the justice in that?  (See my post of several days ago bemoaning "too many lawyers, and too many laws for them to manipulate".)

Sure, we need to enforce the laws we already have.  Enough "background checkers" aided by a state-of-the-art computer system could possibly have prevented this wacko from getting his hands on a gun.  

With 300M (?) guns already on the streets, there is no ironclad guarantee he couldn't have obtained one clandestinely, but surely we can keep guns away from some of these nuts. 

IMO, good people should be allowed to protect themselves with defensive firearms as the police are almost always REactive*.  They don't show up until the damage is already done.  YOU are primarily responsible for your safety.

*In case you're wondering, assault rifles are by definition primarily offensive weapons*

What was it the lady interviewed at the scene of the hospital shooting said?  "I never thought it would happen here."

Yeah, famous last words.

S

* Some facts:  In the average shooting less than 4 shots are fired, at a range of 7 yds, in less than 10 seconds.  In my city the average police response time is 4.5 minutes.  In some rural areas and in some crime plagued, underfunded cities the response time can be up to an hour. 


19 comments:

  1. I hate when people point to an article where someone shoots a criminal and says, "See, if everyone has guns we'd be safer!" More guns in the hands of morons will not make us safer. You need to have enough police on the streets that criminals can't thrive.

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    1. I agree Pat....a 50-fold increase of police on the street would likely fix the problem. But get real, that's NEVER gonna happen. What's your Plan B?

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    2. Please don't call Scott a moron as compared to a junky out of junk on the streets, just looking for something salable.

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  2. OK, my only complaint and I think you did backtrack a bit is the idea that laws will not eliminate guns from the hands of nut jobs, therefore (i assume the argument goes) the laws are worthless. We have bank robberies every day even though it is against the law, should we make robbing banks legal? Anyway it is a mess, but we should do more to keep guns out of the hands of nut jobs, and more to keep nut jobs under professional care. And if I was a doctor who worked with nut jobs, I would want a gun myself.*

    *disclaimer, I have never owned held or fired a gun in my life and have no desire to do so, I would probably shoot myself.

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    1. I agree, we do need gun laws, but passing new ones when we don't enforce the ones we already have is pointless. That state-of-the-art computer system I mentioned could hopefully cross reference nationally those who are or have been mentally ill, those who have restraining orders against them, who have history of violence, etc. My point was, when it comes right down to it, the only person you can count on to protect you when you need protecting is YOU.

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    2. I think we agree except I don't think not enforcing the current laws is the issue, I would like to see more serious laws, similar to a drivers license. Pass a test, written and practical, have license renewals and revocation for offences. I know, gun enthusiasts, it won't end the problem. People drive without a license, people practice medicine without a license, people break laws, but laws do reduce the infractions. And the current gun laws seem to be pretty flimsy in most states.

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    3. I recall reading something years ago about a city (Richmond, VA?) that began searching people's cars for illegally possessed weapons at the time of traffic stops. If you got caught with a weapon you weren't legally entitled to, you went to prison. No fine, no hand slap....PRISON. The laws were already on the books, but they were until then seldom used. After that the violent crime rate there plummeted.

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  3. This debate is fueled by extremes on both sides - NRA vs. total ban. In the old West when guns got out of control towns banned them within city limits. They independently took control of the situation. Guns are once again out of control and reasonable regulation seems appropriate (background checks, etc). Unfortunately, lobbyists once again control Congress and candidates compromise their own values just to get elected. It certainly didn't help that the Supreme Court made a wrong decision. Even a loose interpretation of the 2nd Amendment shows that some regulation was intended, even if some think it is limited to a militia and they parse out right for everyone and anyone to pack an AK-47.

    I also agree with Pat that if everyone had guns we'd be safer is a specious argument. It has almost come to that point and I sure hope I'm not in the crossfire when some gun toting hero decides to take out the bad guy.

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    1. You're right, certain special interests are pulling all the strings these days and the politicians are happily cashing their checks. But the idea of everyone checking their firearms at the door as they enter a city is simply not going to work. With a thousand streets/highways connecting major cities to their surrounding neighbors, who is going to be the gatekeeper? Who's going to enforce it? The good guys will comply, but they aren't the problem.

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    2. Agreed, my example was how an out of control situation required a strict response. Not feasible today, however I wonder if communities, counties and states shouldn't be allowed to establish their own rules or restrictions because of the out of control problem. We make decisions about where we want to live based on community standards and stricter gun control may influence some to select a community. I would certainly avoid any store or business where the "open carry" kooks are allowed in and use the same reasoning to stay in a community. Schools have "gun free" zones, maybe it is time communities did also.

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  4. Doesn't take much in the way of cajones to say that it's a toughie and not much can be done. Nor does it take a pacifist to look at the gun and gun-related deaths in the US, compare it to the rest of the industrial world, and say gee, we sure have a lot more shooting deaths than anyone else.
    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to say we already have a lot of laws about who can own guns and they don't work, ergo more laws won't work either.
    Yeah, I think it can be fixed, but over a long time, probably many years. Adopt similar laws that are in effect in Canada. Their gun deaths are a small fraction of ours. It's possible to own a handgun in Canada, just more difficult in terms of paperwork and time. So? Getting your hands on a .45 quickly is more important than the public safety?
    The doc shooting the crazy patient is a variation on the old saw that the NRA cites...."Last night in Chicago a 87 year old grandmother shot an intruder in her home".....the shrink toting a gun to work has a bit of a backstory I'll wager, and the grandmother is apocryphal.
    Guess that makes me a pacifist, eh? Wish I'd known that, in 1967-68 in VN, or in my hunting days, or when I lauded my son for his three deployments as a Army Ranger in the middle east.

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    1. You're right...it's definitely a toughie. I wish we didn't have those 300M guns out there right now, but the fact is they exist, and they are NOT (all) going to be turned in voluntarily. I think the best thing we can do to address gun violence is to AGGRESSIVELY enforce the laws we have on the books now. No piddly fines or hand slaps, but prison time for people caught in possession of guns who are expressly forbidden to have them.

      "Is getting your hands on a .45 quickly more important than the public safety.?" If someone is kicking in your door, yes. Otherwise, no. There are no simple answers.

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  5. I don't know anyone, even among my liberal friends, that think all guns should be eliminated. This is a lie conservatives promote. I don't speak for liberals but I see no need for private ownership of assault rifles that can shoot a hundred bullets in a minute. Republicans once endorsed a ban on assault rifles but that was back in the days after Reagan was shot when level heads in Congress prevailed.

    Another issue to consider is that many of these shootings might not happen if mental care was better funded. My family works for our local police department and mentally sick people have nowhere to seek help. Many of them shoot at cops hoping to be killed. It's called suicide by cop, yet these police men and women suffer terribly from having to shoot these people.

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    1. As I said, assault rifles are offensive weapons. The argument that you can use an AR-15 to hunt game with is absurd. If you're going to shoot someone 600' away, that's NOT defensive. You have ample time to escape. And I agree completely regarding the need for more mental health care. In almost every heinous shooting there is plenty of evidence of mental instability. Those people should never be allowed access to guns.

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  6. O.K. I'll weigh in. It's "cojones". The italics indicate a word from a foreign language. This one comes from Spanish.

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    1. Oops....you win. And I learned something. Thanks Bruce. :)

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  7. One of the most liberal people I know is Rosie O'Donnell. After Charlton Heston's famous expression "...from my cold, dead hands..." she said it (on her talk show?): No, we don't want your gun...just those of the criminals. But the NRA nuts continue with their, "Obama's gonna take your guns away."

    Gun violence is rare in Germany. Background checks, registrations, a letter from a doctor attesting to your mental health, and a test that makes the SATs seem like child's play... otherwise known as "big government" here. But my sister goes jogging at midnight in a city the size of Dallas. Alone.

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  8. Mental Health issues and lack of care - real care - that would probably have to come from a form of socialized medicine [oh yeah I went there] - because I feel many people that need mental health care can't afford it. But also to take an even more aggressive step back....do we have more mental health issues now and why? but that's another story. Back to guns. I think no matter why kind of background check-test-waiting-period, etc we establish or enforce...

    Not every gun in the US is registered right? We can't keep track of every single gun can we?

    And I am not sure we can put this genie back in the bottle....the US mentally thrives on their "old west" mentality and "American Revolution" history.....we are the ones who stand in the face of the aggressor ready to do battle. When the world cries for help - we come running. I think it's like the psychological heartbeat of this country

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  9. I do not think he will live a happy retirement, since he did kill his doc. However I do wonder if anyone else would have been shot if he was just allowed to walk out. It appeared his business was done. Too bad he did not use a knife, this gives guns a bad image. I do wonder what things are going to be like when all these kids coming to USA start packing guns to get what they want. Hey they saw it on TV.

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