Automatic Weapons Again

A statistic from Vox:  More Americans have been killed with guns since 1968 than have died in all of our wars going back to 1776. 

Now, we all know that the purpose of “automatic” weapons is to disable or kill many people very quickly. Rational Americans understand that no private citizen should legally possess powerful weapons of this kind or the ammunition that goes with them. The Constitution doesn’t give us the right to bear any kind of “arms” no matter how dangerous. Making these weapons illegal does not require going down the slippery slope to banning all firearms. The United States isn’t going to invade Texas and even Texas isn’t the Wild West. More guns and more powerful guns means more innocent people being maimed and killed.  

But if law-abiding citizens don’t own such weapons, only criminals will! That’s exactly right. Police and the armed forces will have access to these weapons in case they’re needed. Anybody else who has an automatic weapon will be and should be a criminal.

From New York Times op-ed writer Timothy Egan’s article about our latest massacre:

A day after the California carnage, the Senate decided to do nothing, again, voting down a measure that would have made it more difficult for people on the terror watch list, felons and the mentally ill to buy guns.

Well, it wasn’t as if the whole Senate made that decision:

YEAs (Do Something) — 45
Baldwin (D-WI)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coons (D-DE)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Hirono (D-HI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Peters (D-MI)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-NM)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs (Do Nothing) — 54
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Capito (R-WV)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Daines (R-MT)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Gardner (R-CO)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Perdue (R-GA)
Portman (R-OH)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

So, I have two recommendations. The first is for Democrats (D) and Independents (I): 

Support rational gun control, do what you can to make your position known and always vote, but never, ever vote for a Republican. 

The second is for Republicans (R):

Seek treatment from a qualified mental health professional. 


Times columnist Gail Collins describes some of the rationalizations offered by Republican politicians in support of doing nothing.

More Insanity

I started this blog 14 months ago, a few days after the massacre in Aurora, Colorado (the one in which 12 people were killed and 70 injured during a Batman movie). The title of my first post was “Insanity”.

Now we have another 12 people murdered in Washington, D.C. And their killer shot dead by the police.

According to an article called “Facing the Real Gun Problem” in the New York Review of Books, there have been 1.3 million Americans killed by firearms since 1960, either in suicides, homicides or accidents. The author of the article, David Cole, argues that we should strengthen background checks and improve gun safety in order to reduce the ongoing toll of death and injury. He thinks gun owners would support these kinds of measures if they could be convinced that their right to own guns wasn’t threatened.

For that reason, Cole doesn’t think we should try to ban assault weapons, since relatively few people are killed with assault weapons and gun owners fear that a ban on those guns would eventually lead us down a slippery slope toward banning all kinds of guns. I don’t agree with him about the assault weapon ban, but he makes some good points, including the need to decriminalize certain drugs and reduce our prison population. He believes that guns are here to stay in America, so we should do whatever we can as a nation to limit the carnage.

To get a sense of how guns are used every day to kill and maim, you can check out a blog called “The Gun Report” in the New York Times. One of their columnists, Joe Nocera, uses the blog to discuss gun-related issues, but he also presents a daily list of shootings from around the country. It’s a daily accounting of American insanity.

There are 19 incidents described in today’s entry of “The Gun Report”. Here are a couple, chosen at random:

Lance Wilson, 3, was shot in the head and killed at a mobile home park in Michigan City, Ind., Sunday afternoon. 24-year-old Zachariah L. Grisham, who is romantically involved with the victim’s mother, was charged with reckless homicide. Investigators found that Grisham and the victim had been playing a game, with the boy using his hand to pretend to shoot Grisham. During the game, Grisham took out a handgun and, thinking it was not loaded, pulled the trigger.

A man was shot in the face and critically wounded after a verbal altercation in the Caddo Heights neighborhood of Shreveport, La., Monday afternoon. Police said someone in a car opened fire on the victim, who was in a Toyota Camry. A white SUV was spotted leaving the scene.


Facing the Real Gun Problem:

The Gun Report:

What We’re Up Against, Part 2

It’s good to be skeptical about the results of public opinion polls, especially if it’s only a single poll reporting a result.

On the other hand, if this is true, it explains a lot. Personally, I can’t believe that 18% of Democrats believe this. Maybe they’re worried about the Tea Party taking over?

From a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll released today:

“Supporters and opponents of gun control have very different fundamental beliefs about the role of guns in American society. Overall, the poll finds that 29 percent of Americans think that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years, with another five percent unsure. However, these beliefs are conditional on party. Just 18 percent of Democrats think an armed revolution may be necessary, as opposed to 44 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of independents.”

What We’re Up Against Regarding Guns

The governor of Arizona has signed a law that requires guns acquired in gun buy-back programs to be sold. If a police department in Arizona buys your gun in order to reduce the likelihood that it will be used to commit a crime (such as shooting a police officer), they can’t destroy it. They have to sell it to a gun dealer, who can then resell it and return it to its rightful place in the community.

Police had argued that they were allowed to destroy guns acquired in such programs, even though an earlier Arizona law required that they sell any guns seized during crimes. The NRA and gun fanatics argued that destroying valuable weaponry is wasteful.

After Newtown

The first entry on this blog was written in response to the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, less than 5 months ago:

Tom Tomorrow offers a “generic cartoon” on the theory that nothing will change:

But maybe the horror of what happened in Newtown will finally make a difference. The NRA is trying to pretend that nothing happened last week. Certain politicians are reconsidering their positions. Maybe we can decide as a nation that some of us shouldn’t be allowed to exercise the right to bear arms, and none of us should be allowed to exercise that right by owning weapons designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

Nicholas Kristof calls attention to some sensible ways in which we can make this a more civilized country. For example, we could regulate guns as seriously as we regulate cars and ladders:

More Depravity

From Mitt Romney’s campaign website: “Mitt will enforce the laws already on the books and punish, to the fullest extent of the law, criminals who misuse firearms to commit crimes. But he does not support adding more laws and regulations that do nothing more than burden law-abiding citizens while being ignored by criminals.” 

Of course, professional criminals don’t massacre innocent civilians. There isn’t any money in it. The men who commit these crimes are angry and/or insane but otherwise ordinary people. They don’t have underworld connections. They would find it difficult or impossible to acquire military-style weapons if such weapons were illegal.  

According to Romney, we should simply work harder at catching these people after they shoot up a movie theater, school, campaign event or commuter train. 

Unfortunately, catching them after the fact has never been the problem. The problem is to prevent them from shooting lots of us in the first place.