Monday, December 10, 2012

Yet Another Shooting

Here's the second in a series on guns

After another in a succession of publicized shootings, all I did was ask a simple question.

This is what followed.


Bill Mancuso
Yet another shooting. But it's probably still not the time to discuss gun control, right?

Huffington Post: NYPD Gunfire In Empire State Building Shooting Wounded All Nine Bystanders, Says Ray Kelly

If someone wants a gun to do some crazy illegal shit, is a gun control law gonna stop them?

This was right outside my office building exactly where I park and enter the building. Some coworkers witnessed this insanity. One even chased the shooter. These people are my's too close to home. When the heck are people going to wake up? Sigh.

If I am willing to murder, does anyone imagine that I'm going to be unwilling to get an illegal handgun?

It's a larger problem than just getting rid of guns, RB. How about we start with helping /supporting families raising children?

What does that have to do with talking about gun control? As far as I know, Bill and I aren't far apart on our thoughts on gun control.

I'm just not sure how over-reacting to the shark attack nature of these stories will help anything. Remember many years ago when we had the summer of the shark attack, and people were being gobbled up by sharks? There were actually fewer shark attacks than normal - we just got to hear about every single one of them.

This is the same thing. Do you know how many incidents of violent gun-related crimes have happened around me in the past decade? Zero. But because of media coverage, I feel like they are happening all around me, always. But they aren't.

I strongly believe that it's ok to put parameters around owning guns. But almost everyone that has ever owned any sort of gun that was legally purchased has never used it to commit a crime. So maybe we should relax and conclude that today's tragedy wasn't really about the fact that a gun was involved?

I dunno.

[This is actually the opposite of the 'Shark Attacks' scenario. There are MORE gun-deaths than reported, not LESS. Maybe the problem is that we don’t hear about all 30,000 violent gun-related incidents and 18,000 gun suicides that happen every year. Perhaps if we did, people wouldn’t so easily be able to claim guns are everyone’s right to own and block even the simplest of regulations. It’s not about making you feel like they are happening all around you personally, just making you realize that they are happening all around the country all the time – not just the extremely few media sensation cases that are ever reported like Treyvon Martin. He was murdered with a legally owned gun. As were the Aurora theater victims. As were those at the Gabby Giffords shooting. As was in he Jovan Belcher murder/suicide. As were those at the Sikh Temple shootings. As were the seven other examples in my previous post. As were etc, etc, etc, etc… It isn't what happens to each individual personally. It's about the larger picture. How's this for a similar argument - "Do you know how many malaria-caused deaths happened around me in the past decade? Zero." I have never met a person with malaria or ever heard of anyone I know who knew someone with malaria. But according to the World Health Organization and the Global Action Malaria Plan, in 2010, malaria caused an estimated 216 million clinical episodes, and 655,000 deaths. An estimated 91% of deaths in 2010 were in the African Region, followed by 6% in the South-East Asian Region and 3% in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (3%). About 86% of deaths globally were in children. Just because something isn't happening directly in front of you, that doesn't mean it's not happening.]

Bill Mancuso
First of all, I thought I said now is NOT the time to discuss gun control?

Second, if you want to do some crazy illegal shit with a gun, and perhaps it is slightly more difficult to get your hands on a gun than having absolutely no effective gun control laws like we do now, maybe you'll settle for a knife? Or a fist? Something a little bit more defendable against. Even if an effective law curtails only one person from murdering, wouldn't that be enough? I understand it's difficult to express the "would have" or "could have" part of an argument. Like - 'the economy would have been worse if not for the stimulus bill' is a hard point to argue since the average person can't measure what would have happened if there were no stimulus bill.

Third, if you are willing to murder and are willing to get an illegal handgun, see the Second point above.

Fourth, violent gun-related murders may not be happening around everyone, but the family members of 10,000 people gun-murdered per year may wish to argue your point that it's an over-reaction. A little less than the 15 or so shark killings. Also, sharks are not an option, they are nature (Give it time, though. Asian soup recipes may put an end to nature.). Manufacturing and regulating guns is a man-made option, so that's a false equivalency, not nearly "the same thing."

Fifth, the problem is that the parameters around owning guns are so weak, they are ineffective to the point of non-existence. The NRA and people of the like, would have us believe that all our rights are being assaulted and taken away and we must fight to hold onto them. The reality of the situation is that the NRA has already effectively removed gun control regulations and we are fighting to actually have some put in place.

We can purchase guns anonymously over the internet and at gun shows and at meet-ups in parking lots, a "right" the NRA leadership fights vigorously for - against 75% of its own members' wishes. These NRA-backed laws protect these anonymous transactions (a direct cause of the Fast and Furious debacle and not the Obama administration conspiracy theory that the right-wing purports). How is this counted as having our rights taken away? Already nothing is stopping anyone at all.

Another argument is that people just need to be tolerant and educated about guns and that would stop the gun violence. Does anyone not know what guns do? Does anyone try to use guns for a purpose other than what they are used for? We've been educated for centuries about what guns do. Gun education is not a new concept.

The simple, inarguable fact is, statistics prove that places with more stricter gun control has less of a percentage of gun violence and deaths. And that occurs with people still being allowed to own guns.

As I've said in a previous discussion that was not the time to have:
One jackass puts a bomb in his shoe once, and everyone in the United States is forced to take their shoes off for 10 years and counting. A magnificent example of completely useless legislation masquerading as a safety measure. In that same time period, over 100,000 gun homicides occurred and we're still debating the amount of firepower we're allowed to kill each other with. [It's more like "The amount of firepower we think we have the Constitutional right to kill each other with."] We have been educated. It is obviously not working. And we are fantastically over-tolerant of gun violence already.

Funny, I didn't think anyone would comment on this post. You never know.

Bill, with all due respect, your initial comment about it not being the time oozed sarcasm. ;)

Bill Mancuso
Yes. I was being facetious about that. As evidenced by my rather lengthy addition to the discussion. [I don’t do emoticons. I admit they would help in misunderstandable situations like this. But I just can't bring myself to do them.]

Bill, where did this guy live? I was assuming NY, NJ or CT. Whichever it is, I'd be curious to examine what the relevant barriers were to this guy getting a gun. I suspect that if it's one of those three (particularly the People's Republic), then the list of ineffective gun control laws that this guy had to hurdle was already lengthy. Assuming he was using a legally-obtained weapon.

10,000 gun homicides per year in a country with about 310 million people? Also, how many of those guns are legal guns being used in crimes by the owner? Also, how many of those are drug/gang-related killings? Because I don't particularly care if gang-bangers are killing each other with guns, as long as they minimize collateral damage.

For reference, over the same span, about 400,000 people died in car accidents, and I'm not falling over myself to deal with that either. For another point of reference, it takes cancer less than 3 months to kill as many people as an entire decade of gun violence.

I get that dealing with these various ways that people can die aren't mutually exclusive. We can address gun violence while simultaneously fighting to cure cancer. But I'm not sure that I agree that the problem is as great as you think it is, while I simultaneously think that it is far more difficult to control than you think it is.

Moreso considering that the folks that want to deal with this problem are the same people that created all of the ineffective hurdles that this guy jumped over.
Also, one thing that I have argued with my brother [Richard] about in the past is the notion that armed citizens would be effective at containing situations like this. The victim killed his target and didn't wound anyone else. All nine wounded at the scene were shot by police trying to subdue the shooter. At least according to the NYPD. So maybe we can stop pretending that additional armed citizens opening fire in these situations will resolve them sooner or with less loss of life.

Bill Mancuso
I'm not suggesting that stricter laws would have prevented this incident. I'm not even suggesting that stricter laws would have prevented the last 12 murder sprees. All I'm pointing out is that we have no restrictive gun laws. And that apparently it's never, under any circumstances, ever a time to ever even think about possibly having at least the notion of a conversation about gun safety laws as far as the NRA leaders and others of similar mind(less) are concerned. And that at some point some laws will help in some situations. And that for a fact, statistics back up my argument. I'm just happy you're not cherry-picking parts of a 200+ year-old document to bludgeon me with outdated ideas that do not match modern times.

(By "People's Republic," are you referring to New Jersey as "The People's Republik of New Jermany" as your brother so eloquently describes it? Please.)

10,000 gun homicides/year is not an insignificant amount. Many are by legally owned guns. And that further proves my point that we have virtually no restrictions. Another problem is that gang-banger shoot-outs quite often result in collateral homicides. What amount of collateral homicides do you believe would be acceptable? [A great example where limited magazine capacity would restrict the amount of lead flying around during drive-by’s and shoot-outs, thereby lowering collateral deaths. If it takes you passing by two houses while re-loading after every 10 or so rounds, that’s two houses worth of innocent occupants not in the line of fire.]

Cars are specifically manufactured for transportation, not to kill, as guns specifically are. Car manufacturing and operation is heavily regulated. Way more than guns. Accidents are accidents, not intentional mass murders. Those are two wildly different scenarios and are not equivalent.

Cancer is nature. Things that we know that cause cancer, like cigarettes, are more regulated than guns. We can barely smoke in our own homes anymore. And smoking only kills the smoker, who is aware of this information. You can leave a room containing second-hand smoke - you can't dodge a bullet. You can't go on a murder spree with things that cause cancer (Unless you have a few tanks of DDT you run around spraying people with.). This is also a false equivalency, and I know you know this, so why did you bring it up?

The problem may not be as great as I think, but the United States is the country with the most gun homicides in the industrialized world. Eight times higher than its economic counterparts. A gun homicide rate that's twelve times higher than the next 25 industrialized nations combined among children 15 and under.

And yes. It is absolutely quite difficult to control. I never said it wasn't. The problem is powerful lobbyist money and spineless/greedy politicians. Pretty much the perennial problem in all governance situations. Along with the gun genie already being out of the bottle, so to speak. But the answer is to not even bother trying to make things better?

And of course armed citizens in these situations will never help. That's what I call the "Bruce Willis Action Fantasy" world that gun nuts like your brother think they are living in. Trained police officers have a 15% accuracy rate in live gun battles. Imagine a smoky, tear-gassed movie theater full of people who aren't nearly as trained as police all shooting wildly in the dark. The death toll would have been absolutely magnificent.

I didn't bring up cars or cancer as equivalent to guns in terms of the METHOD of death. I wasn't suggesting that car manufacturers are intentionally manufacturing killing machines. Nor was I suggesting that getting and dying from cancer was the same as dodging bullets in a crowded street.

I brought it up because the scale of those things resets my impression of the scale of 10k gun-related deaths in a nation of 315M people. And I'm guessing that it wouldn't be that hard at all for me to reduce that number even further by removing the gun deaths that I don't actually care about, or which are the result of using illegally obtained guns.

And yes the People's Republic refers to NJ, which is the worst state in the union, for a lot of reasons. :) [No examples? Except that NJ is a maker state. As opposed to almost all the southern taker states. And yes, NJ has arguably the strictest gun control laws in the US. That’s why Philly is the place to get guns for NJ.]

[The amount of people dying from uncontrollable cancer and car accidents are not equivalent to people being intentionally murdered by weapons specifically designed to kill – something over which we DO have control. Allegedly. ‘Impression of scale’ is not applicable.]

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Wuxtry! Wuxtry!

Legally owned gun.

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Read all about it!

Legally owned gun.

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Hey, remember the tales of the Wild West? That safe, tranquil period in American history when everybody walked around with guns and there was no crime? Yeah. Since it was so safe and tranquil, I wonder why it was called the Wild West?

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