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Gun control - a suggestion
Posted: 02 April 2005 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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A previous poster stated that changing gun laws in the US isn’t going to work, because we need to change our culture.  That sums it up better than anything else.  We in this country do live in a gun culture, the intensity of which varies depending on what part of the country you’re from.  In the south and west for example, gun ownership is much more common and less alarming.  Here in the northeast however, it’s much less common to find the typical home with any firearms.  The connection I think is politics.  Red vs. blue states, for example you won’t find too many NRA members also supporting democratic candidates. 

Let’s face facts: Those who own guns like them because they’re fun, plain and simple.  You can hold in your hand a small piece of metal with almost incomprehensible killing power.  That’s an addictive and compelling feeling.  Gun defenders will always point out the fact that target shooting is a (normally) safe use of a gun.  But guns are designed for killing, no amount of rationalization will ever change that.  Some may also point out that hunting is a valid reason for owning guns.  I am a gun owner, but I am not a hunter, I get no pleasure from the idea of killing something.  And none of us, NONE of us need to hunt for subsistence unless we have some eskimos with Internet connections in their igloos reading this. 

I like my Ruger 1022 rifle and Smith&Wesson; 9 mm pistol.  But I keep them locked and unloaded, because I recognize that they are lethal weapons.  And I will probably get rid of them when I start a family, because too many children do find ways to get to their parents’ guns with results such as we see almost daily on the news.  I won’t be a part of that.

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Posted: 04 April 2005 01:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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[quote author=“CDarrow”]Let’s face facts: Those who own guns like them because they’re fun, plain and simple.


But that’s not the basis for our right to keep and bear them. The fact that we have a right to defend ourselves and guns are by far the most effective means by which to do so is the issue when it comes to the civil liberties issue. The idea that the government should have a great deal of control over such a fundamental right should scare the shite out of most people, but we’re a nation that doesn’t really value freedom—only the show of veneration of it. I’m not sure it’s really a new thing, but it’s wuite clear that most Americans much prefer a sense of security (which is more often than not just an illusion in reality) over freedom.

[quote author=“CDarrow”]You can hold in your hand a small piece of metal with almost incomprehensible killing power. That’s an addictive and compelling feeling.


I’m afraid there seems to be something to that, though I’d also say you’ve rather overstated the matter (on both counts). It also seems to be much more “in play” so to speak, the less familiar a given individual is with firearms and individual tactics. If you see what a gun does firsthand this appeal falls flat—at least that’s my own experience (IMO Clint Eastwood of all people did a fantastic job illustrating this in “The Unforgiven”).

[quote author=“CDarrow”]Gun defenders will always point out the fact that target shooting is a (normally) safe use of a gun. But guns are designed for killing, no amount of rationalization will ever change that.


Target .22s are rather poorly designed for tactical use. .25s and air rifles even less so. .22s and air rifles are, however, effective (and economically friendly) for hunting small game and target shooting.

But I’m not sure why so many people think the tactical function of guns needs to be rationalized. Self defense is a very fundamental right. If your ability to defend your own life is subject to the approval of the government, that’s pretty damn invasive. It’s odd that so many people seem to have such a difficult time with that.

[quote author=“CDarrow”]Some may also point out that hunting is a valid reason for owning guns. I am a gun owner, but I am not a hunter, I get no pleasure from the idea of killing something. And none of us, NONE of us need to hunt for subsistence unless we have some eskimos with Internet connections in their igloos reading this.


Herd management is necessary regardless of subsistence needs, and I think shelters and other organizations that provide food for the poor and homeless would be pretty quick to disagree how useless hunting is for subsistence.

[quote author=“CDarrow”]I like my Ruger 1022 rifle and Smith&Wesson; 9 mm pistol. But I keep them locked and unloaded, because I recognize that they are lethal weapons.


I keep some of my firearms “at the ready” in the extremely unlikely case that I might need to defend myself and my wife from an assailant. The risk of keeping a gun (or guns) loaded and ready is nearly nonexistent for those who have even a passing familiarity with them and have the sense to observe the basic (rather intuitive) safety rules. So the “risk” (which is nearly nonexistent) is outweighed by the potential benefit (which is highly unlikely).

[quote author=“CDarrow”]And I will probably get rid of them when I start a family, because too many children do find ways to get to their parents’ guns with results such as we see almost daily on the news. I won’t be a part of that.


I understand that, but his perception that kids are the victims of “daily” gun accidents seems odd to me. It’s simply not true, and there’s no reason to think it is unless you listen to the rather fantastical propaganda of anti-gun organizations (who as I pointed out before have to take quite a bit of “artistic license” to come up with the stats they have on “kids and guns”).

That aside, I think the best way to “gun-proof” a kid is to have him shoot one of a respectable caliber (9mm at least) at a young age. It’s very easy to do this safely (help the kid hold the weapon until he’s safely set and ready to fire it, and only load one round). Once a young’n has experienced firing a gun he’ll have no doubts what-so-ever that it’s not a toy (recoil makes quite an impression).

This is the same behavioral pattern we expect of kids in all sorts of other areas (like mowing the lawn and other “adult” type activities they quickly become less fascinated and enamored with given experience), guns are no different. Closely supervised experience satisfies curiosity and let’s a kid know, very clearly, that a gun (or a power tool) is potentially dangerous.

That said, I certainly wouldn’t presume the role of any given parent. I have no kids of my own, so I can’t even say how I’d handle the situation with much confidence (my understanding is that theories of parenting tend to be drastically altered with actual experience, much like kids’ attitudes about doing “adult” things). I just know familiarity with guns seems to be the most effective means of “gun-proofing” kids based upon my personal experience as a kid, and a pretty large body of secondhand data.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 04 April 2005 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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A few observations:

Most people, given the chance, would concede that the real problem is the people, and not the guns.  The news is not innundated with stories of guns going off spontaneously and killing people.  The stories we hear are of people (mis)using guns, thus resulting in human injury and death.

As citizens in a (theoretically) representative system of government, I submit that our duty is to work together to minimize (needless?) human suffering and hope that anything which we do does not have unintended consequences which outweigh the positive effects of our efforts.

I went looking for some statistics to see if the gun issue actually warrants so much concern, and (as I thought it would) the statistics indicate that while arguably a problem, there are other causes of death which should probably inspire greater concern.  To see what the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has to say about this, go here:  

Although gun deaths seem “very bad”, I think that the stats speak volumes.  Increasing efforts to curb smoking and to improve diet and exercise is likely to have a far greater cost/benefit ratio than attempting to eliminate gun deaths.  Of course, one could argue that gun deaths might not be someone’s own fault, whereas smoking or diet is, I would say that as these causes of death tend to come later in life (12 year olds, even if they are chain smokers, don’t tend to die immediately from it) they have collateral damage to spouses, children, and so on.

I don’t really offer any answers here, other than to point out that gun death as an issue is a distraction, or possibly it is focused on because the larger issues seem so insurmountable.

-Matt

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Posted: 05 April 2005 12:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Another point that never came up is that if you value freedom, you don’t advocate taking away any civil liberties without taking great care to be damn certain it needs to be given up. Regarding guns that default tends to be reversed (again, same with the drug war, and I guess religion has an arguably related reversal thing going on as well).

Most anti-gun gun control advocates seem more than willing to take away a fundamental civil liberty (the right to defend yourself is a pretty good candidate for the most fundamental) without having taken the basic responsibilty to ensure it’s even a good idea (and they often advocate counterproductive measures as a result, like banning handguns, or specifically pocket guns, gun buy-backs . . .).

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 05 April 2005 02:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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[quote author=“SkepticX”]Another point that never came up is that if you value freedom, you don’t advocate taking away any civil liberties without taking great care to be damn certain it needs to be given up.

Most anti-gun gun control advocates seem more than willing to take away a fundamental civil liberty (the right to defend yourself is a pretty good candidate for the most fundamental) without having taken the basic responsibilty to ensure it’s even a good idea (and they often advocate counterproductive measures as a result, like banning handguns, or specifically pocket guns, gun buy-backs . . .).

I agree 100%. It is completely unnecessary to go mucking with the second amendment or with any of the other amendments. With the notable exception of the 18th (which initiated Prohibition), every single constitutional amendment is a triumph of the collective wisdom of the american people (with special recognition due to the Founding Fathers).

One thing that always seems to be overlooked or marginalized in this debate is that a huge number of gun-related deaths are a direct consequence of ignorance of basic gun safety. (I don’t know the exact numbers. Anyone have the data?) I believe that the 2nd amendment makes it pretty clear that possessing firearms is not only the right, but the duty, of American citizens. If you ask me (which admittedly noone has done yet), I think that basic gun safety should be included in every Civics class. If, in the name of public health and safety, we can teach sex education in public schools (which I have no objection to; I took a sex-ed class myself, at a catholic school, no less) then why not teach children how to handle firearms in a safe manner?

- Bulldog

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