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Gun control commentary

2013-01-16 15:35:40.075274-08 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

Larry responds to proposed gun control laws, and asks for input. Here's mine.

So, the first thing I'd like to see is a classification of reasons for gun related injuries and deaths, and that every proposed solution contain a rationale for which of those reasons that solution addresses. I realize that the NRA has done its best to suppress some of the research necessary to make truly informed decisions on these points, but I'll settle for ballpark figures if you don't have hard data. For instance (and taking Larry's numbered points in order), in the comments:

[ related topics: Guns Government Weblogs Interactive Drama ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-01-16 15:37:29.418532-08 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

1) Require criminal background checks for all gun sales. (a.k.a. closing the “;;gun show loophole.”;;)

How much gun violence is perpetrated by people who'd fail these criminal background checks? Do we have an estimate of how many off-the-books sales there are are? As Larry points out, this requires the registration of all firearms. This is something we're willing to do with automobiles.

2) Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.

This is really "ban guns I don't like the look of", or "keep the guns away from people who like lightweight stocks and pistol grips, rather than appreciating the refined elegance of a polished walnut stock". Come back to me when you can better quantify what you mean by "assault weapons".

Edit: I'd also note that long guns, a category under which "assault rifles" falls, aren't involved in a lot of gun deaths relative to handguns.

3) Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.

4) Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.

Data? How many fewer people would be killed or injured with smaller magazines? On that second point, of the 3 or so officers killed in the line of duty each week, how many are shot vs killed in automobile accidents? How many of those shot were killed because their protective equipment was penetrated by the projectile? My guess is that we're getting pretty close to statistical error at this point.

5) Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.

What tools? In the past decade or so we've had a whole bunch of law enforcement tools rammed down the legislative pipeline without justification. I want more detail.

6) End the freeze on gun violence research.

My complaints so far are all about a lack of data, so, yes, I want to see more data. Fund the CDC and NIH and the USDOJ at least couple of million bucks to look into this further.

7) Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.

As Larry points out, this seems like a state issue, but let's do some risk/reward and economic evaluation. You can start with this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...l_shootings_in_the_United_States

Really? Let's make our homes safer, because kids are way more likely to be shot there.

8) Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.

Sure, but, and I haven't dug into the data much, I suspect that most shootings aren't the result of mental illness, they're the result of bad neighborhoods and poverty. Does "mental health treatment" include "proven techniques for gang violence mitigation"?

And I know that when I lived in the deep south, "mental health treatment" and "young people" was often code for "commit the teenagers to an institution because they're rebelling against my church's hate".

9) Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

Two things: First, change our healthcare system so that we're not paying way more for worse outcomes than most of the rest of the developed world. Second, show me that those mental health benefits have proven value. Because frankly at this point my experience with both psychiatry and psychology is not all positive.

Really, at this point what's going to be most effective is finding ways to restrict firearms ownership. Most of that is probably about making firearms more expensive, and mandating registration and licensing of them. If you want to build the political will to do that, then we need to start gathering data, #6, but everything else is knee-jerk, likely to be extremely expensive, politically difficult, and probably cost us more than it saves us.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-01-16 17:25:53.448471-08 by: Dan Lyke

Slate tallies every American gun death since the Newtown/Sandy Hook shootings.

It would be nice to have some breakdowns of their demographics and how each of these proposals would have impacted them.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-01-17 03:25:09.504474-08 by: DaveP [edit history]

Number 1: Implementation matters a lot. If access to NICS checks were freely available to all, with no tracking of the gun, buyer or seller, most gun-owners I know would be happy to run a check on buyers before transferring a gun. Give us a way to know if the person we're about to sell to is okay. But I hear claims all the time that loophole transactions are forty percent of all gun sales, and I call BS on that one. At least in the crowd of shooters I know, fewer than ten percent of all transactions are private sales. Most of us buy guns and only sell them when we have to (i.e. the safe got too full).

Number 3: Implementation matters a lot, too. Are over-capacity magazines grandfathered in, or will they need to be destroyed as in New York? Big difference between the two - I bought magazines larger than 10 rounds while the 1994 AWB was in effect, they just cost about 5x what they should have.

Number 4: Almost all rifle bullets are armor piercing. Further the cheapest Russian surplus ammunition is steel-core, which is actually pretty effective AP ammo, whether intended to be or not. I'm pretty sure they're trying to dry up the "surplus" market here - Izhmash, and for that matter, the city of Izhevsk, Udmurtia pretty much survives on sales made to the USA.

Number 8: The added tracking for "mental health issues" proposed worries the hell out of me. Current regulations already stigmatize mental-health issues in the shooting community to the point that some people don't get treated when they should, because doing so would mean they could no longer legally purchase firearms. Question 11f on the 4473 is the specific question, and broadening that at all doesn't seem like a good idea because then people will avoid treatment because of the stigma.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-01-17 08:03:44.220323-08 by: Dan Lyke

So regarding #8 and stigmatizing "mental health" issues, I was reading Salon: The Hitler gun control lie and realized that if you wanted to draw parallels to Nazi Germany, you'd start labeling specific classes of people, perhaps based on their beliefs, and making sure that there were restrictions on what those people could own and do...

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