Sandy Hook and gun control
About Sandy Hook and gun control…
I guess all the facts are still coming in, but what I last heard was that the shooter’s guns were all legally purchased by his mother, who he also shot, and that she was a kindergarten teacher.
So my first reaction was what the hell kind of a family is that where a mother who is a schoolteacher has multiple guns? The family must have been strange in some respects.
If my fact are wrong forgive me. Data is still being gathered.
My other feelings are, “What can be done about it?”
There are a lot of complicated issues which need to be taken into account. I do believe, like it or not, the U.S. constitution clearly allows some kind of gun ownership. The Supreme Court has ruled on that. And the constitution won’t be changed to delete the 2nd amendment. We are stuck with that and have to work around it. You can debate that point endlessly, but the constitution is the constitution.
I also don’t believe the government should be able to completely ban all gun ownership. There are too many examples of legitimate cases where people had to defend themselves and had no choice but to use a gun. One case that comes to mind is earlier this year when a single mother in a trailer with her baby called the police to say a man was trying to break in and could she shoot him in self defense if she had to. The operator who took the call said she could do whatever she needed to do to protect herself and her baby. I can’t see how any reasonable person would say people in situations like that don’t have the right to self defense. The same goes true for a person living in a city. People do have the right to self defense. I don’t see how any tragedy can be used to turn other people into murder victim statistics.
But reasonable limits don’t seem to be unconstitutional to me. Why did the shooter’s mother need 4 or 5 or 6 guns (depending on reports)? How many guns do you need to defend yourself?
And what kind of weapon is really legitimate? Automatics? Hand grenades? Portable missile launchers? Personal atomic weapons? Common sense tells you that legal limits on “arms” are constitutional, just like there are legal limits to free speech (slander, shouting fire in a crowded theater).
My suggestion is to allow one registered gun for personal defense to people who pass background checks, are adults, and who show they have gone through training and who have to get their certification renewed to show they are still competent, sane and capable (like renewing a driver’s license). And any public venue should certainly have the right to ban all weapons upon entering the area. And people who violate these laws should have the book thrown at them.
I don’t know if more is possible really, considering constitutional limitations.
There are reasons beyond self defense for owning guns – hunting and competitive shooting sports come to mind. As with any tool, there are different guns for different tasks: a handgun isn’t effective for duck hunting. I would guess that the majority of gun owners have more than one gun.
My belief is that the ongoing rant about gun control is just another case of political misdirection. Our leaders are incapable of dealing with the real issues behind most violence: drugs, substance abuse, and mental illness. It’s much easier to pontificate about banning guns even though there’s little reason to believe that draconian gun control laws would have significant impact on these kinds of crimes.
Well, if you have lots of guns doesn’t it make sense that it makes it easier for you to kill more people?
Here’s what I found from Googling and checking Wolfram Alpha. The last data available for both countries is 2009. In that year there were about 15,000 murders in the U.S. and population was 307 million people. That means there were about 4.9 murders per 100,000 people.
In Japan there were 1,097 murders and the population was 127 million. That means there were about 0.86 murders per 100,000 people.
So the murder rate in the U.S. is about 5.6 times higher than the murder rate in Japan. Unless Americans are 5.6 times more unbalanced than Japanese it could be argued the difference is due to the availability of lots of guns.
Does having four or five computers make a programmer four or five times as productive? Effectively firing two long guns at a time is impossible, and while two hanguns is possible the Mythbusters demonstrated recently that it would take a lot of practice to be good.
I think the difference in murder rate in the U.S. vs. Japan has a lot more to do with culture and society than with gun control laws. There’s little evidence that gun control laws have a significant effect on murder rates – compare the murder rate in Vermont (1.3 per 100K), which has relaxed gun laws, vs. my own state of California (4.8 per 100K) which has extremely restrictive gun laws. One could argue that gun control laws are likely to actually increase the murder rate!
This morning I heard a news report that the school’s principal died in a vain attack to body tackle the shooter. Had he had been armed, the odds would have been more in his favor. If all the teachers in that school had been carrying weapons and skilled in their use, would the casualty rate have been so high? Perhaps the best approach to preventing something like this from happening again would be to require handgun proficiency from schoolteachers just as we do with police officers.