Thursday, December 27, 2012

Considering the recent debates on gun laws and school safety in the United States, I looked up a few figures to aid us in our debates.  Feel free to use or abuse them as we move forward. 

Some of the data may surprise you.  For example, I expected accidental deaths to be a higher percentage of the totals among death of children due to firearms.

Number of Schools in the United States (2009-10 School Year)
Public: 98,817
Private: 33,366

Number of Teachers in the United States:
3.7 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) elementary and secondary school teachers in fall 2011

    This above information and additional data is available at the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Number of Gun-Related Deaths in the United States (2010 - excludes small percentage of deaths due to law enforcement)

All Ages
Total: 31,328. (Breakdown not provided at this source.)

Kids, Ages 1 to 14:                                      
Homicide: 208                    
Suicide: 81
Accidental Death: 62
Totals:* 369

Kids, Ages 15 to 19:
Homicide: 1,554
Suicide: 668
Accidental Death: 72
Totals:* 2,315

    The information above and additional data is available at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The data above came from a report compiling statistics on gun-related deaths from 1999 to 2010.

As you can see in the charts at the CDC link above, the rate of death by firearms relative to the population has overall been flat in the U.S., with the possible expception of the rates of death among teens (ages 15 to 19), which seems to have been dropping over the time period.

* Why the totals do not add up exactly, is not clear.


Merry Happy Christmahanukwaanzakkah

Monday, December 24, 2012

Just when Jay finally...finally...busts out the real science I was hoping he'd get to, I would like to take a pause in our raging, passionate, and actually engaging and well-informed gun discussion to wish everyone the Happiest, Merriest Christmahanukwaanzakkah.

Whomever you are here on this blog, be you contributor, author, guest, commenter, or stalker, Around the Keg wishes you and yours all the best.

Except trolls.

No, even trolls.  'Tis the season.

Love you all!  Arguing to ensue after the holiday reprieve.  So...Wednesday.


Today in poorly timed PR...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Moments ago National Rifle Assoc. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre (dickhead, liar, fucking wing-nut) held a press conference regarding the recent mass shootings. 

LaPierre made a couple suggestions for combating violence in our schools, including: improved mental health treatment (good idea) and putting a cop in every school (maybe an OK idea, but my estimated cost $9.88 billion annually). 

Shorter LaPierre:  Please protect American kids from my target membership.

He also proposed a great new slogan, soon to come to a pro-NRA bumper sticker near you: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

Effective immediately, the new slogan will replace:  "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

LaPierre video here.

Making this the most poorly timed presser ever, another seemingly random shooting took place while LaPierre was speaking. 3 are dead. Details unknown.

News story link here.


My Slightly Informed Opinion on Gun Regulations

Where do we go from here? The regulations I propose below are what I think we should consider. I have not given much thought to what might already be in place or where it bumps up against the 2nd Amendment.

1) Personal Responsibility.
Having personally witnessed a great deal of stupidity when it comes to handling firearms, I have always thought we need strict penalties for irresponsible behavior. In the case of the Newtown shooting, the rifle used was purchased legally. As far as I know, there would be no penalties for the woman who owned it allowing her mentally ill kid access to the weapon. (Had she lived.) If your kid gets a hold of your gun, especially if someone is hurt because of it, you should serve time. Once a Michigan legislator had a handgun drop out of his pocket in the middle of a committee hearing. (If the urban legend is true.) There should have been a penalty for his stupidity as it endangered others. I have personally seen a parent hand rifles to their 10-year-old and let them run off and have fun. Maybe this one is already illegal?

In my experience people have acted as if the rights provided by the 2nd Amendment means freedom from responsibility. If we do nothing else, we need to change that mindset. That is definitely not how I was raised around firearms.

2) Capacity.
I would support a strict limit on magazine capacity. Capacity should be limited to the single digits. Since I have limited knowledge of firearms, I think of hunting shotguns with a four-shell magazine and handguns with something more reasonable than a 10 + magazine capacity. In a recent editorial in the LA Times, a judge who sentenced Congresswomen Gabby Gifford’s assailant and the killer of 6 others said: “Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another.”

3) Ownership limitations
I would support a limit on the number of weapons you own. Sorry if it infringes on your hobby or fun collection, but your arsenal is unnecessary in a civilized society. Take up stamp collecting. Let’s debate this one.

4) Certain weapons banned.
There should be a ban on certain weapons based on their technical performance. As Smitty says: guns are killing machines. We have a constitutional right to a certain level of killing machine. I am not sure you could argue we have the right a mass-killing machine. I have little doubt we could come up with a list of impermissible characteristics based on their technical performance.

5) Call me a gun-grabber.
Banned firearms, clips, etc. should be bought back by the government at a higher than market price. I don’t support grandfathering existing weapons from restrictions as was done previously. It sounds like Australia has a model for this program. I would like to learn more about it.

6) Ammunition Sales Ammunition sales should be limited.
I am betting this one would be difficult to enforce. I recently read that once you obtain a gun permit in Israel, you are issued your only supply of ammunition. Interesting concept. Liquor sales are controlled by state government. Why not other items?

7) Better and more widely used background checks.
I need to better understand private sale regulations, but this is what I think... Background checks should be instantaneous, reliable, applicable to all guns sales, and include the private sales of weapons. You should need to obtain a purchase permit with your background check before you buy a weapon in a private sale. If you sell a weapon privately without obtaining a copy of said check, you should see a penalty. This would also require a better involvement from mental health providers and would require a discussion about mental illness and confidentiality. I know people can still obtain weapons illegally, but that is no excuse for handing weapons to the mentally ill or to those with a violent background.



We once laughed at ideas now advocated by Congressmen.


What Happens Next?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Though it is not directed at us, the President is asking for concrete proposals. While I think it is a good idea to take a little bit of time to consider policy, I was disappointed that he also called for an Assault Weapons Ban and ban on "high capacity clips." I understand that any significant reduction in crime or increase in safety is a good thing, I disagree that the above mentioned policies will do anything. So, my questions is what kinds of things should we try?


Who ARE We?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Steve and I just had a quick back-and-forth at the end of the comments section of the previous post, in which I list a few suggestions that don't and do bug me.  I agree with Steve:  let's do that next, because we start to hash-out some actual policy suggestions that have come up recently, and of which there will certainly be more as Congress will apparently begin to actually debate this issue.

But for now, after reading posts like this, I simply need to say:

Who the hell are we??  What kind of society do we live in where we actually suggest that having armed teachers is a good thing??

Accidental-discharge deaths aside, nobody anywhere arms their teachers because it is just...wrong.

So seriously.  In what kind of strange alternate reality do we dwell where arming teachers like airline pilots and US Marshalls seems like a reasonable suggestion?  Are we so insane, so fearful and so violent that we feel like from now on, we need armed people in classrooms?  This isn't some sort of minor issue from the nutbags.  This is a seriously-debated topic here in Lansing among Serious People.

Or that maybe the reason the kids died is let's-blame-the-victim-because-they-shoulda-bum-rushed-the-gunman?

Good fucking holy mooley on a beach, people.

Look, if the folks who want some gun control measures have to claim the Dirty Hippies and pro-ban-on-everything people on their side, then the anti-ban folks have to claim the "let's arm the teachers" people on their side.  Then we can summarily dismiss them.


My Poor Michigan.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If one wanted to destroy a community, how would you do it?

A good way would be to increase taxes on average people, parents and retirees. Then you would defund local government, and starve it of resources for cops, firefighters, and libraries. You would drive up the cost of higher education to unaffordable levels. You would implement laws to push down wages. You would endanger children by allowing weapons in classrooms, churches and sporting events. You would pass bills alienating one of the state's largest religious minorities. You would finally implement laws to prevent it from being undone.

 If you think the above is just hyperbole, consider all the ideas above were passed by the Republicans in the Michigan legislature this session, most in the last 12 hours.

 Why would any young person remain here?


Man-Boy Movies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I don't know if this looks stupid or cool - maybe both - but it has big robots smashing big monsters, so my lizard brain likes it.

Pacific Rim Official Trailer by teasertrailer


Beer Fights Colds

Not all the news I read this week is depressing. A study done in Japan shows that compound found in beer has anti-viral properties.

In research with scientists at Sapporo Medical University, the compound -- humulone -- was found to be effective in curbing the respiratory syncytial (RS) virus, said the company, which funded the study.


Right to Freeload

Friday, December 07, 2012

So-called Right to Work legislation passed the legislature today.  Bills from the House and Senate cleared in tight margins, and each need one more vote next week.

States with Right to Work laws, bastions of economic progress like Mississippi and Alabama, tend to have lower wages, less robust health care coverage, and higher unemployment.  They have an increase in workplace injury.  A decrease in education and living standards.

Somehow, Right to Work is part of Michigan's reinvention, from a Governor who stated he was against it (but is now obviously for it).

No, Right to Work doesn't break-up a union.  It doesn't make them "illegal."  But it does undo them; worker by worker, benefit by benefit they can no longer afford to fight for, it erodes unions.  Right to Work becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; all you have to do is erode a union and then point to how ineffective unions are.

At the risk of melodrama:

I fought and bled and generations of Marines died for my right to call myself a Marine.  Being a Marine  is not only something I had to earn with toil, but you have to keep earning it, beyond death.  I know what it is to earn something with blood.

Generations ago, workers who tried to organize were arrested, shot, beaten and killed.  Unions exist now on blood shed then.  Unions and the protections they grant were earned in blood.

When someone wants to take something away or diminish something that is earned in blood, it's a disgrace.  It's an insult.  It's a willful slight to the sacrifices of the past.

And for what?

Please someone say "the unions are their own worse enemy."  You can earn that statement with blood...



Potential Drunks

Search This Blog

  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP