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?

35 comments:

Smitty 11:33 AM  

I stayed up til 4:30; 2 of my bills were the last 2 to move. Of COURSE.

I am so angry about all this that I'm irrational.

steves 1:50 PM  

Weapons were already allowed in classrooms if they were carried openly. This only allows people that are willing to get enhanced training to join the other people that could already carry in those places, including PI's, retired cops and judges, and prison guards.

As the horrible tragedy unfolds in CT., it is clear that a "no weapons" law or rule does absolutely nothing to stop a deranged psychopath. I have trouble understanding how people believe that children are protected by these laws.

Bob 2:16 PM  

Because I don't want a dumbass - legal or not - carrying a gun in my kids school. As we know people are more likely shot due to a stupid accident than a deranged individual.

steves 2:54 PM  

How many people are accidentally shot by a concealed carrier? Gun accidents are very rare. A few states allow lawful carry in schools and don't seem to have a problem.

Jay 3:50 PM  
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Jay 3:53 PM  
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Bob 4:33 PM  
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Bob 4:33 PM  

Fine, let some bubba run around with your kids with a gun in his pocket. You really think that is smart?

steves 6:22 PM  

It is not the permit holders that scare me. My kids go to the mall, Meijers, the park, Ikea, McDonalds, and all sorts of other places that presumably have people carrying guns. Schools aren't some place that somehow cause people's guns to spontaneously go off.

Jay 11:48 PM  

Steve: none of those others are places where people routinely send their kids, at as young an age as 5, into the care of others. For me, that makes it different. You may disagree, but I would be very surprised if my view is the minority view among parents.

steves 2:40 PM  

Jay, I know my view is probably in the minority. The sad thing is that almost every spree shooting that has taken place in the last two decades has occurred in 'gun free zones'. These rules aren't working.

Jay 2:54 PM  
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Jay 3:12 PM  

Dammit. I keep trying to post something, but honestly I am so angry about this that I have trouble writing anything that is not an attack on anyone who thinks owning guns is a good idea on any level. Which is not a productive way to discuss anything. Hence all the deleted posts.

Maybe short phrases will be better:

* yes, gun-free zones do little to stop these kinds of attacks
* no, I do not find it sad. I find society sad for not doing something real about it.
* I think we differ strongly on what should be done.

I got a phone call last night that made its way through our caller id screening. It was Clean Water Action people wanting money to support their battle against power companies and global warming. I did not contribute, for a variety of reasons. But if it had been someone putting together an effort to systematically eliminate all gun rights in this country and get them the fuck out of our society, I might well have emptied out my bank account for them.

That's where I was last night and still am today to a certain extent (i.e. neither rational, realistic, nor productive...I am just angry).

steves 3:43 PM  

There is a difference between doing something and doing something that actually works. Yes, this makes me mad, too. Criminals aren't going to be deterred by laws. Yesterday, some guy walked into a school in China and managed to stab 22 children.

So, no, I do not think restricting the rights of law abiding citizens is the answer.

Jay 4:43 PM  

Criminals by definition are not deterred by laws. My views have nothing to do with what is currently considered to be criminal behavior. My views concern changing the laws so that eliminating guns from our society would no longer be restricting the rights of law abiding citizens.

So while I understand your viewpoint and accept that you have reality on your side, I do not feel your comments address mine. If you do not wish to address my (admittedly not entirely rational) views, I can understand that too. But I do object to the concept that 22 children being stabbed in China has any relevance to a discussion about guns being too readily available to people who would use them to massacre people in this country.

steves 5:33 PM  

Jay, there are some gun laws that do measurably reduce crime, which is why I have never taken the absolutist, 'from my cold dead hands' position.

My starting point is that 'bearing arms' is a recognized, fundamental civil liberty that the gov't lacks the power to restrict, except under limited circumstances.

I am not trying to ignore your comments. This isn't always the best way to communicate, so it is possible that I don't get your meaning.

The Chinese example was meant to show that even highly restrictive societies have school attacks and that maybe we need to look at what can be done to prevent or deter these actions.

Jay 6:48 PM  

Steve: and I recognize that my absolutist position is neither realistic nor ever likely to be adopted in this country.

But, particularly in the context of events like this, I have a difficult time accepting that bearing arms should be a fundamental civil liberty. To me, a society that accepts as a fundamental right public ownership of a tool whose main purpose is to kill (and that can be readily used to kill indiscriminately if the user so wishes) is a society that is fundamentally flawed.

re: the chinese example

I agree that addressing mental illness/sociopathy and implementing useful plans to deal with psychopaths in public places is important. But I also feel that eliminating the threat of violent behavior from a society is considerably more far-fetched than eliminating (or, to be slightly more realistic, severely limiting) access to firearms.

steves 1:45 PM  

The problem is that until you can eliminate the element of society that kills, it won't matter what the rest of us think.

There are many countries with horrendous murder rates that have completely banned anything but single shot rifles.

Jay 8:01 PM  

I will push back against your first statement because I think there IS a context in which it does matter what the rest of us think, quite a lot. That context (which I tried to express above) is whether a given attempt to murder a lot of people in one place is more or less likely to succeed. I submit that there is no other means (readily available to the public) of killing a lot of people in one place that is less dependent upon user error than a gun. Unless the user has specialized skills, a bomb is as likely to kill the bomb-maker as it is to kill other people. Knives/swords are hardly efficient means of mass murder (see your China example above) without a level of expertise that is not available to most of the population. Explosive airplanes are not easy to come by. Chemical or airborne poisons are difficult to work with and, again, are quite likely to kill the would-be murderer.

In that context, would you agree that eliminating guns from the equation would make these sorts of events less likely?

To attempt to be clear, I am not trying to get you to say "yes, you are right, and now I believe we need more gun control" because I am well aware that mass murder is not the only context in which gun control needs to be considered. But if the goal is to reduce the frequency and number of mass murders, I cannot think of any means of doing so as effective as removing guns from the equation.

What I am trying to express here is the level and direction of my anger. My anger stems from the understanding that if we, as a society, wanted to do away with guns so mass murders were less likely, we would do it. But we clearly don't. The U.K. and Australia did want to do something about it, and they did. Whether it had any effect is not clear from the data, because we are talking about rare events here. But they responded to horrible mass murders with "never again" attitudes. We respond with "this is horrible, but it is part of who we are because guns are a right." And because of that attitude, not even what might otherwise be considered "reasonable" gun control measures are not even discussed.

And that makes me very angry indeed.

Jay 8:46 PM  

I would like to retract the sentence above about the gun control discussion. I do not know enough about the history and debate to say whether reasonable measures have or have not been discussed. I was spewing a talking point I read somewhere else. Sorry about that.

But I think I am prepared to stand by the rest of what I said above, if the discussion continues.

steves 7:56 AM  

Yes. If you completely remove guns from the equation, mass murders by firearms would obviously decrease or disappear completely.

As for other means, swords and knives are something that would require a level of expertise that most people do not have. Bombs are not exceedingly difficult to make.

You are correct that Australia and the UK said never again, but mass killings in both of those places were already exceedingly rare. Australia has only had two since they banned most firearms (one by gun and one by arson). As for the UK, they were also rare (if you remove IRA related bombings there were 3 in the last 100 years), but they had one in 2010. Even prior to the Dunblane killings, weapons were highly regulated and civilian ownership was very low.

Norway and Germany have extremely tight laws regarding weapons and they suffer these kinds of attacks. The attack in Norway killed 77 and injured over 300 in 2011. Both of these places severely limit the type of guns you may own, require training and registration, and very expensive and time consuming.

Despite what the media will perpetuate, mass killings are at the lowest they have been in the last 100 years. IIRC, the peak was in 1929.

It seems to me that unless you can somehow make guns completely disappear, mass killings will still occur. Other countries have tried implementing strict measures, but still have them.

IMO, the focus needs to be elsewhere. Mother Jones looked at mass killings over the last three decades and found that over half had displayed "signs" prior to the killings.

Roger Ebert also had a great article following Columbine where he chastised the media for their coverage:

"The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy."

steves 8:12 AM  

I do want to say that I have appreciated this discussion.

Boing Boing had a good article a few days ago that said the gun debate typically went down the road of tribalism, in that both sides sought out people that thought alike and were mostly unwilling to talk or listen to the "enemy." Ironically, the comments section of that article was filled mostly with posts that proved her point.

I think this is true. I will admit that I have mostly been looking at articles and forums that share my views. Looking at opposing views has been somewhat frustrating and shown that there are many people that do not want to listen to any opposing views.

I am not suggesting that the pro-gun people are any better in that regard. They can be just as stupid and rude.

Bob 8:30 AM  

I the brillianrt collective that is Facebook, I have learned that the shooting was caused by one of about 5 items.

1) Too many guns.
2) Not enough guns
3) Poor mental health treatment
4)God's punishment because of athiests
5) "Gun Culture", video games, media, etc.

steves 9:32 AM  

Bob, I think these kinds of events always bring out people trying to promote their cause. I try and reserve blame and judgment for when I have a better grasp of the facts.

That being said, I can rule out some of the arguments. I am a religious person, but I cringe when I hear about the whole "God on schools" thing.

1. I will instruct my children in religion. School is not the place for this.

2. When was God in schools? I went to school in the 70's and 80's and don't remember anything more than an invocation at graduation. My dad went to school in the 40's and 50's and didn't remember anything.

Video games and movies have been disproven as causal factors many times.

The other thing I keep hearing is medication. We don't even know if he was on medication, but that does't stop the anti-psychiatry people from bringing it up.

Jay 11:05 AM  

Steve: I also appreciate the conversation, even though it is a discussion in which I am struggling to remain reasonably rational (which is very unusual for me and it is not a struggle I am enjoying very much). I have said this before, I believe, but no one has affected my understanding of gun rights in this country more than you have. I don't think my views have changed any, but I believe I understand the conversation better than I did before I started reading this blog. So I concur that hearing from the "other side" is valuable, in pretty much every debate I can imagine.

re: bombs

I believe bombs are nowhere near as simple or as effective as a gun in killing people, particularly if the would-be assailant is not very rational and/or is in a heightened emotional state. So I submit that statement would be equally true if you deleted "by firearms" and "or completely" from it.

re: other countries

I was not commenting upon the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the response. I was commenting upon the difference in attitude. The "never again" attitude is one I can agree to and get behind, even if it is not really possible in the real world. The "this is how it is" attitude is one I cannot. Before this week, that attitude made me sad. Since Friday, it makes me angry. It makes me want to take action. It makes me want to spend money to combat that attitude. If I did not have a family to support who depend upon me, it might well turn me into a radical who would demonstrate against it and participate in protests.

This one is different, for me.

And I strongly suspect I am not alone.

re: the media

I have no objection to this line of reasoning whatsoever. This is one reason (among many) why I never watch TV news on any topic for any reason (with the possible exception of election returns, but even those are reported on the web pages almost simultaneously these days).

steves 11:32 AM  

I agree with never again attitude. I have a kid and a spouse in the public schools. The question becomes how do we do this.

I have never taken the absolutist argument. I lump gun rights in with free speech, search and seizure, due process, etc. All of these are subject to reasonable restriction in the name of safety.

The response to 9/11 was the shitty Patriot Act and to invade two countries. I know this isn't the same thing, but I would like to see a more reasoned response...one that has a chance of working beyond the gov't appearing to "do something."

steves 12:19 PM  

Jay, after a brief glance at FB, some Boards, and a few other blogs, I just want to repeat how much I appreciate this conversation.

Most of the time, the phrase, "We need to have a dialog" = "I have already made up my mind and anyone that doesn't believe exactly what I believe is a fucking lunatic/fascist/racist/bastard."

Then they back up their position with lies, misinformation, or conspiracy bullshit.

Many people seem to be entering this discussion with an irrational hatred of the opposition. Does anyone think that there can be common ground?

Jay 2:17 PM  

Steve, I'm not sure if there is a common ground that would make most of us happy. And I'm almost positive there is no optimal "right" answer. I think talking about it helps. But it is not a lot of fun.

As for irrational hatred...well...guilty. But I tried to keep that at bay in favor of having a more useful discussion (the delete key helped).

It would be nice if we could get back to talking about beer (and you know how I feel about beer).

steves 3:17 PM  

I think we can agree on that.

Smitty 4:58 PM  

I've enjoyed this conversation too, from the outside looking in. Michigan's slew of craptastic last week was depressing, and I was knee-deep in it until 4:30 a.m. Friday.

I was working on my own thoughts on the matter, but you've really both moved it towards where I was heading anyway.

To answer your question - your last one - I agree with Jay. I'm not sure. In all the discussions we've had here at various times on this blog, and in the discussions and "discussions" playing-out all over the interwebz, the sides appear to be "some sort of ban on something" and "more guns." I'm being glib, for sure, but am illustrating that in a million conversations, I have yet to see "trigger locks are fine" or "no more assault weapons" or even "robust mental health check" mentioned by both sides of the debate.

Obama's oft-quoted line - "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom" - seems to be where he is drawing the line. I would take that to mean he's going to look at perhaps some sort of Brady Center initiative.

I, too, share your fear, steve: that our reactions and "solution" will be the 2nd amendment equivalent of invading 2 countries and the Patriot Act. In fact, the Patriot Act example is the very encroachment on our civil liberties that I would fear from a hasty reaction to gun violence.

Maybe I don't mind so much a robust mental health check. Maybe I don't mind some sort of limitation on access for those with certain disabilities (oh, but where to draw that line will certainly draw some "blood," but it'll be the first REAL conversation about mental health we've had in forever) - is OCD OK but Depression not in terms of gun ownership? Maybe, if we just can't bring ourselves to ban assault weapons, they ought to be so expensive and hoop-jumping to get that the desperate, insane, and petty criminal have a hard time obtaining them - a ban by way of economics, if you will. Maybe I don't mind have a ban on high-capacity magazines, despite some research steve has found that that doesn't do anything. And maybe I don't mind at ALL if we civilians can't get body armor.

I damn well DO mind if we insist teachers and school administrators carry guns; even to allow them to carry guns like airline pilots. That's an idea so awful that it borders on actually being parody, and not a real solution. I damn well DO mind legislation like Michigan's SB 59, allowing concealed carry in places formerly off-limits (like schools and sporting events); nothing good comes from running gun battles in crowds.

Some stuff - like human stupidity - we can't avoid. Every year here in the upper-Midwest, a handful of sons or daughters blow their faces off with their dad's whatever. Dad didn't lock his weapon, or didn't check to make sure a round was taken out of the chamber before casing it, or whathaveyou. The penalty for that lackadaisical attitude is your own dead kid (see that article about the dad who accidentally shot and killed his 7-year-old after he put his pistol up on the dashboard). But maybe I don't mind some sort of criminal penalty when your kid takes your guns and shoots up a place. If we are going to insist that legislating a "deterrent" works, then maybe let's follow-through. Deterrents don't work on the criminal, by definition! But they *do* work on us rational folk. And nothing will make me keep the bolt out of my 30-06 in its own locked case, with ammo in a separate locked case, with the keys UP MY ASS, like a criminal penalty attached to my kids using my guns to kill.

Smitty 4:58 PM  

I say all that that I do-don't mind to say this: some folks in DC and maybe in state capitols are going to come up with a lot of ideas. But so far, those conversations have been: How about A? No. B? No. C? No.

And those same folks say "no" when the question is "maybe how about mental health parity? Or funding for mental health screenings?" No.

steves 7:57 AM  

I was thinking of doing a new entry to discuss what steps could/should be taken, but maybe it would be better to wait and see what ideas come from DC. The only thing I have heard is from Dianne Feinstein and it is the same thing that she introduces every Session.

Smitty, you raise some good points. I think almost everyone agrees that "crazy people" shouldn't have access to firearms. There are already federal and state laws saying this. I think it becomes difficult when we try and figure out where to draw the line.

The federal law is fairly narrow and only includes people that have been found NGRI and adjudicated defective (had a guardian appointed) and people that have been involuntarily admitted. This isn't too bad, but the concern among some advocacy groups for the mentally ill is that we need to be wary of restricting the rights of the mentally ill.

I know a few people with mild mental illnesses, with no history of violence, that are concerned that they will lumped in with the illnesses that exclude them from firearms ownership. I talked to a few vets last week about PTSD and firearms laws. One of them had been avoiding treatment for several years because he was actively involved in competitions and was worried that he would lose his ability to own firearms.

The other problem is that clinicians don't have the ability to predict the future. It can be difficult to say what their client may do. Personally, I would have a hard time saying, "Mr. Client is safe to own guns."

IMO, any law needs to be flexible enough so that is not a lifetime ban and is limited to people with illnesses related to violence and/or impulse control.

You already know where I stand on mental health services. They are grossly underfunded. There needs to be more residential services and there needs to be parity in coverage.

As for assault weapons bans and magazine bans, you already know where I stand, so there is no point in bringing it up again. I don't think body armor was used in this crime. That being said, it is already highly regulated and very expensive.

As for teachers and administrators having firearms, I am going to respectfully disagree. First of all, I don't think they should be made to be armed. No one anywhere should. They should have the option, but I think it should be up to the individual districts. Unfortunately, this is likely a moot point. Most employers, private and public, based on boiler plate HR language, don't allow it.

As for changing the state law regarding gun free zones, I do support that. I know you are concerned about gun battles in crowds, but after 30 some years of shall issue concealed carry laws, this just hasn't happened. Unlike the police, who have immunity from civil liability, CPL holders know that they will be sued into oblivion if they miss. The shooting in Clackamas is a good example of this. A citizen drew his gun and pointed it at the shooter, but did not shoot because he saw a person behind him.

There are criminal and civil liabilities if your gun is taken and used in a crime.

Bob 3:31 PM  

According to the bill's sponsor Gov. Snyder is about to veto SB59.

His ass was about to be grass if he signed it.

steves 7:05 PM  

Since when does Snyder give a shit what the voters think. He just cemented his single term. The unions will lay into him in the next election and gun owners have a long memory.

Bob 7:41 PM  

Point taken steve. That said, I would be more scared of the mom swing voters than union guys.

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