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?


Streak 6:11 PM  

I understand that part of the problem with the assault weapon ban was definitional and it seemed that they decided to ban guns that looked scary. I also read that they named specific elements that gun manufacturers just omitted or changed enough to elude the law.

But isn't there a public good in eliminating guns that can shoot a lot of bullets in a very short amount of time? Isn't it worth pushing those manufacturers to stop pushing these guns to gun shows and civilians who certainly don't need them for self-defense?

steves 7:21 AM  

Good question. As you point out, this was done before and it has been done in many other countries. I am sure this is being considered.

Smitty 9:21 AM  

I suggested some a post or two ago, but I'll give it another whirl, with a few new items:

1) Your homeowner's insurance goes up when you install a swimming pool. I suggest the same for owning weapons. If, of course, a gun accident happens and you never claimed to have guns...it's null and void time.

2) Perhaps a special gun insurance; not only weapon replacement if it breaks, but in case it blows someone's face off.

3) Current MI law requires a gun owner to report a stolen gun within 5 days or face a $500 fine. Make that a national law (currently like 5 or 6 states have this on the books), and jack the fine way up. Like Misdemeanor-high. Minnesota is or was looking at doing just that.

4) Michigan, according to the Prosecuting Attorneys Association, prosecutes "straw purchasers" using criminal penalties on gun buyers who either fail to register their stock or sell their stock without registration. Do we have something like this nationally?

5) I know you hate it...but high-capacity magazines should go away.

6a) I don't know how to handle assault weapons. Let me re-state that: I know how to handle assault weapons; I did it for 8 years in the Marines. But I don't know how to handle them statutorily. As much as I want to say "ban," we see how well bans have worked with alcohol and drugs. Perhaps something that takes the "oomph" out of them. There's only so fast you can fire a pump- or bolt-action; you yourself are cycling it. Max rounds? Small magazines? Disable the gas tube/regulator so you have to manually cycle it?

6b) Better, really, is price control. The AR-15 Bushmaster is the most popular assault rifle sold in the U.S., thanks in part to Walmart's Everyday Low Prices. There's a reason very few people own a Mercedes-Benz G63. It's perfect for what it does in every way, and is a gazillion dollars. So, too, are assault weapons: perfect in every way at what they are designed to do. Perhaps some good ol' socialist price controls on assault weapons will help remove some of that from the market, or at least limit availability to the stupidly wealthy or criminally desperate.

There's some ideas. I'll await Steve's utter and complete dismissal :)

steves 10:22 AM  

1. Makes sense. I am sure insurance companies could figure out the best way to do this. It would probably require some actuary type stuff.

2. Same as 1.

3. I think states should do this. I don't think feds have the authority. They already require it for FFLs.

4. Interesting. The straw purchase laws are national laws and the BATFE does aggressively go after these people. The state, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a corresponding law. They will prosecute people for not registering, but they do not police dealers and sales.

5. You know what I think. Would you support a law that took something away or required you to do something that had no measurable effect on crime or safety?

6. The problem with price schemes is that they have a disproportionate effect on the poor. If we are ok with people having them, should the only people that have them be rich. Even with Wal Mart prices, an AR is still twice as much as a bolt action or lever action. You are right that criminals will have no problem. Their prices probably won't change at all.

As for semi autos, let me ask you this question. What did they teach you in the Marines? When you used your M-16, were you supposed to fire as fast as you could?

This is kind of a stupid hypo, but would you rather have some guy "spraying and praying" with a semi auto shooting at you or some guy aiming and shooting a lever action or pump...both of which can be fired pretty quickly?

There have been some studies done by criminologists that have looked at the rise in civilian ownership of semi autos and they seem to conclude that they are not any more lethal (in a crime victim sense).

I hope I don't come off as being too dismissive.

Smitty 10:43 AM  

I hope I don't come off as being too dismissive.

Not at all! I only said that to bust-on our perceptions of how gun conversations go.

I don't mind the insurance stuff, and is something I kibbitzed a bit about yesterday with a trial lawyer and an insurance lobbyist. We know, as a society, that criminal laws have little or no "deterrent effect." But you know what does: getting sued, and someone's pocketbook. Nothing snaps someone to attention like the prospect of getting sued and paying insurance claims out the ass. And I don't mind some criminality or hefty fine behind not reporting a lost or stolen gun. I'm glad we're (you and I) in the ballpark on those.

As for #5: reloading is a key opportunity. Recall, if you will, the lovely and unbeaten M1 Garand. What happens when you fire the 8th an final round of the magazine? It goes "PING!" Near the end of WWII, Germans figured out to keep their heads down and listen for the PING. Then, the knew the American was reloading so they could then finally sit up and return fire. Moral of the story: make people reload.

6 was just a thought. I see the problems with it right away, but am bending my brain trying to get at what I see a root problem: a market absolutely flooded with guns. They're everywhere. How do you reduce availability? The flip-side to that is, of course, WHY would you do so? I don't know. Seems like a place to shed some thought molecules. More later.

What did they teach you in the Marines? When you used your M-16, were you supposed to fire as fast as you could?

Yes and no. Well-aimed shots on semi-auto were the normal order of the day. But there are occasions where "wall of lead" is appropriate. Honestly, spray-and-pray is way more fear-inducing. Ricochet, shrapnel, and random bullet patterns are a thousand times worse than a guy taking a moment to take aim, and the fact that the cycle on an assault rife is nearly instant, whereas at least when you have a bolt or lever action, you 1) have to cycle it yourself; and 2) have only 5 or 6 rounds at your disposal. Combat is a game of moments; hence: PING!

steves 10:54 AM  

Smitty, I talked to a few WWII vets who said that was a myth. Actually they said something more colorful, but I was never able to confirm the story.

I think there are already severe civil penalties in place to deter people from being careless. Federal law requires dealers to inform every purchaser of the possible penalties if someone gets a hold of one of their guns. I have an FFL, so I can tell you that the BATFE agent that goes over everything also tells you that you better be careful.

Personally, I think the gov't needs to figure out what mental illnesses disqualify ownership and get these into the database.

Streak 10:59 AM  

Couple of questions. If certain guns are illegal, wouldn't that drive the price up? Second, if guns are more expensive at Wallmart and harder to get for the poor, is that such a bad thing? I am not advocating targeting poor people, but this isn't something they need--no one "needs" a Bushmaster. As Smitty points out, the Mercedes is ridiculously expensive, but we don't talk about the poor needing to be able to afford one. If personal protection is the issue, isn't a Ford just as good?

And I don't understand why reducing or limiting access to high capacity mags is not a good idea. Same, I would say, for certain types of ammo?

steves 11:14 AM  

I think it drives the prices up for somethings, but illegal guns are not that much more expensive. The demand is mostly limited to criminals.

Sammy,  11:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Smitty 11:33 AM  

I talked to a few WWII vets who said that was a myth

It's a cute story, for sure, but true or not, it illustrates an important point: the lull in fire when the enemy reloads. We are trained to listen for that. When does the enemies ROF slacken? And how do we not appear to slacken ours, despite several of us having to reload at once?

Streak 12:01 PM  

I understand the difficulty of defining assault weapons, but there is still that broader question of why people need a Bushmaster or its ilk?

steves 12:16 PM  

I think that is a fair question, but, IMO, the burden should not be on the people to prove a need, but on the state to prove a need for the restriction.

There are many things that we do not need that are harmful to society, but we tolerate to some degree. I think there needs to be some level of connection to safety. We have no right to drive a certain speed, but speed limits are still based on engineering studies and based upon what is safe for that type of road, population density, and traffic level.

As for why they need them, I can't speak to that. I really don't know, though I would expect they are more effective at what they are designed for.

steves 12:20 PM  

I don't know who Sammy is, but I removed his comment, as it seemed to be trolling.

For those that may have not gotten to it in time, it involved guns as a phallic symbol...or something.

Streak 1:17 PM  

And not to be too much of a butt here, but these particular weapons are designed to kill humans.

steves 2:03 PM  

I agree. No point in sugar coating it.

Smitty 2:38 PM  

Ya, I thought about deleting the Sammy comment too. Glad you did it. You only get to do snark if we know you.

Assault weapons are really good at killing. Lower, slimmer ballistic trajectory, firing mechanisms that favor speed, accurate, good sights, etc. As Steve mentioned, the .30-06 I fire now WAS in its day the best assault weapon available. Now? .223 longrifle assault weapons.

Streak 2:50 PM  

Then, and I really don't mean this to be annoying, I am not sure why we have such trouble regulating these things. I have asked this before, but the 2nd amendment has that caveat of "well regulated militia" that never seems to be invoked. Nothing about that tell me that it is some "God given right" to own destructive guns just because you want them. We already limit fully automatic weapons, right? Why is it ok to regulate those, but not these?

steves 3:12 PM  

I think they can be regulated, if need be. Should we be considering a ban on a gun that owned by millions and only used in less than 1% of crimes?

Streak 3:16 PM  

Seriously. Why do we ban full auto?

Bob 4:08 PM  

"Should we be considering a ban on a gun that owned by millions and only used in less than 1% of crimes?"

That is treading very close to saying that 20 kid's deaths are simply the cost of freedom.

I haven't had much time to invest properly in this conversation, but I will say is that it seems that "assault weapons" (for lack of a better term) aren’t good for much of anything.

They aren’t likely the best home defense gun. They are not a great gun for hunting. They aren’t the best weapon for personal “protection”.

They seem to be good for two items:
1) Fighting off the tyrannical government (in theory)
2) Hobbyists

Since a well-trained unit of the American military will quickly take out the average guy with a gun like this, reason #1 above is moot. All that is left is hobbyist use. 20 dead kids aren’t worth anyone’s hobby.

Maybe 10 kids would have still been killed if he had a less capable weapon, maybe none, maybe 19. I don’t think we know what finally stopped the dude and prompted his final suicide, but I am betting less kids would be dead if he had brought in a less powerful hunting rifle with lower capacity.

steves 6:51 PM  

Full autos aren't banned, they just require a shit-ton of paperwork and special tax stamp. There are millions in circulation.

Many people use AR type guns for home defense. Many use them for hunting. Heck, even Remington makes one. I agree that they aren't good for concealed carry.

In reality, shotguns are way more dangerous than assault rifles and kill way more men, women, and children. The reason they aren't discussed is that way more people have them.

Streak 7:23 PM  

No argument on shotguns, though there is a clear justification for hunting there. As far as I know, sawed-offs are not legal? (I certainly could be wrong there) and don't some states mandate that the shotguns only hold a certain number of shells?

I didn't realize that you could own an automatic. Thanks for that info. But my question still stands. What justification is there that Joe the Plumber can't go down to Walmart and buy a fully automatic weapon? (I ask because I know you are reasonable on this. I am pretty confident that some of my conservative gun owning friends would simply say that autos should be available. As should rocket launchers.)

Bob 8:28 AM  

The problem I have with an AR-type weapon (or any rifle for that matter) being used for home defense is that it will pass through every wall of your house and maybe your neighbor's as well.

A shotgun full of buck shot A) won't likely miss and B) will less likely kill the neighbor's kid sleeping in their crib next door. At least that is the way my dad looked at it.

Correct me if I am wrong here.

Bob 8:30 AM  

And anyone who thinks they need more than 2 rounds to hunt, is just a shitty hunter.

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