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View Diary: Elizabeth Warren shows common sense, courage on assault weapons ban (113 comments)

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  •  Did you realize... (4+ / 0-)

    ...that those "common sense" items about who should not be able to own a firearm are already the law?

    Persons prohibited from possessing a firearm by NICS (the link is to the Wiki, but it is accurate):

    Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
        Is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
        Is a fugitive from justice
        Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance
        Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution
        Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States
        Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
        Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship
        Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner
        Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
    That being the case, what's the point of the Brady Campaign's statement of purpose -- it's already been done.

    Well, I'll grant that there is no specific mention of "terrorist," but one would assume that would fall under one of the other criteria.

    Yes, I often dress as a pirate. Your point?

    by theatre goon on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 04:20:01 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Then how did Holmes get his weapons? (0+ / 0-)

      Has he avoided being committed or being adjudicated? Do we need to tighten that standard of the law? Should we instead require that anyone diagnosed as mentally ill be put on a type of "no fly list"? And how do we keep private sellers from selling to the mentally ill? How do we keep any of the people listed above from buying weapons without a way of tracking buyers and sellers? Do we expect the mentally ill and the criminal to work on some sort of honor system? And how do we keep people who are legally barred from buy weapons from buying weapons on the internet?

      These are serious questions and I would like to hear from some pro-gun advocates on addressing these problems.

      •  Good question. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Otteray Scribe, oldpunk, 43north

        As far as I know, at this point, he would not have been a prohibited person -- though there has been some recent talk about him having been in psychiatric treatment.

        Basically, I'm not sure we have the information available, at this point, to declare whether or not he legally bought his firearms (though I could easily be wrong on this, if there is new info that I've missed) -- though his explosives were almost certainly illegal.

        Personally, I think that the NICS background check system needs to be strengthened -- states should be required to keep that information up to date (currently, many of them do not), and there should be repercussions if someone who knows they are a prohibited possessor tries and fails a background check.

        Actually, let me back up a bit, and respond to some of your questions specifically.

        Should we instead require that anyone diagnosed as mentally ill be put on a type of "no fly list"?
        Currently, anyone adjudicated mentally ill by a court of law is a prohibited person and is meant to be in the database.  For this to be the case, the courts must so declare -- medical privacy laws prohibit other disclosures.  I'm honestly unsure how to handle that -- privacy vs safety is a whole other discussion.
        And how do we keep private sellers from selling to the mentally ill?
        It is against the law to do so -- but you are correct, those who ignore the law will not follow that law.  Personally, I suggest stronger enforcement of the laws we already have.  How do we prevent anyone from breaking the law?  
        How do we keep any of the people listed above from buying weapons without a way of tracking buyers and sellers?
        We already do track licensed sellers, and they must perform the background check for each buyer.  "Tracking" those buyers becomes another privacy issue.  Is it law enforcement's business how many and what firearms I own, as long as I do so legally?  I think not -- you may well disagree with that.
        And how do we keep people who are legally barred from buy weapons from buying weapons on the internet?
        Anyone buying a firearm on the Internet must still abide by all other laws -- NICS check if from a licensed dealer (or across state lines) and it is unlawful for a private seller to sell to someone who they have reason to believe is a prohibited possessor.

        Criminals are not going to obey any of these laws -- if they would, they would not be criminals.  That being the case, they won't follow new laws, either, so our only option is to punish those who do break the law.  Again, stronger law-enforcement would seem to be in order, in my opinion, rather than new, redundant ones that will also not be enforced.

        Hope some of those answers are helpful -- I'll check back in for any responses, but it's already ninety degrees at nine a.m.  Please don't expect much from me today -- my brain is largely already cooked.

        Yes, I often dress as a pirate. Your point?

        by theatre goon on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 07:11:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But I am in a prohibitted class. And there is no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          way to keep me from legally buying a gun. And by prohibited I mean that I suffer from a mental illness. Depression to be specific. But I have never been sent against my will to the hospital. I have been in the hospital four times but always on a voluntary basis. I do not show up on any list prohibiting me from buying a gun. Should I be on such a list. I would tend to say yes.

          If we track weapons to keep them out of the hands of the unstable then registration of guns does become a matter for law enforcement. Just like cars. I do not have a weapon because I choose not to have a weapon. Should I, as a mentally ill person, be allowed that choice? I can easily get a concealed weapons permit because I have never been convicted of a crime and show up on no ones list. Shouldn't I be on a list? Or should you just trust my judgment as a mentally ill person?

          And are private sellers compelled by anything other than the honor system to follow gun laws?

          Thank you for your reasoned response.

          •  Whether or not... (4+ / 0-)

            ...clinical depression should be on the prohibited person list is, honestly, a whole other discussion.  In all honesty, I'm not knowledgeable enough to make an informed decision on that, specifically.

            In my opinion only, those who have been adjudicated to be a risk to themselves or others should be on the prohibited persons list.  I do realize that this leaves off people who may well should not be allowed to own a firearm simply because they have no been so adjudicated, but that is where we get into that other discussion -- rights, privacy, and security.

            Again, my opinion, but no one who has not committed a crime should not have their rights curtailed because they might, someday commit a crime.  It's like saying no one can own spray paint because they might, sometime, commit vandalism with it.

            If you want to go down that road, then there's not much that would still be allowed -- any right can be abused, and any activity can go too far.  Do we punish everyone for the actions of a very few?  Do we abolish all rights because some few people may abuse them?

            There is a trade-off between security and freedom -- exactly where that line is to be drawn is where the discussions (and, all too often, the fights) come in.

            These are, of course, somewhat subjective points on both sides -- we have differing opinions on what should or should not be allowed.

            For this, more specific question:

            And are private sellers compelled by anything other than the honor system to follow gun laws?
            Yes -- depending on specifics, providing a firearm to a prohibited possessor can be anything from a misdemeanor to a felony offense.  From what I understand, it varies by state, by exactly why the prohibited possessor is so prohibited, etc.

            This is why, were I to decide to sell a firearm to anyone other than a family-member or one of the very few people I happen to know the medical and legal history of, I would do so through a licensed dealer who can perform the NICS check -- it seems the most responsible way to do so.

            But, that does bring us back to the point that criminals will continue to break the law -- all we can really do is punish them when they have been caught doing so.  It is basically not possible to prevent all crimes, so we have to punish those who do so after the fact.

            I do hope that rather lengthy and, probably rambling, reply made some sense.  As I pointed out earlier, it's just too bloody hot today to expect me to not make a mistake here and there, or even lose my own thread of thought.

            Yes, I often dress as a pirate. Your point?

            by theatre goon on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 08:13:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Trust me, if you have depression you should (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              not be allowed near guns. When you are depressed your thinking is irrational. If you are in a lengthy depressed episode it gets worse. Many people who suffer from forms of depression like clinical depression and bipolar disease find it difficult to stay on meds. Even with insurance. Some people go off meds because they convince themselves that the meds are not needed or that the side effects are not worth it or because the meds are harmful. This is a problem even for people who have good health care so health care reform will not solve this problem.

              You should do some research into mental illness as it relates to violence, and not just gun violence. People like Holmes were under the radar. No therapist or shrink is required to report mentally ill or unstable people to any agency without first being convinced of immediate danger to self or others. And no one is required to seek medical help for a mental illness. And if you are not an immediate danger to self or others you appear on no-one's radar. Twelve people might be alive today if mandatory reporting were the law. But there is nothing we can do about that now, for them.

              Yes criminals will continue to break the law, but why make it easier for them? Do we just give up and arm everyone? We could just get rid of the criminal justice let everyone settle it man to man.

              •  Now you're taking my argument further... (5+ / 0-)

                ...than I actually did -- if only rhetorically.

                Do we just give up and arm everyone? We could just get rid of the criminal justice let everyone settle it man to man.
                I, of course, said nothing of the sort -- and I have never seen anyone seriously put forth any such suggestion, even the dreaded NRA has said nothing of the sort (the NRA deserves much criticism, but we should limit it to what they've actually done or said).

                The problem is, as I mentioned before, finding that fine line between freedom and safety.  

                Yes, on one extreme one could argue that it would be safer if no one was allowed weapons of any sort -- but we would be less free.  (As a bit of an aside, I maintain that we would not necessarily be safer, because that would put us at the mercy of armed criminals, or criminals in groups, etc.)

                On the other extreme, we would be much freer in this one regard if there were no limits on weapons whatsoever -- but we would be much less safe.

                Clearly, the answer is somewhere between the two extremes -- it, almost by definition, always is.  The discussion is where on that continuum is best.

                We are never guaranteed safety -- it is impossible to do so.  And, since we know that many millions of firearm owners have never and will never commit any sort of crime with those firearms (the vast majority of said owners, in fact), I do not subscribe to the idea that the best way to provide safety is by limiting their rights.

                We should prosecute those who actually commit crimes rather than limiting the rights of those who don't.  Yes, criminals will continue to break the law -- and we will continue to prosecute and punish them for doing so.  Should we do the same to those who do not break the law?  I think not.

                When someone shows that they cannot be responsible with a weapon (or, along those same lines, exercising any of their rights), then, and only then, should we limit or restrict those rights.

                There is still room for reasonable controls -- and I believe that most of the controls we have now are pretty reasonable, particularly the criteria in the NICS system (though it can and should be strengthened -- a stance that even the NRA agrees with).  I'm also fairly comfortable with our current restrictions on what firearms may be owned (true automatic firearms, for instance, are so tightly controlled and artificially expensive that they are, for the vast majority of people, for all intents and purposes, banned).

                There are many other suggestions of things that could be proposed to help curb violence -- the problem is, most of them we see proposed here about guns have been tried and have shown no such effect on violence (the so-called "assault weapons ban," for example) or would infringe upon other rights (the $500 bullet example would restrict this right only to the very wealthy and therefore be discriminatory).

                I would much prefer to focus on the causes of crime, rather than the tool used -- poverty, the wholly failed "war on drugs," and our rapidly failing social safety nets, for instance.

                These are my opinions, of course, I am not making these statements as though everyone must agree with me.

                And, yes, I did not respond directly to your comments regarding mental health because I am no more informed about them that I was before -- and am still inclined to hold my original opinion on the issue at this point.

                I'll be away from my computer for some time, so I might not be able to get to any response to this for a while -- but I will try to do so.  

                I do think we both deserve a pat on the back, though -- we clearly disagree strongly, but have managed to keep the discussion civil.


                Yes, I often dress as a pirate. Your point?

                by theatre goon on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 01:07:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Are we not entitled to do everything we can do (0+ / 0-)

                  to keep people safe. Can you please explain to me the difference between your point of view and the NRA? Are you a NRA member. What is your attitude towards the NRA?

                  My reference to arming everyone was a question of if we are not going to try and stop crime then why not close down the police and the jails. Then are arguments could be settled Old West Style.

                  •  There's always a limit. (5+ / 0-)

                    The idea of doing everything we can for safety -- including giving up our Civil Rights -- is what got us the PATRIOT Act.

                    That is generally considered a bad thing when it comes to Liberals and Progressives, is it not?  Or is that just when it comes to those other Civil Rights?

                    As Benjamin Franklin famously said:  "Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security."

                    What other rights would you be willing to give up in the name of safety?  Allow police officers to search anyone at any time, with no probable cause?  That would help prevent crime, would it not?  Personally, I would oppose something like that every bit as strenuously as I do pointless restrictions on this one.

                    How about doing away with the right to freely assemble or protest?  That has recently been severely curtailed, often with the excuse of security.  That was roundly criticized here.  How is that different?  In my opinion, it is not.

                    No, I am not a member of the NRA.  I was given a membership by my uncle when I was very young -- it expired and I never renewed it.

                    One of the largest differences between my views and that of the NRA as an organization is that they are willing to lie to achieve their ends -- and, in some instances, they oppose gun-control laws that I may well support.  Some of the things they oppose I also oppose.

                    The NRA-ILA has become more a lobbying organization for firearms manufacturers than for firearm owners, in my opinion.  I believe that they have largely stopped supporting the right itself and, rather, promote sales.

                    And, again, at no time have I said anything about not trying to stop crime -- only that we should not do so at the cost of our Civil Rights.

                    Again, punish those who commit crimes (and thereby try to prevent them from committing more crimes in the future) rather than restricting the rights of those who have never committed any crime.

                    The vast majority of those who use guns in crimes have long histories of criminal behavior -- which means they can and should be prevented from committing more crimes.

                    I probably won't catch any responses before morning, I'll be turning in soon -- but I will check first thing.

                    Yes, I often dress as a pirate. Your point?

                    by theatre goon on Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 07:13:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  kmackle: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ER Doc
                    Are we not entitled to do everything we can do
                    to keep people safe
                    As cited by TG, the PATRIOT Act was "for our own good".
                    As a result, we lost "reasonable suspicion" and court issued warrants that were held to a standard, not issued like a pack of Post-Its.

                    As a result, law enforcement can break-and-enter any home, business or vehicle, and search any personal property such as a briefcase or backpack - looking for evidence that will result in a Post-It Note® warrant.

                    "Yep!  Found it.  An unfilled prescription for anti-depressants, and a box of 9mm ammunition.  

                    We'll wait until kmackle comes home, then we'll kick the door at 5AM, and take him at submachinegun point... as he's presumed armed, dangerous, and likely a threat to himself and others."

                    The fact that you, have an unfilled prescription?  

                    May be that you needed to remind the prescribing physician that Wellbutrin® is contra-indicated with your history of hypertension - and you received a different script.

                    At 5AM with the door laying on the floor, and you reaching towards the night table for eyeglasses?

                    GUN!!!!  bangbangbangbangbangbangbang.
                    All over an unfilled prescription as presumptive evidence, brought about by a "sneak-and-peek" warrant, made legal by the PATRIOT Act, "for our own good".

                    Where does this end?

                    •  The Patriot Act was not intended to keep Americans (0+ / 0-)

                      safe. It was intended to allow the government to spy on us. But the Patriot Act did nothing about guns. The Act curtailed much of the Bill of Rights. But it did not impact gun rights. The Patriot Act needs to go away now. But that has nothing to do with being safe from gun violence. Guns did not play a role in the past terrorist attacks. So I get your point but I do not think it applies.

                      We want to be safe from gun violence. We do not want to be victims of a mass murder. But we do not need to throw out the constitution in order to make us safer. Just do a better job of tracking and regulating gun sales and possession. More reporting of mental health patients. If there is legal justification for a no fly list then why can't we have a no buy list? If I can only by Sudafed once a month why can we not extend that to ammunition sales?

        •  Great comment TG. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theatre goon, 43north, ER Doc

          You inspired me to add my two cents to one of your questions.

          How do we prevent anyone from breaking the law?  
          The thing about laws is that they don't, can't and I don't believe are intended to prevent crime because we cannot prevent people from breaking the law short of locking them up before they break the law. The only thing criminal laws do is tell people what the consequences can be if someone is arrested, prosecuted and convicted of violating a particular law.

          If we want to encourage people not to break the law then the consequences of doing so have to be so severe, so exceedingly unpleasant that anyone in their right mind wouldn't be willing to expose themselves to the potential risk of being caught. Of course this only works on people who are not inclined to break the law anyway and it wouldn't have any affect on the kind of people who commit mass murder.

          Thanks for posing the question.

          By the Collision of different Sentiments, Sparks of Truth are struck out, and political Light is obtained. - Benjamin Franklin

          by oldpunk on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:32:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm going to disagree, but only slightly. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            oldpunk, 43north, ER Doc

            And, only on one specific point:

            The thing about laws is that they don't, can't and I don't believe are intended to prevent crime...
            I believe that laws are, to a certain degree, meant to deter crime.  There are those who will not commit a crime because they do not want to fact the punishment.

            There are others, however, who will not be deterred by any punishment, as we see when people commit crimes, even in the face of truly draconian laws.

            I know you touch on this later in your comment, so my disagreement is strictly and only on that one narrow point, and that really only on the way you worded it -- apart from that, agreed completely.

            Yes, I often dress as a pirate. Your point?

            by theatre goon on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:37:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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