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Some requests for information. After Aurora last week, I hovered on a lot of diaries here, but I didn't really see what I was looking for, so I wanted to ask for this information directly. I am someone who has an active dislike for recreational and civilian gun usage, but I also feel like I'm not really adequately equipped to discuss the issue in depth.

• Assault Weapons as often defined politically are semi-automatic weapons that have a specific appearance. How are they defined? Is there a criteria in the laws which specifies them, or is a catalog maintained where each gun is individually categorized as applicable under an assault weapons ban or not?

Partially answered: The weapons were banned individually, which allowed copycats to arise that partially hindered the effectiveness of the ban. (Source)
Suggestion: A renewed law should probably work on a catalog that follows a set of guidelines and someone (the ATF?) actually assigns whether the weapon is classified assault or not.
• I'm given to understand that these are not much different in effective potency in comparison to semi-automatic hunting weapons. Is that correct?
• Is there any evidence to suggest that people will commit fewer crimes with a hunting weapon compared to an assault weapon, if the above is correct? In discussing the issue with my dad, he went at it from the viewpoint that assault weapons are more glamorous and attractive and that this can't be discounted when we're dealing with regulating a culture issue. I'm aware that the grandfather clause for the previous AWB essentially rendered toothless.
Not actually sure it was rendered toothless at all. Are there any conflicting studies to this one? (On Target (2004))

Relevant Quote: "The study also explained that ATF data showed that
crime gun traces of assault weapons dropped 20% in the year following enactment of the Assault Weapons Act, from 4,077 assault weapon traces in 1994 to 3,268
in 1995. This 20% drop in assault weapon traces was double the 10% overall decline in the gun murder rate that year, suggesting that, at least in the short-term, the ban reduced the use of assault weapons in crime. Moreover, murder rates dropped 6.7% below what the rates were projected to be without the ban, once researchers isolated the impact of the Assault Weapons Act by accounting for other factors such as murder trends, demographic and economic changes, a federal juvenile handgun possession ban, and state initiatives."

• What are the arguments for and against allowing civilian ownership of semi-automatic weapons at all?
• Are there any effective remedies for regulating the gun show loophole? I was thinking about maybe requiring gun owners to come in once a year and re-register their guns, which is part of how we can regulate private sales of cars.

I'm really interested in scientific studies, especially those not linked to the NRA.

What I am not looking for information on:
Guns as Self-Defense: I haven't seen anyone here sell that, so I'm going to assume that no one worth listening to really believes that putting guns in everyone's hands is a good idea rather than a terrible one.
Alternate Solutions for Gun Violence: Do we have a culture that's overly cowboy? Yes. Do we need better mental health support? Yes. Do we need to reduce poverty? Yes. etc etc etc. I haven't seen anyone worth listening to disagree on these points either.

I'm just looking for information and studies (especially studies) about gun control/gun banning. Thank you very much!

6:35 AM PT: Added answer to a question or two. Also altered one of my conceptions - looks like the Assault Weapons Ban actually does have room to be effective, but it needs to be better implemented? Any conflicting studies?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Banning is not the solution; just look at how (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ConfusedSkyes, FG

    successful Prohibition was. IMHO sensible regulations like the ones you mention (1-training, 2-licensing, 3-background checks with teeth) are the only way to make things better.

    I am sorry, but I don't know of any studies that prove or disprove that any weapons being banned has (or doesn't have) any effect on gun violence.  Most people - on both sides of the issue - selectively quote statistics that are usually taken out of context or are completely unrelated.

    I'll be curious to see what is brought up and hope that this attempt to talk about this issue does not degenerate into a pie fight as have many that are ever brought up here on Daily KOS.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 05:30:13 AM PDT

    •  Gun Control is rather strict in the UK, right? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scientician, Cory Bantic

      Bans most semi-automatic weapons, I believe?

      I'm not entirely certain that prohibition of the relatively benign recreational substances (alcohol, marijuana) is going to be directly comparable to prohibition of firearms. True, the United States does prize these weapons more than the British Isles ever did, but I don't think anyone casually throws a party after a wedding where they blow up paper targets at the reception hall.

      Thank you for your input. I sent messages to a few of the people I noticed on both sides who conducted themselves informatively and nicely in hopes I'd bring them here. Though unfortunately I forgot more names than not.

    •  prohibition (3+ / 0-)

      There are important differences between guns and alcohol which make one much easier to regulate and restrict than the other.

      You can't make a gun in your bathtub in the basement with some hops and barley.  

      "Prohibition" of TNT, chemical weapons, anthrax and plutonium seem to work pretty well.  

      Finally, the existence of countries (Japan, UK) where it is nigh impossible to legally get a handgun (and very difficult to illegally get one) says that prohibition of guns is not impossible to achieve nor will there necessarily be tremendous secondary ill effects similar to prohibition.  

      Oh, and for what little it's worth, prohibition evidently did reduce overall alcohol consumption significantly.  For all the speakeasies and so forth, making alcohol illegal did make it more difficult to obtain and meant fewer people drank, and those that did, drank less in general.

      I'd still call prohibition a failure for all the other problems with it, but even for something as easy to manufacture illegally as alcohol, it wasn't without some effect.

  •  At the risk of self-aggrandizement, I'll (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ConfusedSkyes, oldpunk

    say that some of your questions about "assault rifles" and their capabilities can be answered in something I wrote earlier here:

    I still don't know how to dress links here, after all this time. But it has stayed reasonable, I think, and no pie fights after 100+ comments. Whew!

    But I'll say that I think it is more sensible to license firearm owners rather than guns themselves, since it is the owner/operator that makes the choice to turn his weapons on his fellow citizens. Behavior and actions are peoples' responsibility, after all...

    •  No risk of self-aggrandizement! (0+ / 0-)

      As for dressing up your hyperlinks: when you press the link button, it's just whatever text you put in the 'Label' line. Thank you, will look at your diary now.

    •  Alright, I've read all of that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cory Bantic

      Seems to me that things like Bump Firing mods are part of the problem - they may cause long-term damage to the gun, but as you point out, that is not going to be much cause for concern with your average spree killer, nor comfort for their victims. Can these possibly be regulated? If not, is it possible to require guns to be harder to modify in this manner?

      •  Bump firing really isn't a "mod"... (4+ / 0-)

        It's an effect of a design decision in some Warsaw Pact firearms. The SKS, in particular.

        Some semiautomatic rifles don't have spring loaded firing pins, instead, they rely on the recoil of the bolt to slide the floating pin back into contact with the hammer.

        If the narrow channel that the firing pin rides in becomes fouled, the pin can be held forward by the dirt, causing the pin to hit the primer on the next round loaded, setting it off.

        Either modifying the gun to make this happen or having it happen by accident is considered manufacturing of an illegal machine gun by the ATF, and is a serious Federal felony. People have been prosecuted for having their SKSs slam-fire because they were dirty, and some have been convicted.

        In other words, this is already illegal, it's hard to see how making it double-super-illegal would do any good.

        Also, the use of automatic weapons in crime is vanishingly rare.


        "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
        "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

        by Leftie Gunner on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:33:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  about gun control/gun banning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    some more information

  •  Harvard (4+ / 0-)

    Has a site where they synopsize much of the peer reviewed literature on guns:

    1. Where there are more guns there is more homicide (literature review).

    Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries.  Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

    Hepburn, Lisa; Hemenway, David. Firearm availability and homicide: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 2004; 9:417-40.

    And Johns Hopkins has a center that treats guns a "public health" problem which is also pretty revealing.
    •  Hmm. (0+ / 0-)

      Maybe I'm not searching with the right terms, but I really expected Hopkins' Legal Center bit to cover the AWB and it does not seem to. Or even semi-automatics.

    •  What you're also failing to mention that the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, oldpunk, VClib

      peer reviewed literature has also found that gun-control advocates have the causal relationship reversed; as evidenced by the fact that the typical victim of a homicide (esp. a gun homicide) is someone either closely associated with, or with a long history of engaging in, criminal enterprise. Similarly, the typical perpetrator has a long history of violent behavior as a precursor to the commission of homicide, a history that could and should be a means for the state to identify likely perpetrators and intervene.

      This suggests that "gun violence" splits the population into two segments: criminals (that is, people engaged in crimes other than homicides with gun) who have a high rate of both commission, and victimhood, from guns; and law-abiding citizens, who own guns at high rates, but are rarely either the perpetrators or victims.

      "Gun" violence (really, all violence) tends to thus break down into chronic and acute forms. The chronic forms tend to relate to a criminal lifestyle at large. The best solutions to this would be economic growth - especially in poor communities - and decriminalization of vice and the dismantling of the organized crime and semi-organized crime that thrive on the black market criminalization creates.

      On the flip side, incidents like Aurora reveal an acute violence component - spree killings, whether random, or workplace, or the like. The demographics of these killers are quite different, and suggest a mental health approach to their solution.

      Gun control mainly targets the law-abiding population for harassing restrictions; this is like the sheep taking a set of pliers to the teeth of the sheepdog, because they figure canid teeth are canid teeth, and if the sheepdog is toothless, they will somehow thus gain protection from the wolf.

      Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

      by Robobagpiper on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 08:08:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And here's a link to chew on from Harvard Journal (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ConfusedSkyes, VClib

        of Law and Public Policy - Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?

        Their answer is, "no". In fact, their findings discount the correlation between gun ownership rates and violence, when large numbers of countries are sampled.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 08:19:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for showing up, Robo. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'll chew on this in a little bit, got stuff I need to get to doing soon.

          •  The link also includes lot of criminological (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            oldpunk, VClib

            data about both the perpetrators and victims of homicide - discounting the standard gun-control line of "it's not the criminals you have to worry about, it's the ordinary gun owner who's the danger to himself and his family!". It's simply not true. A person without a history of violence is extremely unlikely to commit homicide.

            I think we all intuitively know that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of homicide have long violent histories. We sometimes forget that this is true even of domestic abuse homicides - most perps have rap sheets as long as their arm, and distinct from other criminals.

            What's not often mentioned is that the most common victim is also a criminal. The paper cites a study of murderer-victim relationships and finds that the most common is that the murderer and victim are acquainted through prior illegal transactions.

            We need to stop looking at gun homicides as something in and of itself, or even homicide as something in and of itself, but as largely the extreme tail of a distribution of social ills caused by a relatively few number of violent individuals. These individuals have long histories of precursor violence, and that it's possible for the state to recognize these precursor patterns and intervene before it rises to the level of homicide; and that broadly targeting the entire population with gun control will not   strongly impact these individuals.

            We should remember that the ordinary individual has one source stream for weapons - the legal one. This is the stream gun control impacts. Violent criminals, by their very nature, have black market source streams for their weapons the average citizen doesn't. The more successful gun control is, the more it necessarily disarms these people very unlikely to misuse the gun, compared to those highly likely to do so.

            The net result is a situation like Russia, where firearms in non-criminal hands are rare, but the homicide rate is extremely high.

            Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

            by Robobagpiper on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 09:29:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cory Bantic, gramofsam1

          would be careful about citing a paper written by the lawyer who called Sonia Sotomayor "unfit" and "racist."  And he works for the Pacific Research Foundation, a wingnut welfare group in league with ALEC and the other usual suspects.

          All that said, it's unsurprising to read this sort of critique of his Harvard paper:

          The alleged value of handguns as tools for self-defense is a major underpinning of Mr. Kates's argument. In support of this position he cites a number of isolated examples in which handguns were effective in defense against attacks. These graphic examples of individual instances of self-defense are hardly persuasive. For each such example, there are literally thousands of accidental and deliberate homicides and assaults in which a handgun was used against the owner of the rearm, his family, or his friends.
          Yeah, a paper that treats anecdote=data written by a known wingnut isn't likely to be worth anyone's time.

          Oh, and that particular Harvard Journal is also a libertarian/wingnut front:

          The Journal is one of the most widely circulated student-edited law reviews and the nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship
          That last page also mentions their affiliation with the Federalist society.  No, I'm not real encouraged about the level of honest scholarship I'm likely to find if I read that paper in any detail.
          •  Argumenteum ad hominem. (0+ / 0-)

            Can you refute the content?

            Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

            by Robobagpiper on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 10:26:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fine (3+ / 0-)

              First off, they misstate Luxembourg's murder rate by a factor of 10, listing it as over 9 per 100,000 when it is in fact under 1.  They cite Luxembourg's high crime rate several times prominently, this isn't a small error, it practially ruins the whole paper out of the gate.

              They call Russia a "developed" nation and compare it to the US as if that can just be done without huge caveats (and their source on Russian crime stats is some professor they name whom I've never heard of).  They cite numerous other dubious sources like right wing economists who claim each capital punishment deters 19 murders (unadulterated nonsense).  

              Table 1, presumably their strongest evidence, relies on total guns in a given society when of course gun control proponents have long recognized that rifles and shotguns are rarely used in crime and most gun control systems are massively more lenient toward these.   I have no idea how they picked the countries they're using - they claim to have gotten these stats from a Canadian study, but don't list Canada.  They later talk extensively about the UK, but it's not on their table either.   Why not?

              For a "data" heavy paper, there's actually very little data provided.  Table 2 doesn't appear until page 16.

              Nor are there figures provided for claims about Britain's rising crime rate, and a host of other claims which are merely footnoted and I'd apparently have to go to the library and look up dozens of sources to check these things.

              It reeks of cherry picking as does the extensive focus on ex Soviet states, treating corrupt kleptocratic dictatorships like Belarus as peer industrialized democracies to the US and Sweden.  

              In short, it's a pile of crap, typical of all wingnut literature and you should be ashamed of posting it as if it was respectable research.  There's a reason they published this in a student run journal that gets to call itself "Harvard" without applying Harvard's actual standards for publication and ranks below the law reviews of schools like Pittsburg and Indiana.  

          •  Gun control advocacy requires very selective (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            use of data - consistently, the only defensive gun uses they allow to be cited ("anecdotes") are those where the weapon is discharged, and the attacker is shot. This is then contrasted with accidental gun deaths, as well as deliberate domestic homicides - though in the latter case, the long record of violence that precedes the domestic homicide is left off to give the impression that just anyone" can snap and kill their family.

            This approach is deliberately (and maliciously) flawed, because it presumes that the primary desired end result of a DGU is to shoot someone.

            However, the average person is not the pathological killer-just-waiting-to-snap that the gun control advocate needs him to be. Recognizing this, one has to recognize that the most successful DGU is this the one where the firearm is never discharged.

            Thus, comparing only DGUs where the attacker is shot to accidental shootings presents a deeply dishonest picture of the utility of a firearm for defense.

            Because self-reporting standards differ from survey to survey, it's quite difficult to get a handle on actual DGU numbers, but they range from the hundreds of thousands to millions annually.

            Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

            by Robobagpiper on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 10:39:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think that critique of his paper (0+ / 0-)

            Is a critique of the specific paper I just read... The one I just read didn't actually have the author come out openly in favor of gun proliferation; though he acknowledged that the data could be read that way, he noted that it could have been confounded by a lot of outside issues. It also focused on aggregates, not anecdote.

            My biggest issue with the Harvard paper is that he plays up the Soviet Union to a significant degree, but doesn't really emphasize its unique situations due to a completely deteriorating government prior to its dissolution.

            Kates does sound like a wingnut, but statistics is statistics. That doesn't mean I'm totally sold on the argument yet, I certainly don't have the ability to go through, check each source, and verify it for proper analysis. But I am chewing on it.

            •  I have replied above (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ConfusedSkyes, gramofsam1

              With some of the many glaring flaws in that paper.  You're right, the thing I linked to was actually a reply to some of Kates' earlier dishonest and shoddy work.

              I certainly don't have the ability to go through, check each source, and verify it for proper analysis. But I am chewing on it.
              That, is why we laypeople have to lean heavily on the credibility of the experts.  People can whine about "ad hominem" but life is short and I don't have time to peer review some professional conservative's 46 pages of cherry picking sophistry to find the tricks.  I know when a magician picks the card I selected, he didn't actually read my mind or do anything superhuman, and similarly when a wingnut attempts scholardom, you can be pretty sure it won't be above board.  The people who spend their careers lying demonstrably about taxes, trade, human rights and the environment don't suddenly become honest academics when it comes to guns.
              •  I understand this point of view. (0+ / 0-)

                Nonetheless, thank you for covering the holes in it; I wouldn't have caught a lot of them. I'm trying to get a grip on the material so I don't embarrass myself, so I really appreciate it.

              •  Inherent bias? (0+ / 0-)

                "pile of crap"
                "cherry picking sophistry"
                "wingut attempts scholardom"
                "people who spend their careers lying"

                Personally, I prefer to just present the evidence and let my reader decide about the character and motivations of the source of the evidence, rather than making the value decisions for them. Otherwise, I might end up sounding like someone saying they did not have the time to present the evidence and just decided to opt for ad hominem attacks.

                Not that I totally disagree with you, by the way. For instance, when I look at some of the climate denier science, I concur with some of your characterizations, but I prefer to come to those conclusions on my own.

      •  Hmm x 2 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm not very reassured by what the evidence says "law abiding" gun owners do with their guns.  More from Harvard's site:

        Most purported self-defense gun uses are gun uses in escalating arguments and are both socially undesirable and illegal

        We analyzed data from two national random-digit-dial surveys conducted under the auspices of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.  Criminal court judges who read the self-reported accounts of the purported self-defense gun use rated a majority as being illegal, even assuming that the respondent had a permit to own and to carry a gun, and that the respondent had described the event honestly from his own perspective.

        Hemenway, David; Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah. Gun use in the United States: Results from two national surveys. Injury Prevention. 2000; 6:263-267.

        People who merely haven't been charged with a crime aren't "law abiding" but that's how they appear in the statistics.  There's also gun suicide, spouse beaters using guns to threaten/scare their partners and a whole host of activity that rarely shows up in crime statistics and yet represents socially deleterious uses of guns.

        The freaking NRA's President's Son is currently in prison for using his legal gun in a road rage incident.  

        This isn't all or even nearly all about hardened career criminals.  Lots of gun problems exist in the so called "law abiding" portion.

  •  Semi-Automatics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ConfusedSkyes, oldpunk
    What are the arguments for and against allowing civilian ownership of semi-automatic weapons at all?
    A semi-automatic is also properly called an auto-loader.  It automatically ejects the spent cartridge and loads a new cartridge with each pull of the trigger.  (A full automatic continues loading and firing as long as the trigger is held down.  These have been illegal for many years.)  The semi-auto auto-load is widely used in hunting, and is just slightly faster than a skilled person with a manually loaded gun...pump action, lever action.
    •  Right, right. (0+ / 0-)

      I learned that fact a few days ago.
      - Isn't the majority of food obtained these days via farms?
      - Wouldn't it be fair to hold semi-automatic weapons, for dedicated hunters, in a much higher class of restriction? The people who need to use guns the most would develop said skill anyway, and:
      - Spree-killers are nearly always not exceptionally skilled with firearms, as I recall.

      •  I should note that the argument for federal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and state Constitutions for protecting the right to keep and bear arms, hunting was at best a tertiary consideration.

        Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

        by Robobagpiper on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 09:37:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Honestly, my concern lies less with the 2nd itself (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And more with just trying to get a hold on the statistical facts. This 'handguns and no semi-automatics' is the thing that I find most potentially interesting as an avenue of remedy. I haven't yet seen a counter to the study I linked about the Assault Weapons Ban, which seems to actually hold some promise from an initial perusal. If the 2nd is an obstacle to that, then I'm willing to talk about getting it changed.

          I'm all for pragmatism, but it has to be informed by idealism at some point along the line before it can be tempered.

  •  After reviewing literature for a few days (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here are some ideas about your questions.

    1. Since gun controls were loosened the impact on violent crime has not gotten better. Or worse. It seems to have had little effect on crime.

    2. The studies quoted from gun control opponents are statistically flawed.

    3. The general state of the research is poor and more research is needed. Badly needed.

    4. There are two basic arguments that gun advocates use.
    That they are needed for self defense.
    That they are an important right and an important part of our history and culture.

    5. Many of those who advocate based on the issue of rights believe that any regulation is wrong. So the issue of what type of weapons should and should not be allowed is irrelevant to their argument. Banning one type of weapon is essentially the same as banning all weapons.

    6. The Supreme Court has ruled that a very limited amount of regulation of firearms is permissable.

    •  A few thoughts, by point, from (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      one of the most radical members of the RKBA group:

      Not only have changes in gun laws, both stricter and looser, not shown any impact on overall rates of violent crime, but the CDC did a meta-study a few years back that failed to find any correlation between any specific commonly proposed supply-side gun control law and a decrease in volent crime in the places where those proposals were implemented. Yes, they threw out the caveat that more research is needed, but (a) they're researchers, so of course more research is needed and (b) given the rather lopsided distribution of opinion in the professional public healtth community on this issue, I imagine that the people compiling the data were very surprised by, and very unhappy about, what the data showed. It's to their credit that they worded the results the way they did, given that it is almost certain that the numbers did not support thier personal policy preferences.

      2 & 3:
      The biggest problem with research in this area is that nobody has undertaken it without already having a strong opinion. Given that provably correct answers are impossible, (politics ain't physics,) the amount of confirmation bias at play in this area makes all research suspect. This is why I like the CDC metastudy... not only did the team use a wide range of input data sets, thus tending to average out the biases, but they arrived at conclusions that were opposite of what an outside observer can justifiably assume about the personal biases of the people doing the work. I'm always more confident when somebody says that they're wrong than when they say that they're right.

      You've missed the most important argument: In the absence of any evidence to suggest that I am personally dangerous, how does restricting the kinds of cartridge-firing small arms I can own make you safer? Unless and until I demonstrate, by my own actions, that I am a threat, leave me the fuck alone. And don't try to restrict my liberty because somebody else might be an asshole.

      5 & 6: We who consider the right to be armed an important and fundamental right do not oppose all restrictions on personal armaments. We just tend to think that the ones most commonly proposed by the other side are pointless or non-functional Just because I don't support any of your restrictions doesn't mean that I don't support any restrictions. I have often described exactly where I would draw the line, and remember that I'm one of the most extreme of the RKBA group: I would draw the line between "buy it if you want one" and "you need the government's permission, which you might not get" exactly where my merely possessing the object in question puts my neighbors at risk, regardless of my intent regarding its use. So a fully-automatic  .50 caliber Browning machinegun sitting on my shelf is not an issue, but a single hand grenade, sitck of dynamite, or jug of homemade explosive is. You can't be killed with the machinegun unless I decide to kill you with it. This is not true of the grenade. Thus, I can draw a bright line between "you get to own this, and the law will deal with what you choose to do with it separately" and "this is too dangerous for you to even have, no matter what your intentions are." The supply-side gun control argument is "if you have this, you might do somethng bad with it, so we won't let you have it, even though we cannot show that you are going to do anything bad with it." That's preemptive and collective punishment, and I will have no dealings with it.


      "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
      "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

      by Leftie Gunner on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 04:52:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also worth discussing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldpunk, ConfusedSkyes

    I tend to look at the long view and big picture, and related to your questions are these:

    1) Why should it make a difference whether a weapon is semi-auto or not? Is there some acceptable threshold of lunatic gun violence that we are willing to accept? If a shooter sits up in a clock tower and kills a dozen people one at a time with a single shot rifle from a few hundred meters away, are they any less dead or is it any less a tragedy? If the answer to that problem is to ban single shot rifles, then "semi-auto" guns are not what you have a problem with, it is guns in general.

    2) If not now, in a few short years a person will be able to buy a computer-controlled set of machine tools that can make a firearm from scratch, at a cost of only a few thousand dollars. As has been pointed out elsewhere, making the chemicals for the ammunition is also a trivial task. It would be problematic for government to control the possession of a gun in such an environment. The past equivalent would be moonshine. It is illegal to make and sell your own liquor, but that has never stopped anyone from doing it. Especially in my part of the country.

    So on one hand, you have the problem of gun violence, which to be honest is just a subset of violent behavior in general, and on the other hand there is the problem that too much coercion or regulation will drive gun ownership underground where it cannot be regulated at all.

    Where exactly is a middle ground where there is sufficient oversight to minimize harm, but not so much oversight that it causes extra harm?

    For instance, licensed distilleries and liquor laws help make sure the product is safe as possible and kept out of the hands of minors, yet we still have alcohol-related deaths and underage drinking. But we tried total prohibition of alcohol, and that turned out to be a disaster.

    •  Here are my answers to that: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1) I feel like you're forcing a false choice here. The ideal situation is to prevent that from ever occurring, but in the event that it does, we should also limit the effects. Ideally, there would be no such thing as a car crash - but we take many steps to make certain that people are as safe as possible when they do crash.

      2) That's a significant rise in price and time investment. I do not think that that can be discounted.

      I do agree that a middle ground should be found; I am not comfortable with guns in any context, but that's simply not a reasonable goal for society, even for an idealist, without a complete paradigm shift in human society.

      •  Some agreement (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        we take many steps to make certain that people are as safe as possible when they do crash.
        Note that one of those steps is not banning people from owning cars, banning them from owning fast cars, or banning cars with big gas tanks, a point which you accept is a realistic analogue of the current gun situation. And a point on which far too many gun control advocates are about as realistic as libertarians who expect us to revert to the gold standard.
        That's a significant rise in price and time investment. I do not think that that can be discounted.
        I agree. I am merely pointing out that the price in time, money and required technical expertise is going down. At some point there will be an intersection of the curves "onerousness of regulation" and "ease of bypassing those regulations", after which it will be simpler to evade the law than to follow it.

        Witness piracy of intellectual property. Before VCR's, it would have been an inordinate amount of time and expense to copy a motion picture for personal use. Even photocopying a book would be so tedious that it would simpler to just buy the book. Now you would just go to a site like the defunct Megaupload and download the content with a few mouse clicks. The crime committed then compared to now is the same copyright violation. It is just immeasureably easier now.

        If someone can download a data file and plug it into a device they already own to make a completely anonymous gun, that opens up a whole new can of worms that I do not think anyone is quite prepared for.

        •  You raise good points, yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          (And thank you for them.)

          Note that one of those steps is not banning people from owning cars, banning them from owning fast cars, or banning cars with big gas tanks, a point which you accept is a realistic analogue of the current gun situation. And a point on which far too many gun control advocates are about as realistic as libertarians who expect us to revert to the gold standard.
          While that is true, we have banned cars from using specific kinds of tires except in certain situations (those types that are great in heavy snow but basically wreck the road), we have restrictions on how bright car lighting can get and we also require airbags, which come with certain safety advantages but also safety disadvantages. Two of those three pertain to the safety of other drivers on the road. Not a perfect mesh towards the "car as accidental murder weapon" analogy, but the car was never intended to have damaging targets as a primary function.
          I agree. I am merely pointing out that the price in time, money and required technical expertise is going down. At some point there will be an intersection of the curves "onerousness of regulation" and "ease of bypassing those regulations", after which it will be simpler to evade the law than to follow it.
          It's a chilling thought, definitely, and it's one that I'll now start to consider. But until we reach that critical point (do we have any estimates for that?), we have to design policy both on our immediate needs and our future needs.

          (I have absolutely no idea how to counter do-it-yourself gun factories, though...)

          •  Not sure (0+ / 0-)
            But until we reach that critical point (do we have any estimates for that?)
            I believe that right now you can get a rig that would make any sort of pistol-sized object you want except possibly the rifling in the barrel, for US$2500 or less (plus a PC to hook to it). I imagine it is quite illegal to make your own guns for resale, but like drugs, if there is sufficient demand for it, illegal or not, supply will rise to meet it. Right now, the supply and availability of guns in the US is easy enough that no one is making their own. Even in highly restrictive places like England, it simply easier to smuggle them in from elsewhere, and I would expect smuggling to be a problem long before anonymous local manufacture is.
            •  What are these things called? (0+ / 0-)

              I didn't think self-manufacturing on that scale was yet feasible. The metal quality and everything is good as well? It just... what, die-casts?

              •  Several techs (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                There are several technologies for the so-it-yourselfer, depending on what you want to make. For something complex, mechanical and metal, you probably want a computer-controlled set of conventional machine tools, probably a three-axis milling machine, possibly with a fourth axis as well (a rotary table to spin the part around). A small rig could make all the parts needed for a pistol, but I think it would be difficult to automate rifling the barrel. I do think you could make the tools needed to do the rifling, however.

                Scaling the tech up to rifle size is a matter of money, not complexity.

                •  Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

                  Just needed a name so I could start searching info on this thing.

                  Did you have any sort of rebuttal to my counter-example with cars, by the way, Shamash?

                  •  Rebuttal? (0+ / 0-)

                    Not really. The analogue holds. You mention restrictions on cars. We already have restrictions on autofire weapons and any other genuinely military weapon, many new guns now have safety locks, either integral or external as part of the purchase, there are plenty of local, state and federal restrictions on when and where and how a firearm can be carried (not on airliners, many states say you cannot carry into a bar or courthouse, gun-free school zones), varying background checks and training for a concealed carry permit, you might only be able to buy a limited number of guns in a certain time period, misuse of one is a crime even if no one is harmed, and so on.

                    So, there do exist plenty of restrictions on firepower. Contrast this to say your grandfather's time (circa 1920), when you could order a Thompson submachinegun through the mail for cash, or look at the reprints of the 1903 Sears & Roebuck catalog, where you could order dynamite by the case and have it delivered to your door, no questions asked.

                    Those who cry the loudest for more restrictions fail to notice or care that the past century has been virtually nothing but restrictions on gun owners, and the few instances in which restrictions have been reduced have been overblown. For instance, the Clinton-era "assault weapon ban" ended quietly a while back and judging by the crime statistics, you couldn't tell.

                    And before anyone brings it up, that assault weapon ban would not have prevented the purchase of an AR-15 by the Aurora shooter. He could have legally bought one used or bought a new "sporterized" model that was functionally identical. Similarly, the ban on high-capacity magazines would not have prevented a private sale nor the new purchase of one that had been manufactured before the ban took effect (ones already made were exempt from the ban and many manufacturers stockpiled to take advantage of this).

                    My personal feeling is that those who call for more compromise by gun owners should look up what the word "compromise" means. If these gun control advocates are genuinely interested in compromise, then it would mean that they would relax one of the current regulations or laws in order to gain a concession from gun advocates that would strengthen something else. That is what compromise means.

                    If on the other hand, they merely want to restrict things further but give nothing in return, that is asking for capitulation, not compromise. I think anyone who calls that "compromise" is about as reasonable and ethical and suspect in their motivations as say the Republicans who called for "compromise" on the Affordable Care Act.

  •  Why are you asking (0+ / 0-)

    us to do research for you?  Did you break your google?

    Can you call yourself a real liberal if you aren't reading driftglass?

    by CJB on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 04:00:11 PM PDT

  •  I noticed you are following me (0+ / 0-)

    Ordinarily this would pass w/o comment. But you should know *or probably do know) the recent meta war has dragged your username into it. So if you do not mind indulging me, do you mind telling me which brain dripping of mine inspired you to follow me?

    Sorry for the meta but I guess it's that season.

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