I am confident that most everyone wants to stop or at the least lessen the consequences of the actions of people like James Holmes. So what could have been done, what controls could have been in place that would have prevented or lessened the severity of the consequences of what he did?
Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a DKos group of second amendment supporters who also have progressive and liberal values. We don't think that being a liberal means one has to be anti-gun. Some of us are extreme in our second amendment views (no licensing, no restrictions on small arms) and some of us are more moderate (licensing, restrictions on small arms.) Moderate or extreme or somewhere in between, we hold one common belief: more gun control equals lost elections. We don't want a repeat of 1994. We are an inclusive group: if you see the Second Amendment as safeguarding our right to keep and bear arms individually, then come join us in our conversation. If you are against the right to keep and bear arms, come join our conversation. We look forward to seeing you, as long as you engage in a civil discussion.As always, if you're interested in joining RKBA, message KVoimakas.
Would a waiting period have stopped him? No.
Would having to register the guns he bought have stopped him? No.
Would a ban on high capacity magazines or drums have stopped him? No, but such a ban has the potential to lessen the severity of the consequences.
Would liability insurance have stopped him? No.
Would requiring him to be licensed have stopped him? No.
Would a limit on the number of firearms a person can own have stopped him? No, but such a limit has the potential to lessen the consequences.
Would closing the “gun show loophole” have stopped him? No.
Would a background check have stopped him? No.
I don’t believe there is much of anything in regards to firearms legislation that would have prevented him from doing what he did and there are only a few things that might have lessened the severity of the consequences. But that is because James Holmes is an anomaly. Not that what he did was an anomaly but who he was. There is no legislation that can be put in place to control for a person with no criminal history making the decision to commit mass murder. Therefore I don’t see the value in focusing on him or what he did. James Holmes needs to disappear.
If we are going to have a conversation regarding firearms, firearm legislation and violent crime / gun crime, there are some things we need to deeply consider. What are the root causes of violent crime / gun crime? What are the outcomes we are looking for in regards to firearm legislation? What controls have the potential to achieve those outcomes? How effective will the controls be and how will the controls be implemented?
What are the underlying causes of violent / gun crime? What drives people to engage in violent criminal behavior? Is age a factor? Do economics (unemployment, poverty or income inequality) play a role? What about proximity / geographic location or substance abuse? Maybe education / intelligence, physical / emotional abuse, or TV / video game violence is involved. How about greed, anger, jealously, revenge, or pride? This is a complex topic and it is undoubtedly very difficult to obtain succinct, well defined answers. The thing is that without knowing what the underlying causes are it is very difficult if not impossible to find solutions that address violent criminal behavior.
I am sure everyone has noticed that I haven’t listed guns as being an underlying cause. The reason for that is twofold, one, there is no evidence that shows a causal link between firearms and crime rates and two, guns are objects, objects have no volition, therefore objects cannot be the cause of anything; rather they must be acted upon by an outside force and it is the action / criminal behavior of the outside force that is a cause.
Let me make sure I am being correctly understood. While guns are not the cause of violent criminal behavior they most certainly can facilitate violent criminal behavior as well as increase the severity of the consequences of violent criminal behavior. Additionally I feel pretty confident that there is a correlation between guns and violent crime.
Okay, so what kind of outcomes are we looking to achieve with firearm legislation? I would imagine that we want to reduce the number of firearm related homicides, suicides, robberies, assaults and negligent discharges that result in injury or death. We are also probably trying to restrict criminal access to firearms.
What I want to do now is take a look at each of the outcomes we want to achieve and then list control measures that could potentially help us deliver that outcome.
Potential controls for negligent discharges;
• gun safety training
• trigger locks and
• gun safes.
Potential controls for gun related suicides;
• waiting / cooling off periods
• trigger locks
• gun safes
• ban handguns
The next one is more difficult because gun related homicide, robbery and assault a.k.a. violent crime is far broader than suicide and negligent discharges so I will simply list controls that people here have mentioned as ones they would like to see in place.
• Registration of all firearms
• Licensing of all firearm owners
• Closing the “gun show loophole” / private sale loophole
• Repeal of the 2nd Amendment
• Ban of high capacity magazines / drums
• Ban open carry
• Ban concealed carry
• Ban guns
• Ban handguns
• Ban machine guns
• Ban semi-automatic “assault” rifles
• Limit the number of guns any one person can own
• Limit the number of guns any one person can buy within a prescribed period of time
• Better enforcement of current law.
• Waiting / cooling off periods
• Background checks
• Psychological testing for gun ownership
• Liability insurance
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, I am sure there are other controls that I have failed to mention.
Effectiveness of Controls
Let me start off by saying it is my opinion that ineffective controls are a waste of time, energy and valuable resources. If a control isn’t capable of producing the desired results, it shouldn’t be implemented. With that said how can we know which controls will have a enough of an impact to deliver the outcomes we wish to achieve? What we would need to do is prior to controls being implemented they would need to be tested on the basis of their being reasonable, achievable and whether or not they will result in a measurable reduction in violent gun related crime in relation to the cost of implementation.
So let’s put a few of the above proposed controls to the test. Is requiring all 280 million or so guns to be registered reasonable? To put it another way is gun registration not excessive or extreme, is it moderate or fair? Is the registration of 280 million guns achievable? Will there be a measurable reduction in violent gun related crime in relation to the cost of implementing a gun registration program? In other words will the benefits of registering guns outweigh the costs?
How about repealing the 2nd Amendment? Is that reasonable? Is it achievable? Will it reduce violent gun related crime? What would the cost to the Democratic Party be?
Banning high capacity magazines and drums. Is that reasonable? Is it achievable? Will such a ban reduce the severity of the consequences of a potential mass shooting? What will the cost be and would the cost be worth it?
I'm not going to apply this test to all the controls listed, why should I have all the fun.
As far as implementation goes I will leave this subject for another time because there will be a considerable amount of time and effort involved. Think about it. Which department would handle this? The ATF? Would another department need to be established? What kind of budget would be needed. What about enforcement? I just don't have the time nor inclination to think all that through right now. Maybe someone out there reading this would like to give it a go? I think I have covered enough to re-start the conversation. I look forward to your comments. As an aside please be aware, the time zone I am in severely restricts my ability to participate in comments. I will read them all and respond when I can.