Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Monday, July 23, 2012

gun control as a solution?

My suggestion for a first step on stopping the kind of mass carnage we just saw in Colorado was to ban assault rifles-- at the least reinstate the ban Clinton got passed in 1994 which expired in 2004. It was an attempt to limit access to the kind of rapid fire weapons and magazines developed for military use. These are weapons only intended to kill other humans. They are not needed for home defense. You can't use them to hunt.

The right wing claims such ownership is a Constitutional right which if anybody reads the Second Amendment, they can see says no such thing. Do you see the right to have cannons or any specific weapon?
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Some say militia means our national guard and the second part of the statement doesn't mean our own right to have guns, but to me, that's not a logical interpretation.  Most probably it took into account that at the time often all able bodied men could be called upon by their government to be part of a defense. This was a government without the kinds of arms that it has today.

America has a long history of gun ownership and trying to eliminate all guns not only won't happen, but isn't going to stop mass murderers. Assault rifles though, that's a different story altogether. Seriously you can't stop an intruder threatening your life with a regular gun? If you can't, you shouldn't have it either.

Assault rifles have been used over and over again to shoot so fast that no one can stop the shooter. It enabled 70 to be shot at that theater-- and more would have died had it not jammed. No routine handgun (with a regular magazine) or rifle could do that.

 I've heard the arguments why assault rifles are needed-- what if the citizen has to fight their own government? The NRA is supporting a bill in one state that would allow for the times when a citizen has a right to fire on the police. I didn't read the details of the proposed bill but that's the kind of thinking that convinces yahoos they do need an AK-47.

For Obama or Romney to suggest (what both have said before) that there should be a ban on assault rifles would require the kind of courage that I haven't seen in either these days. Because the NRA is so powerful, they can stop Congress from proposing anything with no chance for more draconian measures. The NRA is supported by a very powerful guns and munitions merchandizing business-- around the world.

Farm Boss was in the NRA when we were a young married couple. He and I were both gun owners when we married, and he was in favor of supporting not only the right to own guns but also be well trained in their use. He quit it for some years, but then joined again when there was talk of taking away all guns probably twenty five years ago or more. Then he got so disgusted by how the NRA promoted the right to own  human killing weapons that he got out again-- that was about twenty years ago. It looks like they have only gotten more mercenary in the years since.

Some are saying we shouldn't even talk about solutions right now as this is a time to mourn. Or get more clear-headed. Or wait until nobody is talking about it, then discuss solutions. The some who are saying that want nothing done as people in this country only operate under drama queen/king times.

So we are bombarded by who this guy was, as we were after Tucson and after Virginia Tech and after _____________. Fill in the blank as it's been all around the world including that horror in Norway. Does the media realize that they only exacerbate the problem when they give these shooters fame? When they go into their family history back to the Mayflower? Media, despite what they say, doesn't care that they may lead to copycat killers because, as much as arms manufacturing is a big business, so is media.

 I don't really care who this guy is. I don't want to know anything about him except one thing-- what can we do to catch someone like him before midnight in a crowded movie theater? At first it sounded as though he was so intelligent, such a successful person, that there were no tell-tall signs; then other information trickled in like--gun club turns down membership request.

As with many of these shooters, it is beginning to sound as though a few people did see something was out of whack with him, but what could they do? What options are in place to look at this kind of person and evaluate what's going on? Our fear of offending someone's rights is running smack into our desire to not see carnage in a mall.

Right now-- pretty much nothing can be done even knowing that schizophrenia does develop at about this age. The thing is most untreated schizophrenia, although hard for the family, difficult to be around, is not deadly. 10% potentially is. Seriously we cannot get a grip on finding these people first for their sake and ours?

Some are suggesting that more people owning guns would be a solution and would have stopped the shooter after only a few deaths. How exactly? Say 20% of the people in that theater were carrying guns, would a shootout have saved lives or cost more? Nobody was going to the theater with an AR-15 at their side.

This man was thoroughly armored. Who would know that when they started shooting at him? The gas canisters he threw out doubtless confused vision (what's with permitting just anybody to buy those?). In a shoot-out, how many more would have been killed by friendly fire which happens even with our trained police and military?

If it's unrealistic to think the government could stop all gun ownership and confiscate what is out there, what about evaluating those who are trying to purchase a gun-- especially the kinds he bought? From what we heard at first, it sounded as though this guy would likely have passed all tests... except now we read this from the shooting club, and it sounds like his problem wasn't so deeply underground as it at first sounded.

Somehow he went into stores, maybe stayed very quiet while doing it and didn't ring any bells. Should it have rung at least one that he purchased so many?

With generally no waiting period to buy a gun in most states, there are no phone call checks which again might've stopped a purchase as it stopped his right to be in that gun club. The NRA, with the support of the right wing, rebel at any waiting period to buy guns, any check on background but they don't over the same kind of thing to get a concealed weapon permit. What's with that?

Another thing that could have helped (besides a ban on assault rifles) would be a computer system that could catch when someone bought so many 'war' weapons within a short period of time as well as all that ammunition online.

Suppose we had the manpower to investigate that kind of mass purchaser (even when he didn't have a Muslim sounding name), maybe do an onsite interview or at least a phone call? Talk to those who know the person? Or have we cut budgets so much that isn't possible?

The thing is a lot of us already worry about 1984 and a police state. Do we want to head further in that direction? Well when it stops the killing of children, I think we should be at least thinking about options. Next time it could be our child or grandchild.

So some potential steps that don't seem draconian to me:

mental health checks on weapon purchasers (phone calls would be good)
no assault rifle purchases to civilians
limits on rifle and gun magazine sizes

Not so much but more people would be alive today if they had been in place. Do we have the courage to stand against the NRA? Our Congress doesn't. But maybe we need to make them more afraid of us than them!

And for god's sake what will it take before we start finding better ways to deal with mental illness? When Gabby Giffords was shot, I said the same thing. What has happened since? Nothing that I know of!


Lynn said...

Hear ye, hear ye, Rain.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Compelling article!! Especially the scenario of what if 20% of the movie goers were armed!!! There is no way in an enclossed theater with gas fogging the area, that armed citizens could stop the shooting. In all likelyhood friendly fire would made it worse. This is enough reason to see that assault rifles are different than guns.

la peregrina said...

There is also this issue which The Denver Post columnist Chuck Murphy addressed in this morning's editon of the paper, what if the shooter's name was Mohammed?:


Rain Trueax said...

That's a good article and question, La peregrina

Ingineer66 said...

That is a good article. Did you read the comments as well? That may not be an excessive quantity of ammunition for a family. But the rapid build up in weapons and ammo should have set off some kind of red flag.

Hindsight is always 20/20. We expect our criminals to look and act like criminals not advanced degree college students. And we are not supposed to discriminate about how somebody looks (flaming red hair). We do not have enough police to arrest the drug dealers and burglars in this country, how are we supposed to send them to investigate every weird looking or acting person? People already complain that we spend too much money on prisons and police and not enough on education, but now suddenly we should spend more on police?

Rain Trueax said...

The reason many complain about too much going into prisons is a lot of it relates to drug use which many feel is a wrong direction anyway. Want to ban drugs-- ban alcohol too. Both bans work so well.

As for lefties not wanting more police, that's not accurate. It's not lefties trying to take money from such uses. Lefties might want police well trained, not brutalizing as they go, but in terms of respect for them, I don't hear a leftie saying we should pay the police less or have less of them.

I'll have more to say on something i think we should do in a coming blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the effort and research you are putting into writing about this event. -- Julie

Hattie said...

Everything you say. This all needs to be well regulated, as it says in the Constitution.

Ingineer66 said...

Today there is a story about a man arrested near here that had body armor and several rifle and pistol clips and boxes of ammo in his car. He was stopped for DUI and it turns out he is an ex felon so it was illegal for him to possess ammunition. That is how well gun laws work. Criminals that are breaking the big laws like murder and rape and robbery really don't care about the little laws either. We need to quit coddling the criminals and worry about the rest of us that don't get arrested.

I heard today that the so called assault rifle that the theater shooter used was really a .22 that looked like a military weapon. I haven't read that anywhere do you know if that was true?

Rain Trueax said...

Farm Boss says that the AR-15 is a .22 caliber bullet, high velocity designed for the military in Vietnam. A 5.56mm. this is not your .22 plinker cartridge or gun. As a high velocity weapon it is a man killer. It would be popular with those who want to disable a lot of people in a hurry. It's made to spray out bullets in a hurry, disable a lot of people in a hurry.

Rain Trueax said...

Our gun laws don't work for two reasons. The NRA and gun lobbyists don't want waiting periods which would allow a check of who bought the guns.

Yes, there are also black market guns but let's start with stopping guys like you described and then we can concentrate on the black market. Right now anybody can walk into a store and if the clerk is not someone who is looking for troubled buyers, walk out with it. In Tucson that guy was refused before he was able to buy. There needs to be more discernment and a waiting period where more than Muslim names can be checked. It might not stop it all but it would the killer in a big hurry or one with a record.

That all costs some money though and the right wing doesn't want money going into anything like it because it'd also interfere with NRA rights and their money trumps people killed in a movie theater or a store or a McD's or waiting to see a Congressman.

The fact that people can buy guns with no waiting period, no checks, is asinine and yet it's being defended as Civil Rights. How about our Civil Rights to go into a movie theater and be safe from insane nutcases who want to copy what this guy did?

Rain Trueax said...

RIP Gun Control

Ingineer66 said...

Yes I know there is a big difference between a .22 and a .223 or 5.56mm I was just wondering if it was an AR or a look alike. Doesn't really matter because the other weapons he had were very effective at close range. They just would not be affected by the Clinton ban.

Ingineer66 said...

Interesting that Bloomberg is being so hard on everybody else on gun control. His city has some of the strictest gun laws in the world yet has an increasing murder rate.

Rain Trueax said...

The point is why do people, very like you, who don't often want to own an assault rifle, why do they defend others buying one? And what about a waiting period to buy any gun? Isn't that commonsense with then some time to evaluate the person's record? Might stop some of them. What about background checks? Who wants a guy like this one to own a killing weapon? And what about stopping those extended magazines Why are they needed? Why defend them since without him being able to fire so fast and so many rounds some of the guys in that audience could have jumped him when he had to shove in another magazine. That's what stopped the Tucson shooter from being more effective. he had the extended mag though and had it also jam. which i guess is not uncommon when you fire a lot in a hurry that way.

The point is there are steps to take that don't take away all guns but make it harder for a shooter to get one. This guy might've passed the tests and yet he didn't for that gun club when they called his home.

Ingineer66 said...

I do not have a problem with waiting periods. I think the 15 day period in California is excessive. Five Days should be plenty. I do not own an assault rifle, and I probably never will. Someday when I stop finding better uses for my money, I would like to buy a ranch rifle, but we cannot even get those in California unless it has a 5 shot non-removable magazine.

As for defending the 2nd amendment as Ice T told British TV, guns are legal and part of our culture here in America. We have them to protect us from the police. The 2nd amendment protects all the other ones.

Ingineer66 said...

I am on the fence with extended pistol magazines like the Tuscon shooter used. But like you said it jammed. Many police officers that I know use smaller clips because they can change them fast and they are less likely to jam. If you know what you are doing you can still fire a lot of shots with a 7 shot pistol clip as you can with a 14 shot pistol clip. It is kind of like Mayor Bloomberg's effort to ban soft drinks over 16 ounces. I would just buy 2 and still have 32 ounces.