Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bring back the gun debate

I was going to post something else today, but I decided that I had to comment on the massacre at Virginia Tech.

I heard about what happened while I was sitting in class, which made it even more surreal. I imagined what it might have been like for those professors and students. While I sat there, I looked around the room and tried to formulate a plan in the event of something like that happening in my own classroom. You can't prepare for that.

It's time to bring back the gun debate. Democrats have let this issue fall by the wayside because of their fear of losing support among the 3G's (guns, god, and (anti-)gay) contingent. It's time to stop being afraid. Hell, we don't have their support anyway, so screw 'em.

I know it would be virtually impossible to pass any kind of gun control legislation under the Bush administration, but when we elect the next President, let's get it done, once and for all.

My heart goes out to all the families affected by this senseless act.


PoliShifter said...

I was absolutely amazed at how fast the right wing began defending their "right" to bear arms...even before they offered condolences to the surviving family members of the victims. The NRA fully mobilized within days.

We're not talking about "taking people's guns away", we talking about logical rational regulations that nearly every American supports.

From what I read and remember Virginia doesn't even require a license for a hand gun, no background checks, and no cooling off period.

Fortunately as the majority America has come around on Iraq and realized how corrupt BushCo is, most Americans realize that some form of gun control is necessary.

The only few who think more guns are the answer, that every college kid should have a concealed weapons permit, or that teachers should carry guns are rabid rightwingers and they are a minority.

They will lose on this one.

1138 said...

I see it as a states issue.
As far as federal law goes the supreme court as currently configured is going to see it the same way.
I posted my feelings on this over on my blog but let me expand just a bit.
The worst school killing was in the 20's and was done by a farmer with bombs - not a gun he killed 45ish the current news reports have called the current event the largest mass murder or second largest mass murder in American history and they are wrong, they are feeding us hysteria not history.

polshifter your memory may be correct they may not have, but the did before this incident but for some reason the killers mental record either didn't matter, wasn't reported, or someone screwed up.

The important issue is not guns, but why people are being more and more frequently driven to commit these senseless murders.

This "kid" was going to kill and if he couldn't do it with guns, he was bound to do it with something else.

1138 said...

By the way polshifter your comment is quite ironic next to your icon Harrison Ford with a pistol ;)

The state I live in does not require a license and I do own a pistol.
A state I used to live in (NY) used to require a license, that license was simply a background check and a signature from the town sheriff saying he had no objection to you having a license.

Elvez73 said...

I live in VA, and I would be all for more gun laws if I thought they would help, but unfortunately I don't think they would. To buy a handgun here you must be 21, have 3 forms of id, and have a State Police and Federal background check, typically the process takes 30 to 45 minutes, and you can only buy one gun a month. Mentally impaired and people who have been institutionalized are barred from owning firearms, but its easy to lie on the form, and as long as you have a clean record your in. The maniac in the VT shootings was obviously insane and had been involuntarily committed in 05, he should have been placed on some type of registry that barred him from buying firearms. Unfortunately it would probally have been just as easy for him to get an illegal gun on the streets. Banning handguns won't get rid of handgun violence, witness the UK's recent ban after Dunblane, and the now spike in illegal gun crime especially in London where it was almost unheard of a decade ago. I own guns and I believe in the 2nd amendment, but I want a solution to these types of shootings. If a system similar to licensing for automobiles was put into effect I would support that, if you have to pass a test every few years to drive, why not do the same to own firearms? The massacre in Blacksburg happened foe many reasons, Laws that don't allow judges to hold severely dangerous mentally ill persons for longer than a few days, lack of diligence by the Tech police in watching this moron after the various stalking complaints, and shitty parenting by his parents who ignored their son's obvious insanity, and the relatively easy way in which he was able to access firearms. No easy answers here. Its a terrible event that we have to figure out how to prevent.

1138 said...

"I want a solution to these types of shootings"

You won't find one.

Tom Harper said...

I think it would be a mistake for the Democrats to campaign for gun control. Every time they do this they get trounced.

I have no personal interest in guns, but there are millions of Libertarian and Independent types who worship their guns. We need these people on our side. If we alienate them we'll have a Republican Congress and White House in 2008.

Who Hijacked Our Country

brdrake said...

Guns are not the issue. Jesus Christ! Go back and watch "Bowling For Columbine" again. (Michael Moore keeps popping up here in the form of hero-worship...have you forgotten the most profound point made in that documentary?) The current administration would love to institute any form(s) of gun-control. Disarming a "free" nation is never a good idea. I do not welcome or support anymore pissing on our Constitution and Bill of Rights in the form of laws passed "to protect the public"...or "for our own good". In addition, the assertion that "most Americans realize that some form of gun control is necessary" is completely unfounded, and arguably not at all related to their feelings about Iraq. How do you make the connection between domestic Constitutional rights, and disagreement about Iraq? Gun control only works when total control is asserted. Germany in 1939 is the ultimate role model for that thinking. No law will ever stop, or even hinder criminals and misguided individuals from getting their bloody little hands on a gun. What those kinds of laws will accomplish is further erosion of our rights as Americans. I am neither a member of, or a fan of the NRA, but we could all learn a lesson from their ability to fully mobilize within days. How fucking pathetic does that make us? "Liberals", for the most part...are really the best at talking. Talking and hand-wringing. The Democrats are going to prove that again...painfully...between now and '08. How about using this, and every forum to start holding their hands to the fire? Stop yapping about the tired old soup that libs have been yammering on about forever. Shit, I'd rather hear more Anna Nicole Smith coverage. Comprende?

LET'S TALK said...

I agree with tom on this one, right now would be a very big mistake for Dems. to bring up gun control at this point.

There's just to much at stake right now to blow the next election by starting a fight with the NRA and who ever else has different opinons about gun control.

Fight this battle another day and time.

Anonymous said...

I know it would be virtually impossible to pass any kind of gun control legislation under the Bush administration, but when we elect the next President, let's get it done, once and for all.

And even when a municipality does, DC for instance, even Congress gets on board and blackmails them until they repeal.

Lizzy said...

Wow, guys. I had no idea that I would be receiving such varied opinions/comments on this post. I guess I figured if you read this blog, you were pro-gun control. It's a good thing that there are so many opinions on the subject.

That being said, I do stand by my position on this matter. I'm not talking about taking everyone's guns away, by any means. I'm just saying there has to be a happy medium here. Shutting down the gun shows, and enforcing restrictions is a good place to start. This gun culture is pure madness.

From The Economist:
As striking are the overall rates of violent death by handguns in America. The country is filled with 200m guns, half the world’s privately-owned total. Residents of other countries may fret that criminals, gang-members and insane individuals are increasingly likely to use guns and knives. But in comparison with America, few other developed countries have much to worry about. The gun-murder rate in America is more than 30 times that of England and Wales, for example. Canada—like America, a “frontier” country with high rates of gun ownership—sees far fewer victims shot down: the firearm murder-rate south of the Canadian border is vastly higher than the rate north of it. America may not quite lead the world in gun murders (South Africa probably holds that dubious title) but it has a dismally prominent position.

What might be done to improve matters in America? The intuitive answer, at least for Europeans and those who live in countries where guns are less easily available, is that laws must be tightened to make it harder to obtain and use such weapons. Not only might that reduce the frequency of criminal acts, goes the argument, but it may also cut the number of accidental deaths and suicides.

Sheryl said...

Paul, I agree that it is important to deal with the reasons people crack up, but certainly having access to certain types of guns multiplies the damage that they can do when they do crack. You can be sure this guy would not have been able to kill this many people with a regular gun.

brdrake said...

If you think shutting down gun shows is even a possible...let alone a viable are dreaming. This kind of thinking is dangerous and naieve. And is actually counter-productive to positive and real change. And the fact that you automatically assume that everyone reading your blog is 'pro gun control' shows you have a limited understanding of true freedom. Do you really believe that shutting down anyone's right to gather and share matter how offensive and misguided they may be to the rest of the right or desirable way to do things? How do you recommend enforcing restrictions? Be careful about throwing around phrases and sloganeering. It's completely hypocritical to consume violence and mayhem as a near-steady diet in the form of entertainment, and then wail and moan about "gun-culture madness." America is gun-culture. Half the fucking logos, iconography and insignias/signage et al of our history and patriotic genetics are loaded with guns and rifles. From the Revolutionary War symbols on banks and Cowboys and Indians, sports teams, etc. Americans LOVE The Sopranos. And you can't get away with the "that's TV" argument. Americans LOVE "reality" violence. What do you list as your favorite movies and TV shows? We, almost all of us, LOVE violence. It's a major player... part of our food-group and lexicon. When something happens in everyday life to everyday people that mirrors our entertainment, we go into collective denial...start pontificating and bellowing about how "something needs to be done". Like the housewife that supports the school board who would restrict access to books deemed 'dangerous' or 'pornographic'...while secretly racist and addicted to online smut. There's gonna be a whole lot more children driven insane from the blinding, hypocritical, negligent parenting that too often passes muster in Amerikkka. Get used to it. Guns are not the issue

Lizzy said...

>>Do you really believe that shutting down anyone's right to gather and share matter how offensive and misguided they may be to the rest of the right or desirable way to do things? <<

Didn't I say?: "It's a good thing that there are so many opinions on the subject."

So, you have no problem with the average dim-wit having a basement full of guns?

Have other countries with true gun control become fascist states?

Guns may not be the issue, but it is definitely a huge problem.

1138 said...

Sheryl I can guarantee that he could have killed far more with a bomb.
Take away the obvious route for a determined killer and you buy yourself even bigger problems.
What failed here is the system.
Virginia is not complying with Federal guidelines on restrictions baring those who have been determined to be a threat to themselves and others.

Snave said...

It's late, I took painkillers for my back, and I feel like blabbering. So, I apologize in advance for the length of this comment.

For fun, I looked up the Second Amendment and its history at Wikipedia, and I have done my best to summarize it here. I found that it was first written like this:

"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."

As early as the 12th century, King Henry II required all freemen to bear arms for defense. A century after that, Henry III required any male between 15 and 50 to own a firearm... but this was because England had no police force until the 1820's, and no standing army in those earlier times. In the late 1600's, England's parliament placed restrictions on who could own firearms, making it so that everyone was pretty much disarmed except the rich. For several years during that time, Protestants were not allowed to bear arms...

Anyway, in 1689, England came up with something called the English Declaration of Rights which said Protestants COULD "have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law." Later, in what would become the U.S., the British government wanted to disarm the American colonists' militias. The colonists cited the English Declaration in their efforts to stay armed. The English were apparently not out to deprive colonists of the right to self-defense as much as they were eager to prevent the spread of the colonists' militias. These are some of the things which "precursed" the addition of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment was not as much created at that point, as it was a reiteration of common-law rights to keep and bear arms, as it had been traditionally done for the past few centuries in England.

Where the argument lies tends to be in whether the basic common-law right to self-defense is a legally distinct thing from the right to bear arms. Does "keep and bear arms" mean for self-defense, for having an armed public to fight off invading armies, or both?

This is what James Madison had to say about it:

"Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops."

Noah Webster said that "before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed".

This is directly from Wikipedia:

During the last two decades, the intended meaning of the Second Amendment, and how the Amendment applies in the twenty-first century, is one of the most frequently debated topics in American politics. The reason may stem in part from the perceived encroachments on, or enhancements of, individual rights to arms, amidst the increased prominence of gun control positions in modern politics.

The modern Second Amendment debate centers on questions such as:

Who does the Amendment mean by "the People"?

Why does the Amendment protect the right to 'keep and bear arms', and not protect just the right to 'bear arms'?

Does "bear arms" or "keep and bear arms" mean the same now as it did in 1789?

Is there significance that the Amendment is constructed of two clauses?

Is there significance that the phrase "defense of himself/themselves and the State" was included in some State Constitutions at the time but not included in the Federal Second Amendment?

In addition, the debate often involves discussion focused on more precise details around the word "militia" from the first clause portion of the Second Amendment, such as:

Who or what does the Amendment mean by the "militia"?

What relationship does "militia" today have with "militia" in 1789?

What is meant by "well regulated", relative to "militia"?

Does the mention of "militia" in the Second Amendment mean that maintaining viable militia is the 'obvious purpose' of the Second Amendment?

It also often involves topics on differences in historical meanings and thoughts such as:

What does "shall not be infringed" mean?

It also expands to include discussions on the impact among states, such as:

Does the Amendment prohibit States from regulating arms?

Does the Amendment permit some States to deviate from interpretations of the Amendment as taken by other States?

SO..... anyway. Lots of ways the Second Amendment can be analyzed...

I have my old 1893 Stevens Marksman .22 rifle. I haven't fired it in years, and I currently don't have any bullets in the house... but when I used to take it out for target practice, I found it to be a very well-crafted and accurate gun. My late father bought it at a gun show and restored it for me, and he gave it to me when I was about ten or twelve. I took Hunter's Safety classes, and I think that with just a little review, I could be "gun-safe" today.

The kind of weapons I would like to see restrictions on are ones that can be easily concealed and which can rapidly fire mulitple rounds... that would have to include handguns. I like the idea of more extensive rules about how one can go about purchasing a gun, and some regulations about how you can qualify to own one, including strict adherence to matters such as mental incompetency, past time spent in prison, etc.

Licensing guns? I'm not sure about that... the Dems might want to stay away from that one. It's perfect fodder for the guys on the right who like to say "once all the guns are licensed, the government knows where they are and they will come get them from you when they feel like it."

I grew up in a conservative household, and my Dad always voted based on the gun issue. Later in his life, he voted based on whether he liked the entire candidate or not, but for years, his was always a vote based on "gun control". Dad was a gun collector; he once owned up to 200 guns, mostly antiques that didn't really work anymore, but which might have had historical value. He always kept a loaded shotgun under his bed... sigh...

Where I live, it's very rural in nature. Lots of people here own guns, and nobody really thinks anything of it. People around here tend to respect their guns, and many locals are hunters. In our town, there is usually a murder about every three to five years, and I believe our local murders during the last couple of decades have been with knives or bludgeoning.

Because I have grown up in such an area and have had some fairly extensive gun experience, I don't really have a fear of the guns themselves. What I fear are the people who have guns but shouldn't have them. It's a major problem, trying to figure that one out.

I think we need to leave the Second Amendment as it is, and have some serious discussions about what it means and about how it relates to America today. Our culture definitely glorifies guns and their use in television and movies... I heard some horrifying stat the other day that an average American kid sees something like 200,000 murders on TV by the time they're 18. Without getting into issues of censorship, how can THAT be stopped? I can see how such exposure to so much violence in the media might tend to numb the public, or how it could cause some people to believe that violence is indeed a means to an end or a viable solution to any number of problems, and that there are indeed tools available with which to cause the violence. Not just guns... but knives, cars, baseball bats... I don't keep a loaded shotgun under my bed like my dad did, but I do keep a baseball bat or two around the house. I hear that one of the best ways to get yourself shot by an intruder in your home is to say "I've got a gun!"

So I have to say I have a moderate-to-left view on this one. I do believe there need to be serious discussions about restrictions on certain types of weapons... I don't want local yahoos either in this little town or in big cities or ANYWHERE to be better-armed than the local police or better-armed than the guys at the local National Guard station. I also think that if people are paranoid enough to keep a loaded shotgun under their bed, or if they like to hunt with their guns, that's o.k.

Michael Moore is an NRA member, and he hates what the NRA has become. It is no longer an organization for sportsmen. I am with him... our culture seriously needs to look at itself in the mirror and figure out how exactly (or at least more or less!) the Second Amendment fits into today's America. And I think we need to consider how what 1138 says fits in with all that:

"The important issue is not guns, but why people are being more and more frequently driven to commit these senseless murders."

I think some restrictions and regulations might be helpful, but I also don't think such measure alone would address the root(s) of the problem.

Damien said...

Yeah I heard about it late, but had to take a double take it really did stop me in my tracks for a little bit - crazy stuff.

Guess the NRA has the media packs ready on short notice these days, fucking dim wits.