Friday, February 23, 2018

Guns are too easy to get, thanks to the modern NRA

Karl Frederick, NRA President in 1934, during congressional hearings on the National Firearms Act (which the NRA supported) testified "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. [...] I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses."

The NRA also supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), which together created a system to federally license gun dealers and established restrictions on particular categories and classes of firearms.

Something changed in the 1970s. From Politico in 2014:
From 1888, when law review articles first were indexed, through 1959, every single one on the Second Amendment concluded it did not guarantee an individual right to a gun. The first to argue otherwise, written by a William and Mary law student named Stuart R. Hays, appeared in 1960. He began by citing an article in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine and argued that the amendment enforced a “right of revolution,” of which the Southern states availed themselves during what the author called “The War Between the States.”
At first, only a few articles echoed that view. Then, starting in the late 1970s, a squad of attorneys and professors began to churn out law review submissions, dozens of them, at a prodigious rate. Funds — much of them from the NRA — flowed freely. An essay contest, grants to write book reviews, the creation of “Academics for the Second Amendment,” all followed. In 2003, the NRA Foundation provided $1 million to endow the Patrick Henry professorship in constitutional law and the Second Amendment at George Mason University Law School.
This fusillade of scholarship and pseudo-scholarship insisted that the traditional view — shared by courts and historians — was wrong. There had been a colossal constitutional mistake. Two centuries of legal consensus, they argued, must be overturned.
It's time for something to change.

Chicago highlights why gun control doesn't work? No.

I lived in Chicago for just under ten years. I love the city, and I consider it my adoptive home town. One thing I heard over and over, usually from people that didn't live there, was that Chicago was the perfect example of how gun control doesn't work. Guns are banned, but gun crime happens. Often. What it actually tells us is that gun control requires a comprehensive, nationwide policy or it will not work. This pro-gun blogger points out data that says that the majority of traceable guns used in crime in Chicago came from straw purchases. He's right that we do need to prosecute straw purchases better -- but we also need to better prevent those purchases to begin with. The process is just too easy today, and there are too many idiots who will buy guns and give them to other idiots. Including my now-deceased father, who wanted me to buy a particular gun for him, after he was denied its purchase due to having a restraining order against him (if I recall correctly).

Indiana and Wisconsin are an easy drive from Chicago. Friends today in Chicago drive to Indiana just to buy cheaper cigarettes. Of course people are going to do the same to avoid a localized attempt at gun control. It's too easy to get around the rules.

No, the real problem with Chicago and guns is "all those young urban thugs."

False. All the mass school shootings and mass workplace shootings that I know about seem to have been perpetrated by white people, not people of color.

The real problem for somebody in Texas who complains about "urban thuggery in Chicago" isn't worth unpacking here. Let's instead focus on the problem of crime in the poor inner city. This is driven by poverty in the inner cities caused by racism and inequality of opportunity and inequality of infrastructure. Bad schools and no other options. Born into poverty means you're likely to live your life in poverty. Here's one example of how providing access to better schooling and social programs can help to break that cycle.

Let's stop school shootings by arming teachers!

There are a million reasons why this is a dumb, but here's one reason I've rarely heard anything about: Some of those teachers will be people of color, and cops today aren't necessarily all that kind to people of color who carry firearms legally. Just ask Philando Castile. Teachers who are people of color would be scared shitless (and rightly so) if they ever got pulled over for anything at all by the police, while traveling to and from school with their (legal or perhaps even legally mandated) guns. What could go wrong?

Why not call out the car manufacturers for making these killing machines?

Inevitably the argument turns to cars and how they kill more than guns. Even though the numbers are roughly equal, people say that it's fair to pull out numbers for suicide-by-gun, "and it would appear that traffic fatalities, in sheer number, are a much greater blight upon America than non-suicide gun deaths."

Except that we, as a nation, have vastly improved automobile safety over the last fifty years. This article shows some of the highlights. We've tried very hard to make cars safer, and we require training and licensing (and re-licensing!) for anyone who wants to drive a car. We restrict car usage, making it illegal to use without a license or while under the influence of alcohol.

OK, we've called out cars to try to make them safer. Now let's do the same with guns.

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