At least 17 people, including four teenagers, were killed and 41 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago between Friday evening and Monday morning, making it the city’s deadliest weekend of the year.
The weekend’s latest homicide happened shortly after 4 a.m. Monday in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. A 28-year-old man was found with gunshot wounds to the chest and head on the kitchen floor of a second-floor apartment in the 1100 block of West Garfield, according to Chicago Police. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Cook County medical examiner’s office did not immediately release his name.
About 3:15 a.m. Sunday, twin 17-year-old brothers were killed in a drive-by shooting in the Old Town neighborhood on the Near North Side. Edwin and Edward Bryant were standing outside in the 1300 block of North Hudson when a dark vehicle drove by and someone inside opened fire, authorities said. Edwin was shot in the chest and back, while Edward suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and head. They were both taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Edwin was pronounced dead at 3:45 a.m., and Edward died about an hour later. They both lived in the 700 block of South Kedzie.
About 15 minutes earlier, 19-year-old Raqkown Ricks was killed and a 40-year-old man was wounded in a Near West Side shooting. The men were in a car at 2:59 a.m. in the 2100 block of West Jackson when someone walked up and fired shots in their direction, authorities said. The driver tried to speed away, but their vehicle struck a parked vehicle before coming to a rest. Ricks, of the 1200 block of South Sawyer, suffered several gunshot wounds to the back and was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:38 a.m. The older man was shot in the shoulder and also taken to Stroger, where his condition was stabilized. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] White House: Obama ‘Concerned’ But Doesn’t Have Specific Ideas on Addressing Chicago Gun ViolencePosted: August 30, 2016
NARRATIVE, INTERRUPTED: U.S. Becoming Safer Compared to Europe in Both Fatalities and Frequency of Mass Public ShootingsPosted: January 8, 2016
US Now Ranks 11th in Fatalities and 12th in Frequency.
“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.”
– President Obama, announcing his new executive orders on guns, January 7, 2016
This claim is simply not true. Between January 2009 and December 2015, there are 11 European countries with a higher frequency of these mass public shootings than the US, and 10 European countries with a higher rate of deaths from these attacks.
Indeed, over that same period of time, the European Union (EU) suffered 303 deaths from mass public shootings, while the US had 199. In terms of injuries from these attacks the gap was even much greater, with EU countries facing 680 versus just 197 for the US. However, given the EU’s larger population, the per million people fatality rate for the US and the EU as a whole are virtually identical (0.62 for the US and 0.60 for the EU). By contrast, the injury rate in the EU is much higher (0.61 for the US and 1.34 for the EU).
This past year was a particularly bad one for Europe, with 8 Mass Public Shootings versus only 4 for the United States. Indeed, these 8 Mass Public Shootings for Europe in 2015 count for one-third of all their attacks over the entire seven year period of time…(read more)
Even if one puts it in terms of frequency, the president’s statement is still false, with the US ranking 12th compared to European countries.
Click on tables to enlarge them.
Obama can’t do much on guns, but he has mainstreamed a dangerous idea about governing.
David Harsanyi writes:
…The flow of donations to Second Amendment advocacy groups will almost certainly rise, and gun violence — which has fallen considerably over the past 20 years of gun ownership expansion — will not be addressed.
“Perhaps Obama’s most destructive legacy is the mainstreaming of the idea that if Congress ‘fails to act’ it’s okay for the president to make law himself.”
But more consequentially — and this may be the most destructive legacy of the Obama presidency — is the mainstreaming of the idea that if Congress “fails to act” it’s okay for the president to figure out a way to make law himself. Hillary’s already applauded Obama’s actions because, as she put it, “Congress won’t act; we have to do something.” This idea is repeated perpetually by the Left, in effect arguing that we live in direct democracy run by the president (until a Republican is in office, of course). On immigration, on global warming, on Iran, on whatever crusade liberals are on, the president has a moral obligation to act if Congress doesn’t do what he wants.
“If President Bush had instituted a series of restrictions on the abortion industry — since it has a loud, well-organized, and well-funded lobby that wants to make abortions ‘effortlessly’ available — without congressional input, would that have been procedurally okay with liberals? You know, for the children? I don’t imagine so.”
Perhaps Obama’s most destructive legacy is the mainstreaming of the idea that if Congress ‘fails to act’ it’s okay for the president to make law himself.
To believe this, you’d have to accept two things: 1) That Congress has a responsibility to pass laws on the issues that the president desires or else they would be abdicating their responsibility, and 2) That Congress has not already acted.
In 2013, the Senate rejected legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases and to ban certain weapons and ammunition, and they would almost certainly oppose nearly every idea Obama has to curb gun ownership today. Congress has acted, just not in the manner Obama desires.
“Is it really is the work of ‘citizenship’ to cheer on a president who single-handedly constrains Americans from practicing one of their constitutional rights?”
“Change, as always, is going to take all of us,” Obama theorized the other day. “The gun lobby is loud and well organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well organized in our defense of our kids. That’s the work of citizenship — to stand up and fight for the change that we seek.”
Get it? You can be with the loud and reprehensible gun lobby who supports allowing criminals to obtain guns “effortlessly,” or you can stand with the kids. Your choice!
Well, not exactly your choice. As a reactionary, I wonder is it really the duty of “citizenship” to cheer on a president who single-handedly constrains Americans from practicing one of their constitutional rights? If President Bush had instituted a series of restrictions on the abortion industry — since it has a loud, well-organized, and well-funded lobby that wants to make abortions “effortlessly” available — without congressional input, would that have been procedurally okay with liberals? You know, for the children? I don’t imagine so.
…a gun-grabbing “effort” distinguished by its lack of effort. At some point America’s creative class decided that celebrity PSAs should all operate the same way. The cast appears sequentially, usually standing against a uniform blank background, and instead of uttering a sentence or two they each say chunks of sentences that are stitched together to form a statement. You know how this goes. Instead of
Celeb one: I oppose gun violence.
Celeb two: So do I. America needs to change.
Celeb three: Call your congressman today.
You typically get
Celeb one: I
Celeb two: oppose
Celeb three: oppose
Celeb four: I oppose
Celeb five: gun violence
Celeb six: gun violence
Celeb seven: I oppose gun violence
They’ve got the basic shtick down here but all the details are wrong. There’s no broader statement. They’re just repeating a mantra over and over. There’s no uniform background, so there’s not even a pretense that these people have gathered to make their point…(read more)
— Martin O’Malley (@MartinOMalley) December 2, 2015
Greg Sargent reports: Speaking at a rally in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recalled speaking with parents of victims of gun violence and condemned opposition to gun control laws. (Reuters)
When Hillary Clinton rolled out a series of new gun control proposals this week, one of the most newsworthy and controversial ideas she put forth was a vow to use executive action as president to fix the background check system if Congress refused to act.
But the Obama administration has already taken a long, internal look at the same executive-action proposal Clinton has promised to undertake, and has doubts over whether it can be made to work in practical terms, according to current and former senior administration officials.
The administration is still looking at this idea, in the wake of Obama’s announcement after the Oregon shooting that he has directed officials to “scrub” current laws for further actions the executive branch can take against gun violence, those officials say.
But the administration studied the same proposal in 2013 after the Newtown shooting, in the run-up to its release of a number of other executive actions on guns, and decided against including this particular idea out of concerns about its workability, the officials confirm.
The Clinton campaign has pointed to her vow to use executive action to begin closing the long-discussed private seller loophole — which allows for sales conducted by private sellers to proceed without a background check — as proof of her commitment to acting on gun violence. As a Clinton spokesperson put it: “Her willingness to pursue reforms by executive action if necessary is proof of how urgent a priority this is to her.”
But it turns out that this proposal may be harder to actually implement than it might seem. Read the rest of this entry »
The truth? The number of guns in the United States has increased by 62% since 1994 but gun violence has decreased by 49% since 1993.
The More You Politicize Guns, The Weaker Your Case Becomes.
David Harsanyi writes: After the horrific mass shooting at a community college in Oregon, President Obama made an impassioned case that gun violence is “something we should politicize”—and why should this be any different:
“This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”
Everything in that statement is wrong. What happened in Oregon is tragic, and the nation should comfort families and look for reasonable and practical ways to stem violence, but there is only one murderer. Now, if government somehow bolstered, endorsed, or “allowed” the actions of Chris Harper-Mercer—as they might, say, the death of 10,000-plus viable babies each year or the civilian deaths that occur during an American drone action—a person could plausibly argue that we are collectively answerable as a nation.
“For the liberal, every societal problem has a state-issued remedy waiting to be administered over the objections of a reactionary Republican. But just because you have a tremendous amount of emotion and frustration built up around a certain cause doesn’t make your favored legislation any more practical, effective or realistic.”
Then again, when the president asserts Americans are collectively answerable, what he really suggests—according to his own broader argument—is that conservatives who’ve blocked his gun-control legislation are wholly responsible. The problem with that contention, outside of the obvious fact that Republicans never condone the use of guns for illegal violence (in fact, these rampages hurt their cause more than anything) is that Democrats haven’t offered a single bill or idea (short of confiscation) that would impede any of the mass shootings, or overall gun violence. This is not a political choice, because it’s likely there is no available political answer.
For the liberal, every societal problem has a state-issued remedy waiting to be administered over the objections of a reactionary Republican. But just because you have a tremendous amount of emotion and frustration built up around a certain cause doesn’t make your favored legislation any more practical, effective or realistic. It doesn’t change the fact that owning a gun is a civil right, that the preponderance of owners are not criminals, or that there are 300 million guns out there.
And if it’s a political argument you’re offering—and when hasn’t it been?—you’ll need more than the vacuousness of the “this is bad and so we have to do something.” That’s because anti-gun types are never able to answer a simple question: what law would you pass that could stop these shootings?
[VIDEO] Challenged By National Review Reporter, Mark Halperin Can’t Offer Single Policy Solution To Gun ViolencePosted: October 2, 2015
“Joe Biden doesn’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I think it’s fair to say you don’t know how to fix this problem. It’s a very complex question in a country with 300 to 350 million guns on the street.”
Daniel Bassali writes: National Review reporter Charles C. W. Cooke challenged Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin to offer his solutions to gun violence in America Friday morning on Morning Joe. After he insisted lawmakers must act to prevent further mass shooting in America, agreeing with President Obama, Halperin failed to deliver a single solution.
“Well, I think that the finding solutions are short-term in terms of legislation, state and federal,” Halperin said. “Then also, coming up with ideas.”
Halperin did not, however, ever manage to come up with an idea. The co-host of With All Due Respect’s idea was to have lawmakers come up with ideas of their own.
Cooke took issue with the president’s angry words at Washington’s refusal to pass gun control laws so soon after the mass shooting at Umpqua Comminuty College in Roseburg, Oregon. The reporter claimed liberals talk tough as if they have the solutions, but they do not offer specific ideas that could begin a dialogue. Halperin was his case in point.
“The way they talk is as if they have the answer and there are these recalcitrant forces in the country that say ‘no, no, no,’ even though deep down they know their legislation will work. That’s simply not the case. It’s far more complicated than that.”
“Joe Biden doesn’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know how to fix this problem. I think it’s fair to say you don’t know how to fix this problem. It’s a very complex question in a country with 300 to 350 million guns on the street,” Cooke said….(read more)
Source: Washington Free Beacon
On August 28, the NRA presented ATF and FBI data showing Americans have purchased “170 million new guns” since 1991, and violent crime has fallen “51 percent.”
“The overarching message is simple—more guns, less crime. Americans have purchased “170 million new guns” since 1991, and violent crime has decreased as gun ownership has increased.”
This information squares with the findings of a Congressional Research Service (CRS) study covering the slightly shorter period of time from 1994 to 2009.
For those years, CRS found that Americans purchased approximately 118 million firearms, and the 1993 “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” rate of 6.6 per 100,000 fell to 3.6 per 100,000 by the year 2000. It eventually fell all the way to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.
That is more than a 50 percent reduction in “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide.”
Then, in 2009—the year the CRS study ended…(read more)
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not like this hasn’t been documented multiple times. Here are just a few examples of our coverage of the gun rights/gun control debate, civil rights, and crime statistics, followed by external links.
This week, the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), firearms retailers, and private gun owners filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, alleging that its new firearms and ammunition sales tax ordinance is illegal and unenforceable.
“Overdose and non-gun suicide hospitalizations each occurred at a rate more than five times that of those involving a gun; hospitalizations for ‘injuries due to accidents’ had a rate almost seventy-five times greater. With stats like these, it’s clear that anti-gun sentiment is the only thing driving the new taxes, not any real desire to address public health concerns of city residents.”
Earlier this month, Seattle passed the Firearm Tax and Ammunition Tax ordinance which imposes a new $25 sales tax on the retail sales of firearms, plus a per-round sales tax of two to five cents on ammunition. The ordinance is slated to go into effect on January 1, 2016. A failure to pay the tax is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to 364 days, or both.
A city report describes this as a “gun violence tax” that is estimated to generate revenues of $300,000 to $500,000 per year. The report adds, “[e]very effort funded by the revenues of this tax that reduces the probability of gun violence from taking place will save lives and money… Efforts funded by the gun violence tax that mitigate the public health, welfare, and safety impacts of gun violence will benefit this population.”
“In 2011, the Court of Appeals of Washington looked no further than the ‘plain language’ of the preemption statute before concluding that Seattle’s attempt to regulate the possession of firearms was unlawful. The complaint in the new lawsuit refers to this decision and states the City of Seattle is ‘not permitted to pass laws that target the sale of firearms and ammunition through any means.’”
The report fails to disclose any clear relationship between expected new tax receipts and a reduction in violence of any kind. The report asserts only that efforts funded by the tax which “reduce the probability of gun violence from taking place” will benefit Seattle residents, without identifying the nature of the “research, prevention and youth education and employment programs” or how these programs will work to reduce the “probability” of gun violence. (The report does confirm, though, that the City will be able “to track how much revenue is raised each year and analyze the programs to which that revenue is dedicated.”)
“Citizens testifying before the City Council meeting on the new tax included a recent victim of a violent felony who was ‘appalled’ that the City was enacting an illegal tax that would force law-abiding citizens to pay for the impact of gun violence committed by criminals.”
The ordinance itself cites a 2014 study funded by the City of Seattle which reported, among other things, King County hospitalization rates due to a firearm-related injury (“of any intent,” presumably including self-inflicted and accidental injuries in addition to persons who were injured as victims of crime), and hospitalizations for other reasons.
Hospitalizations due to overdoses, non-gun suicides, and non-gun assaults were far more prevalent than gun-related hospitalizations. Overdose and non-gun suicide hospitalizations each occurred at a rate more than five times that of those involving a gun; hospitalizations for “injuries due to accidents” had a rate almost seventy-five times greater. With stats like these, it’s clear that anti-gun sentiment is the only thing driving the new taxes, not any real desire to address public health concerns of city residents. Read the rest of this entry »
Seattle’s tax, which would take effect in January, would add $25 to the price of each firearm sold in the city.
SEATTLE (AP) — Gene Johnson reports: Three gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association, sued the city of Seattle on Monday over its adoption of a so-called “gun violence tax,” a tax on firearms and ammunition designed to help offset
the financial toll of gun violence.
The complaint was filed Monday in King County Superior Court by the NRA, the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, along with two gun owners and two gun shops. It called the tax legally unenforceable because Washington state prohibits local governments from adopting laws related to firearms unless those local ordinances are specifically authorized by the state.
“The ordinance serves only as a piece of propaganda, because the ordinance’s mandates are legally unenforceable. The state of Washington has the exclusive right to regulate the sale of firearms in Washington, and cities may not enact local laws or regulations related to the sale of firearms.”
“The ordinance serves only as a piece of propaganda, because the ordinance’s mandates are legally unenforceable,” the lawsuit said. “The state of Washington has the exclusive right to regulate the sale of firearms in Washington, and cities may not enact local laws or regulations related to the sale of firearms.”
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved the tax this month, along with a companion measure requiring gun owners to file reports if their weapons are stolen or lost. The lawsuit does not challenge the reporting requirements. City Attorney Pete Holmes has argued that the gun-violence tax falls squarely under Seattle’s taxing authority. Read the rest of this entry »
The facts aren’t on their side
Charles C. W. Cooke writes: Angered by the news that American voters are now more supportive of the Second Amendment than they have been in two decades, the New York Daily News’s Mike Lupica used his weekend column to vent. Over the course of 900 words, Lupica lambasted the public for continuing “to protect gun nuts,” chided the “mouth-breathing” NRA for its murderous myopia, and contended emotively that “there are no words” available to describe the horror of “a recent poll that says a majority of Americans believe it is more important to protect the right to own guns than it is for the government to limit access to guns.”
And then, having established his moral bona fides for all to see, he tried to sneak a brazen lie past his audience:
The flyers on the table feature a picture of a beautiful, smiling girl with a pink bow in her hair, with Christmas and her whole life ahead of her until Adam Lanza walked into her school on a Friday morning with an automatic weapon — the kind of gun we are told must be protected or the Second Amendment is turned into a dishrag — and started shooting.
That Lupica would knowingly write these words should be of great concern to anybody who is concerned with the truth. There were no “automatic” weapons used at Sandy Hook. Rather, Adam Lanza used a standard semi-automatic rifle of the sort that millions upon millions of Americans have in their homes. Moreover, Mike Lupica knows this full well, for on every other occasion he has written about the AR-15, he has described it correctly. In March of 2013, Lupica called for the federal government to ban “a semiautomatic rifle called the AR-15.” A few months later, railing against the same weapon, he explained to his readers that AR-15s are “semi-automatic” — and explained not just once, but twice. Elsewhere, he has proven himself to be more than capable of identifying different gun types when it has suited him to do so. Why, then, the change?
The answer, I suspect, lies in this famously dishonest piece of advice from the Violence Policy Center’s radical founder, Josh Sugarmann:
Assault weapons – just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms – are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons – anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
Robert VerBruggen writes:
In a new Voxsplainer on gun violence, Dylan Matthews claims:
Protestations of gun rights supporters aside, public health researchers who study firearms generally agree that increased firearm ownership rates are associated with higher rates of homicide. … Developed countries with more guns generally have more homicide; states within the US with more guns have more homicide…
The two assertions at the end are not true, and the first sentence explains why: If you want to give a good account of a debate about gun statistics, you don’t treat the consensus of “public health researchers” as gospel. The field is notorious for its anti-gun bias, and there’s a whole literature of work outside of it.
It’s true (as Matthews notes) that there are some studies showing guns to be associated with increased homicide once other factors have been statistically “controlled” (a highly subjective process that can be manipulated, even subconsciously, to make the data say whatever the researcher wants them to say). But there is no simple relationship between gun ownership and homicide rates as such, either among developed countries or among states in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »
…The intended message, presumably, is: “We need to keep guns out of the hands of violent men with restraining orders.”
Does this ad succeed in conveying that message? Charles C. W. Cooke doesn’t think so.
“What the video ends up doing instead is demonstrating a) that people who are willing to abduct children and shoot women in the face are not likely to follow the laws (the victim already has a restraining order out against her assailant, which frankly doesn’t seem to be doing much); b) that the victim would have been better off with a gun in her hand than with a phone connected to the police department; and c) that, firearms being a great equalizer between men and women, any rules that make it difficult for potential victims to get hold of guns (and make no mistake: Everytown supports them all) put vulnerable people in danger…”
“There’s a reason I’m admitting to all of this. It’s a kind of public service.”
I received fair warning that this would happen. Even before we were married, my husband announced his general intention to own a gun. A year or so back he started researching the topic more earnestly, and then one afternoon there was a gun sitting on my kitchen table. It was unloaded, of course.
“The thing is, I don’t come from a gun-happy culture. Apart from my husband, I doubt any of my near relations have experience with firearms.”
We had extensive conversations about trigger locks and all the other safety measures. I know that the kids can’t get it, and are in fact far more likely to be injured by stairs or cleaning solutions or sporting equipment. Intuitively it still feels like a menace.
“Gun violence is not some mysterious malady that simply befalls us against our will, like a cancer or a natural disaster.”
The thing is, I don’t come from a gun-happy culture. Apart from my husband, I doubt any of my near relations have experience with firearms. Mind you, I was raised by conservatives, but Mormons trend towards a communitarian, good-government brand of conservatism. They’re rarely drawn to the more suspicious and individualistic culture of the N.R.A. If my parents had any gun-owning friends when I was growing up, I wasn’t aware.
Nancy Keaton writes: The American Public Health Association is now targeting veterans and their guns. Several months ago I wrote an article warning that the mental health discussion after Sandy Hook could lead to the back door to gun control.
And now here we are. Obama is using the American Public Health Association as a pawn to go after veterans and their guns under the guise of mental health.
I have a strong interest in the field of health.
I even considered going into public health at one point.
So I was very excited a few years back when I got to participate in a research project and present it at the APHA Conference.
In the fall 2013 edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), Jane M. Orient, M.D., takes apart the long standing gun control advocate arguments of many medical groups to show that guns do not cause crime, people do.
Orient looks at “advocacy campaigns” for “treating gun violence” that have been sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Physicians (ACP) and says these groups have fashioned gun violence as a “health problem” rather than a “crime problem.” In so doing, they have avoided the real causes of violence and to pursue federal funding for research from an advocacy perspective.
According to Orient, in many cases these and other medical groups have missed the real causes behind crime because their advocacy often comes with “a political agenda” attached. Read the rest of this entry »
In a real life demonstration of scholar John Lott’s maxim “more guns, less crime,” violent crime has dropped in Virginia as gun ownership has increased.
According to a Fox News report, firearms sales in Virginia were 16 percent higher in 2012 over 2011 and violent crime went down by 5 percent.
Perhaps the significance of this is best seen in the raw numbers: In 2012 licensed gun dealers sold 490,119 guns in their state, while the number of violent crimes for the same time period was 4,378.
Virginia Commonwealth University assistant professor Thomas R. Baker commented on the numbers: “This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don’t necessarily lead to more crime.”
Ms. Magazine’s Heidi Yewman writes about her harrowing experience obtaining a Glock pistol and a concealed carry permit. You can almost hear her labored breathing and see the sweat drip as she writes about it.
What’s got me jittery this morning is the 9mm Glock that’s holstered on my hip. Me, lead gun policy protester at the 2010 Starbuck’s shareholder meeting. Me, a board member of the Brady Campaign. Me, the author of a book about the impact of gun violence, Beyond the Bullet.
Yes, I bought a handgun and will carry it everywhere I go over the next 30 days. I have four rules: Carry it with me at all times, follow the laws of my state, only do what is minimally required for permits, licensing, purchasing and carrying, and finally be prepared to use it for protecting myself at home or in public.
So, in exercising your Second Amendment rights you’re similar to thousands of fine Texas women for 30 days? Ok, but there’s no reason to be worked up about it.
And she really is worked up about it.
I started my 30-day gun trial with a little window-shopping. I visited a gun show and two gun dealers. I ended up buying a Glock 9mm handgun from Tony, a gun dealer four miles from my house. I settled on this model because it was a smallish gun and because Tony recommended it for my stated purposes of protecting myself and my home.
It was obvious from the way I handled the gun that I knew nothing about firearms. Tony sold it to me anyway.
What else was he supposed to do? As an adult, it’s Yewman’s responsibility to become familiar with the product she is buying. This may strike some as too basic to bother writing, but gun dealers do not exist to stop adults from buying guns. That isn’t their job. Every gun dealer I have ever dealt with has been more than happy to explain anything and everything, if you ask. Gun range operators will show you how to hold and fire your weapon. They take the mystery out of it all. If you ask. Yewman shouldn’t imply any blame on the dealer for her own choice to protest something with which she is wholly unfamiliar, and then buy that product before becoming familiar with it.
Back to Yewman’s 30-day harrowing ordeal.
The whole thing [buying the gun] took 7 minutes. As a gratified consumer, I thought, “Well, that was easy.” Then the terrifying reality hit me, “Holy hell, that was EASY.” Too easy. I still knew nothing about firearms.
But that never stopped her from protesting them and campaigning to outlaw them. What does this say about the leaders of the anti-Second Amendment movement?
Tony told me a Glock doesn’t have an external safety feature, so when I got home and opened the box and saw the magazine in the gun I freaked. I was too scared to try and eject it as thoughts flooded my mind of me accidentally shooting the gun and a bullet hitting my son in the house or rupturing the gas tank of my car, followed by an earth-shaking explosion. This was the first time my hands shook from the adrenaline surge and the first time I questioned the wisdom of this 30-day experiment.
Shooting a car’s gas tank will not cause an explosion. That’s cop show stuff. It may cause a dangerous leak, but you still need something to ignite the fuel. Modern firearms like Glock pistols are difficult if not impossible to discharge accidentally. Impossible, if they’re not loaded, and this one was definitely not loaded. More on that below. Read the rest of this entry »
In the past few days, Forbes writer Andy Greenberg broke a pair of dramatic stories on Cody Wilson’s quest to build an untraceable plastic gun using commercially available 3D-printing technology. First, Greenberg publishedexclusive photos of the completed firearm, then he reported on a successful test firing of a live .380 cartridge.
Although the technology is still in its infancy, Wilson’s innovation has already sparked heated debate. Some gun rights advocates (including Wilson) argue this means current gun laws will soon be obsolete. They welcome the fact that home hobbyists may soon be able to build functioning firearms without any background check or government record. Others are alarmed, concerned that this would enable criminals to more easily obtain firearms. Congressman Steve Israel has already stated his intent to modify current laws to ban such guns.
However, Congressman Israel may be too late. Once thousands of motivated hobbyists start downloading open source gun designs and posting their refinements, we’ll likely see rapid technical advances. But Cody Wilson’s real impact on America may not be technological but political — and in a good way.
Government will likely be unable to suppress this application of 3D-printing technology. True, they could attempt to outlaw the possession of such untraceable guns, but that would be as ineffective as current laws banning the possession of marijuana. Similarly, the government could attempt to require 3D-printers be installed with special software that only allows them to build objects from data files certified as “approved” by the authorities. But given how quickly hackers routinely “jailbreak” software restrictions on smartphones, the same would likely happen to software restrictions on 3D-printers. In other words, the genie is probably already out of the bottle.
Nonetheless, how likely is an attempted government crackdown on 3D-printed guns? One clue comes from ATF agent Charles Houser, head of their National Tracing Center Division. In a recent CNBC interview, Houser stated that there was no “legitimate purpose” to making an untraceable gun and that seeking to build one indicated “criminal intent.”
However, current law already allows home hobbyists to build their own firearms provided they are for personal use only (and not for sale). Such guns are already “untraceable.” 3D-printing doesn’t change that basic fact — it merely allows a wider range of hobbyists without specialized machine shop skills to do what’s already legal.
The unease expressed over 3D-printed guns mirrors similar unease following the adoption of widespread cryptography for secure communications. Some opponents were concerned that ordinary Americans could use this technology to engage in criminal activities undetected by the government. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration pushed for the adoption of hardware backdoors to allow government to read otherwise secure e-mail as it saw fit. Even now, the FBI continues to seek wider powers to monitor citizens’ electronic communications on the grounds it’s necessary to stop terrorism.
Yes, the government has a legitimate role in stopping the misuse of cryptography for evil purposes, such as terrorist plots or the dissemination of digital contraband such as child pornography or pirated software. But that should not be a pretext for giving the government excessive power over innocuous private communications.
Similarly, government has a legitimate role in stopping gun crime. But this should not be a pretext for restricting 3D-printing technology.
Furthermore, University of Chicago professor (and co-author of the bestsellerFreakonomics) Steve Levitt has noted that most proposed gun controls have minimal impact on gun crime. One of the few ideas that does work is enhanced prison sentences for crimes committed with a gun. According to Levitt, the gun laws that work are ones “where you’re not tying it to the gun itself, you’re tying it to the use of guns that you don’t want.” This makes perfect sense. The government should not punish gun ownership by responsible adults, nor legitimate sporting or self-defense uses. Instead, the government should punish the misuse of a gun by criminals.
Citizens do not have a general obligation to communicate with others in a way that the government can readily understand. An honest person can have many legitimate personal or business reasons for private communications. Most Americans recognize this is not a sign of “criminal intent.” If the government has a specific need to monitor someone’s private electronic communications, the burden of proof should be on them to demonstrate their need for a warrant for appropriate wiretapping. Otherwise, anyone using cryptography should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Similarly, honest citizens should not have a general obligation to disclose to the government what firearms they’ve built or bought, provided they are for honest purposes. An honest person may wish to keep this information private to avoid becoming the target of thieves or unwanted political attacks. A desire for private firearms ownership is not proof of “criminal intent.” And if the government has a specific concern that someone is planning a crime with a gun (or any other tool), the burden of proof should be on the government prior to any search or other invasion of his privacy. Otherwise, anyone owning an “untraceable” 3D-printed gun should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Wilson’s innovation could thus spark a much-needed re-examination of American gun laws, including the current paradigm of imposing ever-increasing restrictions on millions of honest gun owners in an attempt to stop relatively fewer bad guys from committing gun crimes. By making it harder (if not nearly impossible) for the government to regulate gun possession and transfers, his development could move the government to instead (properly) focus its efforts on punishing gun misuse.
That is why I’m encouraged by the development of 3D-printed guns. Not because I want bad guys committing more gun crimes. But because I hope it sparks some vigorous discussions on deeper themes such as “innocent until proven guilty” and the proper scope of government. If enough people start debating these questions, Cody Wilson will have done America a real service.
Political trends come and go in response to events. Gun control was the rage during the Clinton administration, but over the past decade or so it became an obsolete cause. After the horrific crimes in Newtown and Aurora, though, it’s staging a comeback.
One thing hasn’t changed: The agenda includes mostly measures that will have little or no effect on the problems they are supposed to address. They are Potemkin remedies—presentable facades with empty space behind them.
This is something that supporters as well as opponents labor to conceal. Treating them as serious allows them both to posture for their own advantage.
So on Wednesday, President Barack Obama unveiled a raft of executive actions and proposed changes in federal law intended to prevent both mass shootings and chronic gun violence. A few are innocuous and reasonably promising, like improving databases for background checks and helping “ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.”
But the most notable ones fall into three categories. In the category of “useless” is the ban on “assault weapons,” which has been tried before with no evident effect. The administration is fond of demonizing a style of firearm that the gun industry likes to glamorize.
What they are talking about, though, are ordinary rifles tricked out and blinged up to resemble something else: military arms designed for the battlefield. The “weapons of war” Obama wants to ban do nothing that other legal weapons won’t do just as quickly and just as destructively.
Most criminals have no need of them. In 2011, reports The New York Times, 6,220 people were killed with handguns—compared to 323 by rifles of any kind, including “assault weapons.”
In the “probably useless” realm is a ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which was part of the 1994 assault weapons ban. A mass shooter can overcome the restriction by carrying multiple magazines or multiple guns—as many of them do anyway. The notion that an attacker can be subdued when he stops to reload works better in movies than in real life, where it is virtually unknown…