SOME THOUGHTS ON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

President Obama
President Obama at a forum on gun violence. I think he’s partly right.

This is the kind of blog post that usually gets me in trouble.  Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  It is bothering me.

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while–Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451.

I’ve been contemplating the tragedy of school shootings.  I am very bothered by the almost faddish development of such acts.  What I don’t know is if enough people are.  It will not be until we’re bothered enough that something actually will change for the better.  Until the pain of the existing situation exceeds the pain of change, nothing will be done.

They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety–Benjamin Franklin

The first reaction is to take away all guns.  But would that really solve the problem?  Guns and firearms are an important part of not only our nations legacy but of individuals rights (2nd Amendment, anyone?) to protection.  Liberty should not come at the expense security.  My personal feeling is that people want too much security.  I also think that guns are really only part of the problem.

I grew up in the South with guns everywhere, and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren’t taught the value of life–Samuel L. Jackson

Me too Sam.  In fact, I remember very well people driving pickup trucks to school with gun racks holding loaded rifles and shotguns.  It never once crossed our mind to kill anyone.  Guns were not a problem.  They were a tool.  Something else is going on here, and the value of life might well be part of it.  Violence is the logical result of a society taught to believe that a human being is just another animal and there is no such thing as eternal judgment.

The Carrying of Firearms Strictly Prohibited–Dodge City, Kansas public ordinance sign, 1878

It is foolish to believe that there have never been gun laws.  It seems to me that, though not a fix all, better and more restrictive gun laws would help.  The problem is legislators go at it the wrong way.  They pass laws outlawing certain guns, clips, or ammunition.  I think we’ve seen that is ineffective.  A better solution would be to regulate who can legally own a firearm.

The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people. It’s not the only country that has psychosis. And yet, we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than any place else–President Obama after a school shooting in Oregon

The President is right.  Crazy is a universal constant.  Where he is wrong, though, is the context.  The United States has a large population that is prosperous and free.  That sets us apart, from say, crazy people in China (not free), crazy people in Uganda (poor), or crazy people in Norway (small).  When these factors are combined, the potential for crazed violence grows exponentially.  Now, add to that caffeine driven diets, irregular sleep patterns, and drugs–both legal and illegal.  The result is that the United States does have a unique situation that defies comparison.

I suppose, in summary, I come to these thoughts.

1.  Our current gun laws are insufficient.

2.  Something is lacking in what we teach at school.  It is young boys doing this, not middle-aged depressed moms or dads who want to protect themselves.

3.  Admit that a purely materialist worldview fails.

4.  Stop acting like some people aren’t crazy.  Mainstreaming mentally incompetent people is a detriment to the well-being of society.

 I do not pretend to have all the answers to such a huge issue.  I would love to hear what anyone else has to say about it, so long as the discourse is civil.

 

 

image from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/obama-speaks-gun-violence-u-s-schools-article-1.1824890

 

 

26 thoughts on “SOME THOUGHTS ON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS

  1. Very thoughtful and balanced. While I agree with 3, of course, the nation doesn’t seem on the point of admitting it. I think we can sell the other three though even to a nation of non-believers. It is worth a try.

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  2. 1. Our current gun laws are insufficient.

    2. Something is lacking in what we teach at school. It is young boys doing this, not middle-aged depressed moms or dads who want to protect themselves.

    3. Admit that a purely materialist worldview fails.

    4. Stop acting like some people aren’t crazy. Mainstreaming mentally incompetent people is a detriment to the well-being of society.

    1. – Is the law against using a firearm insufficient ? or Is it the law that tells people they can’t take firearms certain places insufficient?

    How about we admit that our laws against violence are insufficient to stop people from doing violence?
    See when we open up the definition; it becomes readily apparent that we can not legislate our way out of this issue.

    2. Teach at SCHOOL?
    How about what we teach at home, in our communities, in our media? When has it been the school’s job to teach morality or ethics?
    Too many people in my opinion fail to actually parent their children instead choosing to hand off that responsibility to strangers.

    3. I agree. But it isn’t enough to admit it; we have to work to change it. We have to stop the ego inflating at all cost mentality. We have to get back to a shared cultural value that is really based on shared values and is enforced.

    4. Agree. We do have to exercise caution to make sure the process of involuntary commitment isn’t used arbitrarily though…given the corruption of our government — legal and legislative; the ability to define mental illness and put people away is a very dangerous power.

    A better solution would be to regulate who can legally own a firearm.

    I’ll agree to this IF and ONLY IF the same principles are applied to other rights; the right to procreate (how many moms drown their kids, how many dads abuse their children), religion — yeah, let’s talk about the history of religious violence, speech — want your fingerprints, photo, background check and license to be good for only 5 years like a concealed handgun license?

    We already regulate who can legally own a firearm; mentally ill, felons, those addicted, etc. What other requirement would you put on it?

    Bob S.
    3 Boxes of BS

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    1. thanks bob for reading and commenting. so, on point 1–i agree, legislation is not the root of these issues. i see your point about violence and not being able to stop violence through legislation. it is a valid point and something that needs to be considered. however, i hope that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything because it seems some things could be done. 2–again, you and i agree on the substance of your argument. education begins primarily in the home. nevertheless, morality and ethics should be taught at school as well, and i perceive that is a good place to teach it. are you arguing against teaching morality and ethics at school? or are you arguing against public schools in general? 3–true. i’d like to think there are many of us who are, every day and in our own way, trying to help our culture embrace a better worldview. 4-we sort of regulate who can own a firearm. it would be more accurate i think to say we regulate who can carry a firearm. many states allow a concealed carry permit as long as pass the criminal background check and have never been institutionalized. it is a passive system. something a little more proactive would probably be beneficial. you ask what requirement i would put on it, and i think i would go the step of saying that a person should have to prove, perhaps with witnesses and a doctors letter, that he or she is stable and in command of their faculties before being allowed to own a firearm (not just allowed to carry one). i recognize that is a big departure from laws today but in my honest opinion it would probably help.
      bob, again thanks for the discourse. even though we probably don’t agree on more than half of this, your reasoned and polite conversation is appreciated.

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    2. I have to agree on #2, the parent is the primary teacher of their child, regardless how many hours are spent at school. A teacher can teach but only if the student comes from a home that encourages it. Teachers and parents need to work closely together. It should not fall completely on either hands, though parents do hold more weight and influence on a child than a teacher that is only in the child’s life some 170 days of the year.

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      1. the time allotment thing is true carlie, but i think the main reason parents are the primary teachers of children is because that is what it means to be a parent. parents teach their children about life, faith, citizenship, morals, ethics–all the important things. schools should reinforce the messages already being taught in the home, and provide a social environment in which the things learned can be practiced.
        thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. Jamie,

    Since the number format works well; let’ continue 🙂

    #1 , i hope that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything because it seems some things could be done

    We can do things but is the focus going to be on the tool or the violence? Research Bath Township Michigan school tragedy for example. Or Alfred McMurrah Federal Building.

    I think our legislation is focused on the wrong aspects in our society. We spend Billions trying to enforce inane drug laws. We spend billions and hundreds of thousands of hours inspecting businesses instead of controlling our borders, catching criminals, etc. Look up the clearance rates in this country — how often various crimes are solved. Even Homicide is abysmal — leading the way at 66% clearance.

    Let’s focus on violence and locking away those who have proven; through their actions, they are unable to abide by the strictures of society. Let’s focus on crimes with real victims (unlike prostitution, gambling, etc) and put real effort into a.) rehabilitation of first time offenders or b.) keeping repeat violent offenders in jail.
    Most murderers have at least one felony conviction on their record prior to the homicide; doesn’t it make sense to jam the revolving prison system door?

    #2 nevertheless, morality and ethics should be taught at school as well, and i perceive that is a good place to teach it.

    Who’s morality or ethics? Mine, your, Ted Bundy, Osama Bin Laden?
    Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach the study of morality or ethics but I really don’t want George Granola teaching my grandkids “free love and do what is right for you” or Harry the Wannabe Hitler teaching “do what it takes for purity” either.
    How does it make sense to let 1 to 8 teachers, who change each year teach our kids such important subjects?

    Our society has balkanized our cultures and values to the point we barely share any. Let’s teach our kids ethics and values, morality, right from wrong and let the teachers concentrate on the sciences, the maths, history, etc. Maybe if the teachers were more focused on those subjects we wouldn’t have kids getting out of high school that are illiterate or unable to join today’s technological work force.

    #4 –something a little more proactive would probably be beneficial. you ask what requirement i would put on it, and i think i would go the step of saying that a person should have to prove, perhaps with witnesses and a doctors letter, that he or she is stable and in command of their faculties before being allowed to own a firearm (not just allowed to carry one).

    Again– please tell me why firearms are being singled out yet more people die from preventable medical conditions, motor vehicle related deaths etc.

    I’m willing to support your requirements IF they are applied to every right listed in the Bill of Rights. Want to avoid unreasonable search and siezure; prove you are competent to exercise that right.

    Want to have kids — good grief do we ever need competency tests, mental health exams etc !
    How about blogging?
    Here you are exercising a right that has killed more people through out history than firearms (Mein Kampf, Communist Manifesto, the Bible, the Koran) and yet you don’t want to apply the same requirements?

    And why — not because we are breaking the law but because we might break the law some day?
    How about we improve our mental health system so people can get the help they need and still keep their rights?
    How about we make it easier for families to involuntarily commit people who are a danger to themselves and society. The litany of spree killers who have mental health conditions that were known and serious is almost the entirety of recent spree killers.

    So, I have a question — how could you prove, with witnesses and a doctor’s letter, that you are competent to exercise your rights?
    Would you like to have to do that?

    Bob S.

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    1. hey bob–yes, the number format works so . . .
      1–i fully agree with keeping repeat violent offenders imprisoned, and i agree that rehabilitation can be effective in some cases but not all. i do disagree, however, with the concept of a victimless crime, especially prostitution. my recent study of sex crime and child trafficking in this country lead me to believe that more, not less, law enforcement should be dedicated to discovering women and children who are, in effect, enslaved.
      2–again, i agree with your premise that morality and ethics flow from the family (and, for me, the faith community). i also agree that, in large, the education system has failed. that was a part of my original blog post–something is missing. more security is not really the answer here but instead a focus upon the humanities in school as well as the sciences.
      4–firearms are singled out in respect to the horrific effects they are having in school settings. yes, i get your point from history or religion. one only needs to see what is happening in iraq with isis and so forth to see how powerfully destructive ideology can be. my own particular faith of Christianity is not innocent in this regard either, much to our shame. but the issue at hand is how to curb the present violence. and yes, i think, there is a difference between free speech, assembly, the press, and other protected rights and the right to possess firearms. when insane people speak, no one dies (unless they take further action) but when an insane person pulls a trigger, their liberty has now made a permanent scar on another person’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
      completely agree, again, with the need for stronger options for those who know their family members are a danger.
      now, as to proving sanity and stability in owning a firearm, i only point to the necessity to proving competency and stability in driving a car. a person has a right to buy a car, but no right to drive it. i don’t know that the doctor bit is where i would absolutely go to on this, but it is just a thought. i firmly believe in the right to own a firearm. what i don’t believe in is irresponsibility. the founders of our republic assumed that citizens would exercise responsibility in civil affairs. i think that we have been irresponsible in at least three areas–laws, education/worldview, and the monitoring of those who are mentally unstable.

      again, thanks for the dialogue. i appreciate it because it makes me think, and i can tell that you are well informed.

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  4. “A better solution would be to regulate who can legally own a firearm.”

    We do regulate who can legally possess or buy a firearm. It is a serious Federal felony for a felon to possess a firearm. You have to answer “No” when you buy a firearm from a licensed dealer to questions about having been committed to a mental institution or addicted to certain substances.

    These laws work with people who obey the law.

    “Our current gun laws are insufficient.”

    And how could our laws be improved, bearing in mind that some people will not obey them no matter what? In every case where a person takes a firearm into a school to kill people they are breaking a serious Federal law and they don’t care.

    I did however write about a proposal for univeral background checks that I think has some merit. I don’t claim it will solve all problems but it might help a little.

    Universal Background Checks
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/universal-background-checks/

    One more thought on schools – imagine this. Let’s post “Gun Free Zone” signs on banks and advertise that no employee in the bank is allowed to be armed, including whatever guards you have.

    Isn’t that what we do with schools? Which do we value more, money or kids? By the way we protect money it seems maybe we need to rethink the “Gun Free School Zone Act” and instead work to arm many responsible people in schools so as to guarantee a future Adam Lanza has a good chance of ending up dead before he kills very many people.

    Personally I would put a gun cabinet in the principal or secretary’s office (close to the main entrance) and stock it with a couple loaded AR-15 carbines with 30 rounds clips, all loaded and ready to go. Have the police come by and check them for maintenance and safe storage from time to time and give some instruction to the folks who might be called on to use them.

    Do those things and I bet you school shootings would slow down considerably. The cowards who do them often want to die, but only by their own hand. Being shot down and killed by potential victims takes away from their fantasy of power.

    The real idea is not to gun down some future Lanza. The real idea is to deter him from ever considering coming to your school.

    regards,

    lwk

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    1. lwk–thanks for reading and commenting. so, there is much you write that i agree with, and i liked your blog post as well. yes, there are boxes to check when the background check is done for the purchase of the firearm, but they could be more thorough and more proactive–what medications are you taking, are you under a doctors care, etc… having said that, your over-arching statement is still true, laws only matter to law abiding citizens. that is why, i think, there is more going on here than just guns. guns are a part of it, but not even the most significant part. it is the culture and i’m not certain most people who lament these tragedies are willing to say that.
      i am a little like you, in that i don’t think anything i’ve said is a total solution, but i appreciate the dialogue. my despair comes from the fact that this will continue to be dragged out to extremes on both sides. i don’t want people coming to collect all the firearms, but i also don’t want a world where bus drivers have to arm themselves.
      as to security at schools, maybe that is something that could be considered. however, until we think about how to address the reason why these young boys are doing this, we’ve missed the point.

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  5. Jamie,
    I really appreciate this blog. I agree on 99.9 percent of what you said, the .01 would probably be minute details. I think education is seriously lacking in the humanities and old school ethics/ philosophy and the problems lie not in the physical gun but in the lack of mental health recognition as well as the lack of the aforementioned education. Being the crazy liberal granola eating hippie that I am I do not actually want all guns taken away. Yes, the give me the hee-bee-gee-bees (is that how you spell that?) but I recognize just because I do not like something does not mean it should be outlawed. However, something must be done to help and something proactive needs to happen. I may get some unhappy comments from this but I like the idea of background checks looking at mental health issues. I do not know how that would work but that is for the folks that specialize in that to figure out. My end sentiment is that something must happen but if they put guns in the schools I will be homeschooling even though I would rather not. There was a recent story of a shooting where a man took his concealed weapon to fight the baddies off and was shot before he could help (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/vegas-cop-killers/two-cops-three-others-killed-las-vegas-shooting-spree-n125766). More guns, for example in schools, does not solve the problem just as fewer guns won’t necessarily solve it. Thank you again for writing this, for being balanced and methodical in your argument, and for being constructive about the debate.

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    1. well, thank you sarah for reading and commenting. i think there are very few people in our society who want guns altogether abolished. those people exist, certainly, but most come somewhere in the middle. they want reasonable laws but they also want responsible owners. i think schools are another matter altogether and quite honestly, separate from most of the gun debate. the people who who have done these terrible things would not have been stopped by any gun law. the only thing that might have caught one or two of them was a more aggressive background check system.
      i agree with you that there should be really smart people out there with brilliant ideas about how to fix this from all angles: the education, gun, and mental health. my fear is that the politicians and ideologues on both sides will not listen to them and instead we’ll just end up with more shootings.

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  6. yes, i think, there is a difference between free speech, assembly, the press, and other protected rights and the right to possess firearms. when insane people speak, no one dies (unless they take further action) but when an insane person pulls a trigger, their liberty has now made a permanent scar on another person’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

    Jamie,

    I hate to call you out on a logical fallacy but you are making a false equivalency here.

    “No one dies (unless they take further action) – just like owning and bearing a firearm; NO ONE dies (unless they take further action) — right?

    But that isn’t good enough — you want people to prove they are sane just to exercise one right (barring further action) but not to exercise another barring further action.

    Having kids is a great example of this — the vast majority of parents are normal(ish), sane (largely) and good parents. Yet you don’t see the need to have them prove their sanity because a very small percent kill or hurt others.

    Each year there are approximately 10,000 homicides and less than 500,000 firearm related violent crimes. These are committed by various people and there are wide ranges in the estimates of gun owners; let’s go with the lower scale and say 55,000,000.
    Even if we posit each firearm related crime was committed by a different person; that means 500,000 divided by 55,000,000 times 100 (to express as a percent) approximately 0.9% of all gun owners were guilty of a crime. Think that many parents abuse their children, hurt them, kill them each year?

    So, please help me to understand why firearms are singled out so differently when cars actually are involved in more deaths then firearms. Help me understand why firearms when more kids drown each year than are accidentally killed by firearms. It doesn’t make sense to me.

    Not when the murderer in Bath Township used dynamite to kill 30 kids and 6 adults – more than Sandy Hook. Not when the McMurrah Federal building was blown up killing 19 kids — nearly the same amount as Sandy Hook…..the issue isn’t firearms but violence.

    Prove to me you are sane enough to vote, Prove to me you are sane enough not to call for the extermination of gun owners or those you declare subhuman. Prove to me you are sane enough not to drive your car through a building….or use the gasoline in it to kill.

    Next….let’s talk about your ideas being a one way street.

    Let’s assume for a minute I support your ideas; what do I get out of it?
    If I’m going to be vetted for sanity, stability, etc; I think we should remove the restrictions on fully automatic firearms, short barreled rifles and shotguns, suppressors, etc.
    I also think that if I’m vetted for stability; I should be able to carry my firearm in just about every place (jails, court rooms prohibited for example) and just about every state — just like my driver’s license.

    Deal?

    Bob S.

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    1. bob–thanks for the opportunity to continue this dialogue.
      in relation to free speech, the further action i mean is other people being incited by the speech of the hypothetical crazy person. in the instance of the firearm, all it takes is the insanity of the original individual. i do not think that it is a logical fallacy to differentiate between the effects of speech and the effects of firearms.
      the parenting analogy is interesting. if someone suspected that i abuse my children, then i very well might have to prove that i do not, or my children would be (and should be) taken way. surely you are not advocating for no type of child welfare system?
      as per the car comparison, i think the reason is about percentages. you do a good job with these percentages, but automobiles are used in their intended function far more every day than firearms, and when deaths do occur, it is almost never (but not always) purposeful. the percentage of tragedy to firearm use is far greater than tragedy to automobile use. yet, cars are regulated with safety devices and requirements for operation. likewise, we find that you cannot drive your car anywhere you want. many roads are cut off to the public by government and private agencies–so using your own logic, why would guns not likewise be restricted in certain areas?
      as to certification of sanity, something must change in the way we understand access to firearms. you may well be right, bob, that the problem is the regulation of insane people more than the regulation of weapons. i do not stand on that hill as one to die on other than to suggest we’ve made an error somewhere along the way, whether it be in the regulation of weapons or the oversight of people who.
      again, thanks for contributing to this dialogue.

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      1. Jamie,

        if someone suspected that i abuse my children, then i very well might have to prove that i do not, or my children would be (and should be) taken way. surely you are not advocating for no type of child welfare system?

        I’m going to highlight something you said to make sure I have it absolutely correct. Please let me know if you did not mean it this way.

        if someone suspected that i abuse my children

        So if someone suspected I might be a violent thug or mentally ill; I might have to prove I’m not.
        So that leaves either one of two possibilities based on your approach

        1.) You think all gun owners might be breaking the law
        or
        2.) you are advocating a different legal standard based on the desire to own a firearm.

        Which is it Sir?

        I’m not advocating for the absence of a child welfare system. But based on your approach; shouldn’t we make people PROVE before they have kids they are sane and safe parents?

        Shouldn’t we enact additional laws above and beyond (finger printing, background checks, approval of law enforcement, etc) for parents?

        but automobiles are used in their intended function far more every day than firearms, and when deaths do occur, it is almost never (but not always) purposeful.

        Sorry to disagree with you there but deaths due to motor vehicles are almost always the result of a purposeful act. Maybe semantics — not every one cleaning a firearm means to kill someone by accident — but there is purposeful action involved every time – drunk driving is a great example. Multiple purposeful acts and violations of the law.
        Distracted driving (I was just texting) is another — there is a purposeful act behind every death.

        cars are regulated with safety devices and requirements for operation.

        And why is that? Because unlike firearms cars are more likely to suffer mechanical defects. The issue isn’t firearms are suddenly turning off or shooting more times then the person intended like cars do….but of the very deliberate acts I mentioned earlier. I don’t oppose additional safety devices on firearms; I just don’t want to see laws mandating them.

        ikewise, we find that you cannot drive your car anywhere you want. many roads are cut off to the public by government and private agencies–so using your own logic, why would guns not likewise be restricted in certain areas?

        And likewise I can let my 8 year old granddaughter drive my car on my private property, on a race track. I can buy a car without governmental approval. If you want to use the car analogy, you have to take the good and bad with it.

        I can drive my car across all 50 states on one license – can’t do that with a firearm. I can have any size car I want with any size engine, passenger capacity, etc — many states limit firearms.

        so using your own logic, why would guns not likewise be restricted in certain areas?

        They already ARE !! Can’t carry into a school, can’t carry into a jail or prison, can’t carry into courthouses. We already have those laws. Every notice that most spree killings happen where there are legal prohibitions against carrying firearms ??

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      2. bob–this has been a good dialogue. let me see if i can get to the heart of where you are coming from. it is your perception that gun rights should be perceived as every other right–speech, assembly, religion, press and so forth. you logically carry that belief out to its end that any law about what type of firearm a person can own, carry, buy or trade is an affront to that right?
        is that correct? i’m being serious here, and do not want to misunderstand or misrepresent or belittle your view.

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  7. Bob, respectfully I have issue with comparing cars to guns in destructive power. The number you post do not like but you are comparing apples to oranges when it comes to the object itself. Guns were built to hurt something, whether it be duck, deer, person, or clay pigeon. However a car was built for transportation, to move people. While care can cause death when used improperly and guns can do the same that is about where the logical similarities end. Laws for the two should be handled completely different because they are completely different things.

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    1. Sarah,

      First off, intent can not be transferred. A car is designed not to harm people but it certainly is used that way quite often. We don’t blame the car, we blame the person using it.
      So, firearms are designed not to ‘kill people’ (intent) but to expel a projectile. What people do with that is up to them.

      Millions of people (55,000,000) gun owners didn’t use a firearm to murder someone yesterday. Just like Millions of car owners didn’t. Yet you don’t hear me calling for sanity checks on cars like our host is calling for on firearms.

      Second, that very useful ability to hurt others is one of the reasons people do own firearms. Kleck and Gertz conducted a survey (supported by 16 other surveys) that found up to 2,500,000 defensive gun uses (DGU) per year. A DGU is where someone uses the threat or presence of a firearm to stop/prevent a crime.
      A firearm allows my 75 year old mother in law, my 25 year old daughter or my brother in law with severe medical conditions to be the equal to one or more physically stronger attackers. Why would we want to put people at a disadvantage and let the strong rule over the weak?

      Laws for the two should be handled completely different because they are completely different things.

      I agree in a general sense and that is the point I’m trying to make with our generous host. We do differentiate between objects; no one has to show an ID, get a background check before they buy a car from a dealer but we require that for firearms.
      People can buy a car at 16 but not a firearm. We do treat things different.

      What is suggested is we go further — we treat our RIGHTS differently. Why should I have to prove my sanity to in order to exercise my “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” but not my “Right to Free Speech” or “Religion”?

      Step away from the idea that ‘firearms are different’ and think in terms of our rights. Would we put up with having to renew a permit every 5 years simply to have friends over to our home (right of peaceful assembly) — even when you do nothing illegal at that assembly?
      Yet that is exactly what is required in some states simply to own a firearm.

      Bob S.

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  8. Wow….Typo issues. Sorry, Bob. That sentence should read, “The numbers you post do not lie….” Sorry. Too early in the morning with a six month old for me to have cognitive abilities at their fullest. 🙂

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  9. Jamie,

    bob–this has been a good dialogue. let me see if i can get to the heart of where you are coming from.

    I agree it has been an interesting and good dialogue. I think if we can get to the heart’ of where each person stands it helps greatly. Too often we talk past each other.

    it is your perception that gun rights should be perceived as every other right–speech, assembly, religion, press and so forth.

    Yes, If you want a sanity check on the Right to Keep And Bear Arms; shouldn’t that same type of restriction be applied to all other rights? We are talking about applying the principles of law across all of our rights. It would be ridiculous to say “Well, that person didn’t have a 4th Amendment PERMIT; so we stopped and searched him for no reason” or “Hey, She didn’t complete her 5th Amendment Training class and get her license renewed so she can’t claim the right to remain silent”.

    Nor should prior restraint “Unless the government approves of the church (Cali/Mass. have approved firearm rosters) you want to attend; you can’t go.

    you logically carry that belief out to its end that any law about what type of firearm a person can own, carry, buy or trade is an affront to that right?

    This is an area where it is very easy to misunderstand; so I want to be careful. I think the government has to show what is called ‘strict scrutiny’ in order to pass a law that restricts one of our fundamental rights

    Strict scrutiny is a form of judicial review that courts use to determine the constitutionality of certain laws. To pass strict scrutiny, the legislature must have passed the law to further a “compelling governmental interest,” and must have narrowly tailored the law to achieve that interest.

    I don’t think every law against the right to keep and bear arms is an affront to that right. The laws I think are acceptable are those that are based on an individual’s criminal or civil deeds.
    We don’t require people to prove they are competent parents until they have been arrested for child abuse. We don’t prevent people from career fields until their criminal actions show they can’t be trusted in that field (stock brokers convicted of insider trading, etc).

    I’ll go back to your own words

    if someone suspected that i abuse my children, then i very well might have to prove that i do not, or my children would be (and should be) taken way. surely you are not advocating for no type of child welfare system?

    I have a Texas Concealed Handgun License. In order to obtain legal permission from the government to exercise a fundamental right, I had to:

    -submit fingerprints,
    -submit 2 color photographs
    -submit to a background check
    -attend an 8 to 10 hour training class
    -show proficiency similar to what basic law enforcement officers have to show in the state
    -pay $70 for the license (half price due to veteran status), $10 for the photos, $10 for the finger prints, and $50 for the class.

    Now apply that same process to being a parent, to voting (poll tax???), to speaking, to attending church, etc.
    Heck, the courts have consistently ruled that requiring a photo id to vote –$6 in Texas ! — is unconstitutional because it raises a barrier to exercising the right to vote for minorities and the poor.

    The upper limits of the right to keep and bear arms? That can be debated. I’ll throw this out there in order to stir the pot. Many people claim the 2nd Amendment is about being a part of the Militia in order to protect the country. Others it is to protect the country against a tyrannical government.

    Either way; wouldn’t it make sense to put the upper limit at whatever a government could use against me?

    Think on that and see if it isn’t very similar to our other rights (the right to redress, speech)

    is that correct? i’m being serious here, and do not want to misunderstand or misrepresent or belittle your view.

    I hope this helps.

    I was serious (and realize it might have been lost in the thread) – but I hope this helps explains where my question earlier is coming from. Could you answer?

    if someone suspected that i abuse my children, then i very well might have to prove that i do not, or my children would be (and should be) taken way. surely you are not advocating for no type of child welfare system?

    I’m going to highlight something you said to make sure I have it absolutely correct. Please let me know if you did not mean it this way.

    if someone suspected that i abuse my children

    So if someone suspected I might be a violent thug or mentally ill; I might have to prove I’m not.
    So that leaves either one of two possibilities based on your approach

    1.) You think all gun owners might be breaking the law
    or
    2.) you are advocating a different legal standard based on the desire to own a firearm.

    Given you have advocated for such a sanity check for gun owners; Which is it Sir?

    Bob S.

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    1. let me take this backwards. i certainly do not think all gun owners are breaking the law, because i am one. i suppose i am offering a different legal standard regarding firearms, but i would be willing to consider other options insofar as we can address the real problem here. the real problem is not firearms, but firearms being in the wrong peoples hands.

      that is where i think you and i can find some serious common ground. i would be willing, i think, to waive most gun control laws if we did a much better job monitoring the actions of those with known mental health conditions. that was a big part of my original blog post. it is not that we have guns in our country, and it is not that we have crazy people in our country. it is that we have crazy people who are unsupervised and therefore they are able to get weapons. i also ask the question, rhetorically because i don’t have an answer, why has this only become an issue in the past 20 years or so? that is why i think part of the problem lies in communicating the value of life and worldview.

      i see your point about the licensing. i got a concealed carry in another state, with much laxer rules than texas. no class needed. no proficiency standards. just $50 and a background check. the background check is almost useless, though, because it only pops on things like arrest record and if you were institutionalized. a person seeing a psychiatrist and on mind-altering drugs, who was near a breakdown, or otherwise distressed would not register on the background check. that is the primary reason, Bob, why i think something like testimony or ‘proof’ would be useful here to indicate that the person asking for the permit is stable.

      most gun laws in our nation are based around trying to keep them out of ‘criminals’ hands. i don’t think that is much of an issue because most everyone recognizes that a criminal can get guns and laws will not stop a criminal. however, we can keep them out of crazy people’s hands if the communities around them and law enforcement were educated as to what to do and how to do it. most people, even professionals in the field, aren’t quite sure what they should do regarding law enforcement and mentally unstable people. that, perhaps, is where our focus should be.

      thanks again bob. i have appreciated this, because it has helped me think about it a lot more.

      Like

      1. Jamie,

        Let’s turn it around like you said and look at some of the logistics involved in what you are requesting.

        the real problem is not firearms, but firearms being in the wrong peoples hands.

        First, we have to define ‘the wrong people’.
        I’m going to throw this out again just to stir the pot but who shouldn’t have the right to effectively defend themselves?
        Can you name a single person who shouldn’t be allowed to use a firearm to stop someone from murdering them?
        Can you name a single person who shouldn’t be allowed to use a firearm to stop a rapist from attacking their mother/daughter/wife/sister/aunt?

        Our country has the warped idea that some people don’t deserve those rights. I want to challenge that view.

        Now if you say “Well some people have proven they can’t behave with firearms and therefore shouldn’t have them” — I’ll come back with “Then why do we let them run around able to buy gasoline, knives, ammonia&fertilizer, or just simply do violence with their bodies?”

        And this goes for mental illness or crime; if someone is not to be trusted with a firearm; should they be allowed to run around in society loose?

        Second

        if we did a much better job monitoring the actions of those with known mental health conditions.

        Your original proposal was to require proof of sanity
        i think i would go the step of saying that a person should have to prove, perhaps with witnesses and a doctors letter, that he or she is stable and in command of their faculties before being allowed to own a firearm

        Let’s look at the logistics of that concept . We’ll go with the lower end of gun ownership estimates and say 50,000,000 gun owners.

        Getting two letters of references from friends or family; maybe 30 minutes time to be generous. Little cost to the gun owner — maybe a few bucks in gas. Let’s ignore that for now but note that even mentally ill people can find 2 people who would be willing to write letters.

        Next is the doctor’s letter – I’m assuming you meant a psych eval and not just a letter from Dr. Marcus Welby or Dr. Gregory House — or the country doctor. So how long would it take to determine if I’m competent?
        Let’s be very generous and say just one (1) hour. that is still 50,000,000 hours. Of course, not everyone will go to a doctor — non-compliance would be a major problem….so you’ll need penalties and courts, etc. Never mind the invasion of privacy.
        Let’s say that doctors would only charge a nominal fee of $20? Would that be fair? That is still $1,000,000,000 — 1 BILLION Dollars.

        And then it has to be reviewed by someone; I’m guessing just showing a letter to the gun store wouldn’t be sufficient in your mind (I can churn out dozens of official looking documents on my ink jet printer) — so let’s say 1 week for the local law enforcement officials to process it but only 30 minutes per letter actual work time — still looking at 25,000,000 hours there. Law Enforcement salary averages around $52K per year — or $25 per hour. That would be $635 Million dollars in costs — and how many crime wouldn’t be solved while that officer is working paper work?

        Should I go on or is it clear that requiring sanity checks for every gun owner is impractical to any degree?

        Then we get to your idea

        however, we can keep them out of crazy people’s hands if the communities around them and law enforcement were educated as to what to do and how to do it.

        Let’s define ‘crazy’ and mentally ill. The Washington Navy Yard shooter was mentally ill but was able to function in society. So was the UCSB shooter and many others. There are some people who don’t function well in society but are not a harm to themselves or others on the other hand.

        Who determines where the line is in their right to keep and bear arms ?

        Should they forfeit their other rights at the same point? Free Speech, Religion, freedom to travel, sign contracts?

        And would the ‘experts’ even be able to tell. The UCSB shooter had been in counseling for years; why didn’t his counselor identify the probability / possibility that he would harm others. Surely there were enough clues in years of counseling to tell — and if not, would a single 1 hour session for evaluation be able to tell?

        I make this point to get to the next — if professionals with education, knowledge and experience miss such problems; do we really think friends, families and communities would be a better choice?

        In some ways yes, in many ways no. I do agree we need to change the laws to make it easier to involuntarily commit someone but I definitely don’t want to go back to the days of simply warehousing anyone who doesn’t fit the ‘normal’ ideal.

        I definitely do not want to increase the power or authority of law enforcement to declare someone incompetent. While the vast majority of cops are great people, that is a power I am unwilling to cede to them due to the abuse inherent in that charge and the abuse of power we see all too often.

        And what reduction in homicide would the results get us?

        Statistically, the rate of mass shootings in the US has been shockingly flat since the 1980s; if you counted up all of the people who have been killed in mass shootings over the last 30 years, the cumulative body count will equal less than a tenth of one percent of the total number of murder victims in the US over the same time frame.

        That includes gang/drug killings that rack up the body count. Despite the cringe inducing, headline grabbing nature of spree killing; they just don’t happen that often. Especially those related to mental illness.

        Wouldn’t a better focus be on treating mentally ill people better, confining them if they are a hazard to themselves or others before we focus on those that own firearms?

        Wouldn’t a better focus be on reducing the factors that contribute to criminal activity — let’s reduce unemployment, improve education, strengthen the family / improve parenting skills, let’s keep the violent repeat offenders in jail, let’s change the drug laws so victimless crimes don’t result in life line stigma. Let’s legalize recreational drug use – didn’t the Prohibition of Alcohol in the 20’s lead to the rise of organized crime and violence and the legalization of it reduced violence?

        Everyone wants to “do something” but I think we focus on the wrong items. Millions of gun owners – yourself included – didn’t go out and murder one or more people yesterday or at any time. Let’s make sure we are addressing something that will be manageable and result in actual reductions in violence not just make us feel better.

        Bob S.

        Like

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