Tuesday, December 18, 2012


(Political cartoon by Yaakov Kirschen and published at Dry Bones.  Click on image to enlarge and then be kind enough to return.)

OK, I'm trying to claw myself out of the miasma of incredible sadness and depression following the Newtown Massacre.  I'm old,  and I don't have that many years left.  I don't want to spend the rest of my days weeping in bed with the covers pulled over my head.  That's the coward's way out.  It's time to move from sadness to anger, from immobilization to activism.

The ideal response would be to institute widespread changes which would ban all guns save hunting rifles from civilians, but even I know that ain't gonna happen right now.  Just like universal access to healthcare, we're apparently going to have to take an incremental approach.  Of course, that means we're going to have continuing deaths by guns, either in terms of mass killings or in terms of  "murder-suicides" or domestic violence.  People will still die, but perhaps not as many.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has seen the results of gun violence up close and personal, has already indicated she will be introducing a bill in the next Congress which will essentially re-instate the assault weapons ban.

Two days after the shooting deaths of 26 people at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, Sen. Dianne Feinstein pledged Sunday that she would introduce new gun-control legislation at the beginning of next year’s congressional session.

“It [the bill] will ban the sale, the transfer, the transportation and the possession,” the California senator said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Not retroactively, but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.”

Feinstein said the purpose of her proposal, a version of the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004, is to get “weapons of war off the streets of our cities.”

OK, that's a start, but only a tiny baby-step.  I'd like to see more for this start, as would a lot of my friends.  In a discussion at Eschaton, folks came up with a list of other terms for the first step.  I have added a few to the list, including the following:

1. The banning of internet sales of guns and ammunition.
2. The addition of a stiff federal tax on both guns and ammunition to be set aside for a federal buy-back program on military-type assault weapons and hand guns.
3. The banning of gun shows.
4. The requirement of registration at the time of ammunition purchase with a delay while a background check has been run.
5. The mandatory reporting to the federal government of large sales of ammunition.
6. The requirement that mental health professionals report individuals who should not have access to firearms much as they are required to report in some states individuals who are a threat to themselves or others.

This is, once again, just a start, but one we have to make that start if we are going to move this country, and it is one which might just might save a few lives.

All of this might look like weak tea, but you can be sure that the gun-rights people will begin howling as soon as a decent period of grieving for the deaths of 20 first graders is over.  That means we have to get active.

As soon as the 113th Congress has been sworn in we need to let our senators and our representative in the House know what we expect of them.  We can't expect the current congressional toadies to be interested in the issue in the next ten days.  And, of course, we can hold our president's feet to the fire on the issue after his comments at the Newtown vigil on 12/16/12.

We can also sign  a petition at the White House site.  Yes, it requires registration, but if you're on the internet and reading blogs such as this, the government has already got information on you.

We need to do these things because, to paraphrase Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing."

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Blogger John Gardner said...

I can't wait to see what horrible names i'm called this time!
1. The banning of internet sales of guns and ammunition.
Internet "sales" of guns is just money changing hands. Delivery of the gun must go through an FFL, and the standard paperwork and background checks are done at that time.
Banning internet sales of ammo? You'll kill off some businesses, but won't affect supply or demand. What might be plausible would be to make it like guns, forcing ammo to only be shipped to retailers/FFLs.
2. The addition of a stiff federal tax ...
I find it interesting that the cost and time of a photo id in order to vote is considered a racist/ageist poll tax, but requiring an amazing amount of money and paperwork to acquire a gun and bullets is not.
So poor people don't deserve participate in the 2nd amendment, or self defense, but deserve to vote. very progressive.
Personally, I'm not against taxing guns and ammo. I think it is a fine idea, as long as it isn't prohibitively expensive, so that poor people can still defend themselves. They're already forced to spend $12 and time and money to buy an ID so they can vote, they can spare another $12 to defend themselves.
3. the banning of gun shows ...
This one depends. In WA state, most of the gun shows are run by a specific organization, Washington Arms Collectors. In order to buy or sell a gun at any of the gun shows they run, you must be a member. in order to be a member, you undergo the same background check that you would for a CPL or to buy a firearm. Additionally, inside the gun show, if the seller is an FFL, they still do all the paperwork and background checks as required by law. the only ones that don't go through a background check at the time of sale are person to person sales, which do not require it. But again, you already passed the checks to become a member.
If you define "ban gun shows" as "require standard paperwork and background checks for all sales at gun shows", i'm fine with that.

10:21 AM  
Blogger John Gardner said...

…continued, since it says my comment is too large to post…
4. The requirement of registration at the time of ammunition purchase with a delay while a background check has been run.
The only problem I have with this is scale. So you want some 17 year old kid making minimum wage at walmart to be trained to fill out paperwork and run a federal background check for a $7 purchase. (well, I guess with your above they'd be taxed like cigarettes, so my $7 brick of .22LR ammo would end up being $50). but anyway, that's a huge amount of overhead for a tiny transaction. Not only that, but it would require a huge increase in infrastructure to support it. I doubt a tax on ammo alone would cover that.
5. reporting of large sales of ammo
Not opposed to this one either, depending on the definition of large sale.
Is it quantity or cost? a brick 550 rounds of .22LR is like $20 these days. a box of 200 .45 ACP at walmart is like $80? Is that a "large sale"? 550 rounds of .223 might be a large sale, that's a few hundred dollars.
I'd think for practicality, you'd have to define this as cost, the way bank CTR works. Otherwise, you'd have to have a giant table of what number of what caliber of ammo is considered a large sale. And there's a never-ending list of calibers these days.
I suppose you could define the number as N-hundred rounds of any kind of ammo, but again, then you're back to the scale issues that you have with background checks of ammo.
But you just went through the background check to buy the ammo, why not just add one more box to the form #/rounds and be done with it. why the separate thing here at all?
6. mental health reporting...
I completely agree here, and don't think it should be limited to firearms. There should be a universal process for this that ties directly into the instant background check system.
And I think this one, number 6, is the only one that has any reasonable chance of affecting change.
Law abiding people are already following the laws. They'll jump through all the ones you add here, too.

10:21 AM  
Blogger thurbers said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:32 AM  
Blogger thurbers said...

Just out of curiosity why would banning amount of ammo legally sold add to the overhead. You merely stock increments of what you can sell. We already have something like this with some over the counter drugs. You hand over an id and can buy your 20 caplets of sudafed. Your purchase is recorded and you get your allergy relief. So you hand over your id and you can buy 20, 30, 50 rounds of X caliber ammo. Perhaps you lift that limit for ammo bought at a target range with the requirement that any unused ammo be sold back to the range (which must buy it at cost) which covers the recreational or sport gun enthusiast.

This isn't asking for a form, or a background check. And yes it is a means to track large sales of ammunition. But hey, law abiding allergy sufferers deal with it every day...

4:36 AM  

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