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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Gun Post

Inspired by a post on Saur's blog and driven by a TOTAL LACK of comments for the past few days, I am going to switch gears a little bit and venture back to heavy stuff.

Today's topic - guns!

It is well known that America allows gun ownership. It just always has. The guns arrived with the first explorers and never left. They were there when the nation was formed. They were there for the "wild west" days. And they are here now. I own some. I have various pistols, a few rifles, and a shotgun. I sometimes go target shooting. My guns are pretty much fancy pricy loud devices used to put holes in paper. I do not hunt. I live in a city. It is far less trouble to simply buy my food.

I have a permit to carry, but it is very rare that I do. In fact, I never have. Ill get into that later.

However, I am not a member of the NRA. I do not agree with much of what the NRA says.

For one, there is no clear evidence that guns make you any safer. Yea I know, the NRA has all sorts of neat numbers and figures that seem to link a "decrease in crime" to gun ownership. I call bullshit on that! Here is my evidence.

I live in Florida. Florida is one of the states the NRA uses to prove guns are good. The NRA claims that crime in Florida has gone down since pretty much Jeb Bush was elected. I do not know the exact date they start their data from, or what years they compare their data to, but whatever. It is not really important. But lets just look at this at face value here!

IF crime rates are so low, then why do people still feel the need to buy guns? Why did Florida pass the "shoot first ask questions later" law about 1 year ago? And yes, I know the Washington Post (the link is to them) is probably part of a "vast liberal media attack" - but I am just going with the first link I can find on Google here. I would have used the "liberal media" Fox News had it been the first link.

And why are prison populations growing? Why are so many people buying house and car alarms? I mean crime is DROPPING right?? So if crime is DROPPING as the NRA claims then you would think that courts would have fewer cases. And fewer people would feel the need for an expensive house alarm.

So crime is not dropping. Guns seem to have no effect at all. Except for the little problem of so many gun related crimes. How are criminals getting guns?

Well they steal them! And who do they steal them from? Sometimes they rob the gun store. There was a rash of gun store robberies in Miami where a gang would steal a SUV or other large truck, and crash it into the storefront. Once the wall was taken out they would run in, grab as much as they could in a minute or two, then pile into the get-away car and split.

But more commonly, they get them from people who own guns. They break into cars and steal them. They break into homes and steal them.

Now if there were no gun stores, or guns in homes and cars, it would be really hard to steal them.

But guns do not cause crime, PEOPLE cause crime! Right? Well yes. In a way.

Now lets look it in another way. IF the people that cause the crime did not have a gun, would they have pulled off the crime? It is really hard to shoot someone if you do not have a gun! So the guns ENABLE people to cause crime. People so inclined to cause crime in the first place that is.

So you get a gun to protect yourself. What is wrong with that? Well nothing. People need to feel safe in their own homes. So if having a gun makes you feel safe then it is doing something.

But there are things to consider. First of all, the odds of an accidental shooting in a home with no guns in it is zero. The odds of an accidental shooting in a home that has a gun is infinantly higher. I say this because the number 1 in infanantly larger than the number 0. Do not believe me? Take any large number and multiply it by zero. What do you get? Now take any non zero positive number and multiply it by the same large number. What do you get? Even if you take a small number like .00000000000000001 and multiply it by one hundred trillion you get a larger number.

Likewise, having a gun in the house makes you far more likely to add a gun to the streets. If someone breaks into a home without a gun they can not steal one from it.

And yes, most break-ins happen while you are at work. Criminals are not dumb. They know they are far more likely to get away with it if you are not home. You are less likely to be a witness, and who will call the cops? Unless your neighbor is paying attention - nobody will see anything and nobody will call anyone.

But guns on the streets in the hands of permit holders make everyone safe! After all, the criminals have no idea who is packing!

The problem with that is it makes criminals MORE violent. Say you are a criminal, and you see someone you think you should mug. That person may have a gun. So what do you do? The answer if you hit them HARD and FAST. You do not want them to be able to shoot first. So you smack them upside the head with a brick or something. Then you find out if they have a gun. If they do you steal it. If not, at least you may get some cash out of the deal.

This is also a problem with Florida's famous 10/20/life law. It seemed like a great idea - and I still think it is. But if you are a criminal who is going to use a gun in a crime you may face life in prison. Might as well just shoot the person you are going to rob! Life in jail is pretty much a death sentence anyway. Yea you get out in 40 years, old and with no viable job skills. Your family will be gone, as will your friends. So why not just shoot the witness? You might get two life sentences? Will that stop you?

I should note that I still support locking violent people up. Stiffer sentences will make some more violent, but nothing can really be done about that.

But what about Joe Lawful! The guy who never speeds and pays all his taxes on time! The guy who supports the police, and feels bad if he lies to get out of jury duty!

Joe Lawful is not the problem. Joe Lawful is not a threat to anyone. But what happens when Joe buys a gun? Joe opens up the possibility of an accidental shooting, and being the victim of a theft that adds another hot gun to the streets.

But you already said guns have been a part of America since the 1500s! And they were never a problem before! So why do you say they are part of the problem today?

Simple. Things change. Cocaine used to be legal. Cocaine used to be part of the ORIGINAL Coca-Cola formula. Google it, or use my handy link to source. Marijuana used to be legal too, George Washington grew the stuff on his plantation (probably a reason why he was known to request congress to "wrap it up" so he could return home for the harvest). Of course Washington did not grow pot just to smoke it. Many historians think he did, but the main reason for growing it was to make ropes, paper, and cloth. In the age of sail and before nylon and polyester NOTHING made stronger rope or sails than pot. The US Constitution is written on hemp paper, one of the reasons it is still around today. Modern notebook paper will not last 200 years unless it is very carefully preserved from day 1.

But today cocaine and the wicked weed are illegal. You go to jail if you have the stuff. So what changed? In the case of cocaine, it became obvious it was a problem. People had to have started to coke out at some point. In the case of weed, some stuffy law enforcement type person decided that weed caused jazz music - and people looked like they were having too much fun dancing to it. Also, the early jazz musicians were awful dark! And white girls were dancing to the tunes! Back in the "Jim Crow" days this was not exactly "good". At least this is my best theory.

In other words, things change. Some for the better, some for the worse. What was good yesterday may not be good today. And what is good today may not be good tomorrow. So while handguns may have been fine yesterday is not really the issue. Today is the issue.

And what of the hunters? I have no issues with hunting. I happen to understand the concept of wildlife management. It is this easy. We have killed off all or most of the top natural predators. So with less wolves and cougars - what will keep the game animal population in check? Nothing will - except hunters. Without hunters, herds will just overpopulate, get sicker, and cause more car accidents when they wonder out in the streets.

But if kids had more gun education, it would help! How? I am not saying that it is going to hurt, but I fail to see how it helps. It makes them aware of guns? That helps? I do not see how. It may make them less curious, but it may also lead them to believe that they can safely handle a gun should they find one. They may also try to use the gun to "look cool" if they have trouble fitting in. They may know how to not accidentally discharge a gun, but the "friend" they show it to may not.

Another problem is gun owners paranoia. Many of them claim they have guns so the government fears them - but they are so friggin paranoid about EVERYTHING. And the paranoia is very selective. The NRA fought the waiting period laws. Before the waiting period laws hit the books, there was a spike in gun sales. People were buying before they had to wait, because the waiting period was just a "liberal plot to end gun sales". Yet the Patriot Act passed with no opposition from the NRA. When Congress passed laws a few days ago that allows all the stuff Bush is having legal problems with not a single pro-gun group said anything. But these laws COULD give the government the power to toss out at least three amendments depending on how it is used.

Private guns prevent the government from abusing its power? Not from where I am looking at things. The people who own most of the private guns seem to support the current political party in power during their grab for more power.

So then - what do we do? Honestly, I do not know. I do not believe guns make anyone safer, nor do I buy into the propaganda from the NRA that "the second amendment protects the others". People paying attention to what is going on protect the Amendments.

So then I support banning all handguns! Well not exactly. I think it would be good if this could be accomplished, but the fact is that there are so many handguns out there that it would take years, decades, to get them all off the streets. And during that time? Who knows. On one hand, criminals would find the supply of guns cut off. This would cause the street price to skyrocket. Minor thugs would be priced out of the gun market.

On the other hand, there could be a short term spike in gun crimes. Punks would think that they were the only ones with guns and become more daring. Maybe. We really do not know.

I do support gun control measures. I do not have a problem with gun registration. I do not know exactly that good it would do, but I would not be opposed to it. The government would know I have guns? Well so what? They can find out what books I look at in the library. They can spy on my phone calls. They can data mine my credit card purchases, or track how often I pull money out of the ATM. So what is one more thing? It would be violating my rights? It seems to me that plenty of rights are already being violated.

And that thing about Hitler banning guns when he took power? So what? He also consolidated ALL POWER to the executive branch of the government. Nobody seems to have a problem with giving the executive branch of the current government more and more power.

So - what to do? Lets get back to that. I still do not know. If guns were banned, not everyone would turn them in. Legal gun owners would become secretive illegal gun owners. They would not use them to rob people, but they would remain out there. And when the former legal gun owner hits hard times? With no pawn shop to sell a gun at for quick cash, they may sell them on the streets.

In short, society needs to think long term for anything to be accomplished. Crime is NOT getting any better. Things are getting more violent.

But like I said, I do not know what route should be taken. I do not know what will and what will not work. I do not think there are any simple solutions here. Things have regressed to a point where it may not be possible to salvage anything out of it. The old saying "you sleep in the bed you make" may very well apply to America at this point.


Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

These are all excellent points indeed, and I can't (and won't) disagree with any of them. However, due to the situation that currently exists (single female w/ ex-boyfriend that showed a lot of crack dealers where I live), I personally prefer to own a handgun.

I do intend to lock it down so it won't be as easy for a crook to take off with it, and I also have a home alarm system which should send the message loud and clear that it's time for them to get out as quickly as they came!

Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

Like I said, if you feel safer then there is some value there. And in one way you ARE safer. But the safety comes with a price - there are possible dangers opened up as well.

There are many variables here so it is not really possible to say "YYYY will happen if you buy a gun". Maybe nothing happens. Nobody knows.

So it is down to personal choice. And if only law abiding people had guns there would be no problem.

But this is not a perfect world. So we do the best we can. The guns ARE here and they are NOT going away anytime soon.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in a house with guns. My dad was a high power target shooter and we learned really young that what was in the big gun cabinets weren't toys (so young I don't even recall the lectures). I've always felt the argument that "Guns kill people" was ridiculous because until a bullet has been loaded, and the safety flicked off, a gun isn't going to kill you. The person squeezing the trigger...well.

It's hard to say if any ground can even be reclaimed in regards to gun violence. We've had the gun registry here for a few years and I haven't known it to be making any kind of difference in regards to gun violence. I think the situation is too far out of control both in Canada and in the States for the authorities to do anything. Once the quicksand's up to your neck, it's hard to get free.

Would I myself own a gun? Mmm...probably not. It's not because I fear them as I've never considered a gun an alternative to keeping my self safe. If there was a creak or groan in my parent's house I never went looking for the keys to the cabinets, but grabbed the wooden bar from the sliding door. I'm 5'2" I figure the odds of anyone overpowering me are good. If they get my wooden bar...okay, this could hurt. A weapon? Hm...the story ending has just changed. That being said, I still want to get my hands on the Walther PPK replica in the basement. I wonder where air pistols fall in the by-laws of my condo. Hm.

(whoa...pardon the novel!)

Blogger Fuzz said...

Muzzle loaders are fun. Lots of smoke and big boom.

Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

I happen to have two black powder devices! I have a chinese made .50 caliber black powder rifle (Traditions brand) and a Ruger "Old Army" black powder revolver. The Ruger is a replica of the type of gun common in the latter half of the 1800s before cartridge guns were common.

They are fun to take out, but messy and slow to load. I still like them however, as they are easy to clean. Just soap and warm water is all you need.

Best of all - they have almost no value to a criminal.


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