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various gun control items

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.

Earlier today, I posted the following at FB:

I’ve been thinking about what passes for a debate on gun control in America, and I’ve been noticing many on the right talk about criminals doing whatever they need to get a gun illegally. I wonder how this debate would be different if we realized the world is not split into good people and death eaters, as Sirius Black put so well. A criminal is someone who commits a crime. A fellow human like me. He is not some entirely other species.

On a slightly different note, I’m more for bullet control than gun. Guns may serve a legitimate purpose but, outside of a well-regulated militia, large quantities of bullets do not.

(edited slightly to correct typos)

That reminded me of an old Dilbert comic. LOL-worthy, but also deeply profound in my opinion.

This weekend, I read a deeply moving post at the “Opinionator” blog (hosted by the NY Times), about how our American focus on guns makes us all less free and less open to a community. THis is what I have been thinking for a long time, but haven’t exactly worked out how to say. I highly recommend it.

The Freedom of an Armed Society by Firmin Debrabander


Not that anyone’s asked me, but my position on gun control is that this can’t be reduced to an issue, certainly not of the bumper sticker variety. I am a pacifist and don’t want guns around me. (The piece by Mr. Debrabander above explains one of the many reasons why.) But at the same time I grew up in a world where most of my neighbors probably owned guns, where accidents were extremely rare, and where responsible adults secured their weapons responsibly. Talking like all gun-owners are irresponsible is insulting and tends to make the paranoid ones more paranoid.

But at the same time, we need to acknowledge their extreme dangers. We need to recognize what they can and can’t do reasonably, and the very real risks they pose both psychologically and sociologically as well as in the body count. We also need to recognize that not all gun crimes are committed by career criminals; many accidents and homicides are committed by folks we’d consider “good people.” (Also that there’s nowhere near as hard a division as people seem to think.)

That’s a big part of why I like the bullet-control rather than gun-control solution. On top of control, I would like to see them taxed very heavily with the money used to help victims of gun violence. The first clip per gun should be tax-free, and if you can show that you fired the gun for some legitimate purpose the tax should be waived on future clips as well. (That would include hunting.) $10-$20 a shot doesn’t seem excessive here, because I seriously don’t see any legitimate reason to have so much ammunition on hand. Anything that makes people thing before they shoot seems like a good thing to me. :-)

Btw: I’m not blaming the gun lobby (or the gun control lobby) for the Connecticut shooting. That tragedy and the others like it feed off a range of issues, and banning all the guns or making them widely available won’t in itself prevent that event from happening again. But our absolutist discussion of gun control doesn’t help things. Nor does our media’s “Squirrel!” tendencies.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 17th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
I would agree with you entirely about upping the price of ammunition, had I not just read this very thought-provoking post by an LJ friend-of-a-friend...

...who points out that when she was a card-carrying NRA member, one of the things that made her a safe(r) gun user was that she was a very, very accurate shot. She got that way by putting in hours of practice at the range and getting through a lot of ammunition.

I can completely see the argument for ammunition to keep at home being expensive, but should the same be true of ammo used at a range where people are learning to shoot straight? Aren't gun owners who can't afford to keep their hand in more dangerous than those who can?

(Apologies if that's already been covered in the debate in the States. As a European I should probably just keep my oar out...)
Dec. 17th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen much stateside debate over ammunition control at all. Maybe I'm just missing out (this really isn't my area of expertise since I am, as I said, a pacifist...) but I don't think there's been much debate at all.

That said, I'd be completely fine making reasonable exceptions. I think making cheap or even free ammo available at shooting ranges sounds like a good exception. I also think we could work out a reasonable exception for people to use while hunting - maybe the licensing offices could sell cheap ammunition but only for sporting guns? Something like that. If there actually is a reason for people to need that much ammunition, I am completely open to working out a way to accommodate that.

The reason I hit on ammo control is that in the US people have a certain emotional attachment to their guns. They may even have a legitimate reason to need a gun for self-protection. America has a lot of open space and I can see if you lived in a rural area, having a gun as a deterrent might be quite useful, practically + emotionally. But there are very few reasons why you need to actually use that gun regularly. It seems the path of least resistance here is to find a way to avoid mass shootings without actually taking guns away, if we can.
Dec. 17th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking a lot about this. I hadn't thought of the idea of ammunition control, but I quite like it!

The thing that's been niggling me is about the fact that on the pro-gun side of the debate, whenever there's a mass shooting I hear a lot of "well, if they (the adults in the vicinity) were all armed, they could have stopped the shooter much faster."

On the surface, without taking context into consideration, that makes sense. However...
- In the most recent incident, the majority of the casualties were, I believe, in the same classroom. It's entirely reasonable to assume that the very first person he shot would have been the only adult in the room, and thus she would have had no chance to stop him.

- In Virginia the guy was, if I recall correctly, in a sniping position, high up, shielded from easy attack. Even if every single student had been armed, I'm dubious as to whether it would have mattered.

- In Columbine, the shootings were done in a school. I remember high school. I remember being crammed shoulder-to shoulder, unable to do anything but duck into and out of the flow of the crowd while trying to get to class. If the same number of people were all flowing towards a smaller number of targets (the exits) I don't see how any adult could have gotten *to* the shooters unless they had the dubious luck of being near the center of the action, as it were.

But leaving all that aside. Ignoring the circumstances, what niggles at me is the human factor. Military recruits go through considerable mental abuse in boot camp to get them to the point where they can truly shoot without hesitating, as is necessary in a war. Yes, a mother might be willing to kill to protect her child, but there's likely to be a hesitation, an assessment as to whether that's really necessary. And in a mass shooting situation, that hesitation is deadly. So are we going to force every single teacher to go through the same sort of military training, so they could actually make that split-second decision/reaction? If you think there's a shortage of qualified teachers just because the pay's lousy and the hours are brutal, just wait and see what happens if you tried to add mandatory boot camp to the mix!

I think... the NRA is made up of people who are comfortable with guns. As best as I understand their stance, they believe that, had everyone in that town hall been armed, they wouldn't have been intimidated and unwilling to discuss with the protester. This assumption is based on the premise that everyone, deep down, is like them. Maybe that the only reason everyone doesn't own guns is that the gov't makes it difficult, or somehow contributes to the stigmatisation of gun ownership. I don't know.

But I'm scared of guns. The one time I held a gun, my stomach was churning, and it wasn't even loaded and I wasn't holding it in a way that I could shoot it. I'm sure I could, if I felt it was necessary, learn to use a gun effectively. But that doesn't mean I'd be able to use it effectively in an emergency. By way of comparison, I was scared of cars, too, before I learned to drive. I've now been driving for 15 years. And you know what? I'm still more stressed when driving than not. I don't like being responsible for a potentially lethal amount of weight and momentum. If I had a split second to decide "drive or don't drive" in an emergency situation... I wouldn't drive. And I don't think I'd shoot, either.

Sorry, this got long. But you helped me put my finger on what's been bothering me, and I wanted to try to express it.

Dec. 17th, 2012 11:31 pm (UTC)
You know, you actually may have hit on something.

The mention of having enough ammo to practice with could perhaps be solved by gun ranges providing free blanks to shooters there to practice. Organizations that run shooting competitions could also have a special waiver to provide ammo for such a thing.

There are possibly other things to take into account, like hunting--perhaps the amount of ammo sold could be tied to the hunting season. Most hunting seasons have limits on the number of animals that can be hunted--so ration that ammunition tied to that number; i.e. number of bullets sold in deer season to one hunter=the state limit on deer.

Anyway, then people who have legitimate reasons to shoot would have what they need for that reason.

And it would solve a problem I heard discussed on the morning news: there are MILLIONS of guns in circulation and they are NOT biodegradable. If they were outlawed today, it would take decades to round them all up.

But if ammo were either rationed or highly taxed or both? Now that's a different story...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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