A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

18 April 2007

Gun Control We Can All Live With

While over at Former Frontier Editor's place I was struck with a terrific idea:

I've come around. I've heard so many people saying that more guns are the solution that it's become obvious to me that it's true. So here's an idea the NRA will love: Arm everybody!

In view of the ongoing "terror threats", increased international tensions etc., America must avail herself once again of the citizen soldier. From now on, every John and Jane Doe must be a vigilant, armed and lethal warrior against whateverism.

Therefore, starting in 2008, every man, woman, and child in the United States should be required to own a firearm, and undertake training in how to use it.

All weapons must be kept cached against the threat. For maximum protection and concealment value caches shall conform to the following standard:
The weapon itself shall be stored inside a wooden crate. The crate shall then be placed in a concrete or steel box. Said box must then be buried in the owner 's backyard and covered with a minimum of five feet of earth, to insure against its discovery and use by hostile forces or criminal types.

Planting daisies atop such caches to allay suspicion is encouraged. For additional concealment value, paving the area should be considered.

I am expecting an endorsement from Charlton Heston.


At 4:45 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the case of a society where firearms are so abundant and readily available, perhaps it would be better if EVERYONE was armed. It would have most certainly stopped him after a few victims were shot and the number of people who died would have been fewer.
Robert Heinlein said an armed society is a polite society. I agree.
Of course, at first a bunch of hot-heads would probably get killed, but that is just another type of natural selection. Eventually people would be forced to be tolerant. Would you hold a KKK parade in a black neighborhood if you knew that every one of those citizens was armed?
A worthy experiment, yes?


At 5:59 p.m., Blogger Metro said...

A society in which every single person constantly represents a lethal threat, whether you're buying a pound of butter from them or giving them a parking ticket?

How pleasant.

The touchstone of the fairness of a deal is how well it works if you turn it around.

So how about all the legal owners turn in their guns to the nearest lockup for the next twenty years? Then if gun crime doesn't drop we'll try your idea.

As for an armed society being polite. I think the best example might be the Old West upon which so much of the current US gun culture is built.

If the neighbouring rancher had more guns than you, then he could tell you where the fenceline was. Judge Lead ran the only courthouse.

That polite society produced Billy the Kid, the Clantons, and the Reno brothers, as well as a bunch of equally well-armed men whose only difference to their victims was that they wore a tin star.

Forgive me if I prefer the flawed justice and equity of civil society.

At 7:48 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billy the Kid and friends were actually a product of the civil war. When the war ended they took thier fight and personal grudges west. Many people who were a little too eager to use guns ended up running away from lynch mobs and lots were caught. This is not done as easily today. Still either everyone is armed or just the criminals and police. Its not as though I'm suggesting that anyone be allowed to shoot someone just 'cause they are mad at them. The laws for murder etc would still stand and be enforced. Shooting another person is quite a thing as you and I both are acutely aware of. Although I could forsee a huge increase in property crime (i.e. getting a bullet in your rad for parking in a handicap space). If everyone was able to DEFEND themselves with lethal force perhaps many of the everyday violent crimes would drop off. If someone is angry enough to kill they are going to do it with any weapon at hand.
How is that every person doesn't represent a lethal threat now?
They just don't all have guns.

Happy thoughts.


At 10:54 p.m., Anonymous raincoaster said...

People like me are the reason gun control works. And people like the shooter at Virginia Tech. If effective gun control had existed, those people would be alive today. It's really very simple.

As I keep saying, there are only so many people you can kill by hitting them with a big rock. The solution isn't to turn the innocents into potential perpetrators; the solution is to prevent the would-be perpetrators from acting on the impulse. Putting up effective legal barriers to access to such weapons is effective. The numbers are in.

At 4:18 a.m., Blogger Richard said...

I remember hearing of a town in Texas that has actually implemented mandatory gun carriage, but I can't remember its name so can't wiki it. I have heard it's a bit of a farce.

For a good example of a march through a hostile neighbourhood, I refer you to the Orange Marches in Ireland. Most of the neighbourhood is hostile and many armed. They do it every year anyway, with the knowledge that there will be fights and hospitalisations, sometimes deaths.

I'm sure armed societies are very polite. I'm equally sure there are a lot of deaths in those societies based on different versions of events. Both versions' witnesses die quickly at the hands of opposition friends and relatives, and then you have the makings of many multigenerational feuds.

I vote for less guns.

At 5:34 a.m., Blogger Bill_59 said...

Metro, this is Bill from over at the U7 group. I hope you don't mind, I'm attaching the text of a letter I sent to my local paper, and I'm just throwing it out there. Apologies if it's a bit long. It seemed apropo;
[The response of the nation to the Virginia Tech tragedy this week has demonstrated a major blind spot in the American mentality. There will be some discussion about gun control, and maddening numbers of otherwise intelligent journalists will sigh powerlessly about why did this have to happen. Even the President in his commemoration said “it is impossible to make sense of such violence”. It is absolutely possible; this man was mentally ill. Numerous competent professionals who had been in contact with him noted him as “seriously disturbed”. And nothing was done. Mental illness is disregarded and pushed aside in this country as a problem, partly because of the lack of effective health care for all, but primarily because of the current atmosphere of absolute personal responsibility. It is expected that we will all deal with our demons on our own. Quick anyone, what is the correct answer to “…am I my brothers keeper?”.
Strangely, though when things go wrong, we don’t look to ourselves. When guns kill people, we try to control the guns instead of trying to deal with mental illness. To reduce vehicle fatalities, we load cars with mechanical and electronic gimmicks instead of making driver licensing more rigorous. To reduce oil use we look for alternative fuels to burn instead of simply adapting our own behavior. As a nation we will search around, point fingers, and look for corrective measures elsewhere. Many times the indicators point back directly at us. Cho Seung-Hui became a horrific madman, but at the same time he was also just an average person, one of us. The potential for the dark insanity that overtook him exists in every one of us, and at some point each of us may need some help.]

At 10:56 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

You forgot to say that BTK and friends "took their fight and personal grudges west along with their guns."

If the choice is "either everyone is armed or just the criminals and the police" (which isn't actually the choice, anyway), then I'll leave the guns to the law and the breakers.

But it might be worth asking: how many criminals in Canada use guns on those who aren't members of their fraternity? The classic "self-defence" argument, that of the burglar in your home at night, is a situation that almost never happens. And when it does, the crook usually runs off.

Most crooks don't want the complications, and don't really have the resources to posess and regularly use a firearm. Most criminal shootings occur during business disputes.

You said:
"Its not as though I'm suggesting that anyone be allowed to shoot someone just 'cause they are mad at them."

Then what would all those extra guns be good for? The rate of assault in this country isn't extraordinarily high in the first place. All those "defence weapons", sitting idle ...

I think arming everyone would increase the rate of assaults as cocky little $#!7s with big guns and no brains took on people they'd never tackle if they didn't have a gun to back themselves up. Or perhaps we should re-introduce duelling? Of course, that would mean that brute physical strength and prowess would win any argument, but if you're happy with that ...

How are you going to regulate the violence?

I've heard of a few towns that flirt with requiring universal arms ownership. They mostly tend to be small, pleasant places where one violent incident galvanizes the traumatized citizenry into stampeding for universal weaponry.

So unfortunately, since there isn't a lot of background crime and violence in these places to begin with, if the incident is not repeated, these places often look like the success of universal gun ownership.

I suspect that in many such places the gun rusts in the basement. How do they enforce that requirement anyway? Does some prodnose come around and check?

Out of pure macabre interest, I'd love to see what happens when New York City tries forced universal ownership. When every closet Bernhard Goetz can actually shoot back at every little frustration he encounters in city life?

Look for lots of dead token takers, meter maids, and cable guys.


You're more than welcome here. I surely owe it to my avid fans to take a break from pedantry and listen to other people once in a while ...

Oh, I don't know though ...

But as a U7 owner you've sufficiently demonstrated your intellectual heavyweight cred to be granted a hearing :-)

I doubt that anyone here would disagree that the disturbed need help. The trouble is that we often can't spot them until they actually open fire in a shopping mall.

Your statement that "The potential for the dark insanity that overtook him exists in every one of us" is precisely my point.

We can't control people. That's what the republican panic about gay marriage is all about. But we can control guns. In particular, the United States can control guns much better and more efficiently than is currently does.

Instead, thanks to a few vociferous, paranoid, and angry citizens who fear their right to hunt might vanish before the game animals do, or worry that the black helicopters are coming any day now, the US allows people to buy guns over-the-counter like a pound of hamburger.

Even people like this, who have demonstrated angry, violent, obsessive behaviour.

The numbers are very simple. For all that the NRA and allies try to muddy the water by blaming culture, alleging for example that "every Swiss citizen must own and train in the use of a firearm," the facts are plain.

The United States holds the highest percentage of guns in the world: About a third of the total. It also has the highest incidence of mass gun killings.

Yes, if all the guns were taken away tomorrow, some psycho would find another way to take people out. But fewer people would die overall, and fewer still in each incident.

After the terror attacks in September 2001, the United States changed the laws and security proceedings on not simply domestic flights, but all flights.

That is, they introduced aircraft control.

(I'm much more concerned about the restrictions they placed upon our movements than those placed on firearms.)

After Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murragh building, the US introduced traceable explosives and tighter controls on who could buy nitrate fertilizers and in what quantity.

That is, the US introduced fertilizer control.

Yet year after year someone pours lead into another batch of kids, and the NRA blames society, culture, rap music, fluoride in the water, and every other damn thing but guns and their gun culture.

It's time people stopped listening to them.

At 11:23 a.m., Anonymous PJ said...

Raincoaster, I couldn't agree more. This map says it all. (Half the time that link works; half the time it doesn't.)

Do you know how hard it is to buy a gun in Canada? You have to apply for a permit. That takes a lot of money, and 8 months to a year just in itself.

In that time, you are investigated by the local police, the provincial police, the federal police (RCMP), CSIS and Interpol. Then you own a gun. But you can't take it home. No, you have to sign up for lessons on how to use it. To practice at a range, you have to join a gun club. Your actions are closely monitored once you bring your gun home, forever after. That's about how it works in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand too.

In Virginia, anyone child over 12 years old can buy a rifle or a shotgun. Any adult resident can buy a gun WITHOUT a permit. There's no restriction on assault weapons like AK-47s and Uzis. And 32 of the 50 states have MORE LAX regulations than Virginia.

It's insane. Their "right to bear arms" which Bush couldn't resist working into his address to the grieving families (a photo op for him), was based on a pioneering land filled with (rightfully) hostile natives. It hardly applies now.

At 1:18 p.m., Anonymous SG said...

Hmm. I have a concealed weapon permit and I lied on my application. I didn't check off a misdemeanor conviction (driving related) from a decade ago. Regardless, lying in itself should have disqualified me from having this permit but I don't think they even bothered to check.

At 6:25 p.m., Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Actually, my dad is one of those people who believes that everyone should be armed because he believes firmly that it would reduce violent crime. He sites all kinds of things to support his claim, but I don't buy it at all. Raincoaster put it so well: "The solution isn't to turn the innocents into potential perpetrators." Bravo.

At 7:40 p.m., Blogger Samuel Christopher said...

"The solution isn't to turn the innocents into potential perpetrators."

This comment got me thinking...

Are people only innocent if they don't own a gun? Do they in some way turn into potential (more potential?) perpetrators if they do?

People remain innocent...well...because they are.

What if I said that innocent people - by owning a gun - could turn into potential people who still breathe the same air we do because they had the opportunity to defend off a perp who could care less what the laws are?

Although the facts below come from the NRA site (they keep them tidy in one place), all of them can be cross referenced through the FBI's crime statistics and web site:

Violent crime rates are highest overall in states with laws severely limiting or prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms for self-defense. (FBI Uniform Crime Reports, 1992) -

The total Violent Crime Rate is 26% higher in the restrictive states (798.3 per 100,000 pop.) than in the less restrictive states (631.6 per 100,000).

The Homicide Rate is 49% higher in the restrictive states (10.1 per 100,000) than in the states with less restrictive CCW laws (6.8 per 100,000).

The Robbery Rate is 58% higher in the restrictive states (289.7 per 100,000) than in the less restrictive states (183.1 per 100,000).

The Aggravated Assault Rate is 15% higher in the restrictive states (455.9 per 100,000) than in the less restrictive states (398.3 per 100,000). Using the most recent FBI data (1992), homicide trends in the 17 states with less restrictive CCW laws compare favorably against national trends, and almost all CCW permittees are law-abiding.

Since adopting CCW (1987), Florida's homicide rate has fallen 21% while the U.S. rate has risen 12%. From start-up 10/1/87 2/28/94 (over 6 yrs.) Florida issued 204,108 permits; only 17 (0.008%) were revoked because permittees later committed crimes (not necessarily violent) in which guns were present (not necessarily used).

Of 14,000 CCW licensees in Oregon, only 4 (0.03%) were convicted of the criminal (not necessarily violent) use or possession of a firearm. Americans use firearms for self-defense more than 2.1 million times annually.

By contrast, there are about 579,000 violent crimes committed annually with firearms of all types. Seventy percent of violent crimes are committed by 7% of criminals, including repeat offenders, many of whom the courts place on probation after conviction, and felons that are paroled before serving their full time behind bars.

Two-thirds of self-protective firearms uses are with handguns.

99.9% of self-defense firearms uses do not result in fatal shootings of criminals, an important factor ignored in certain "studies" that are used to claim that guns are more often misused than used for self-protection. Of incarcerated felons surveyed by the Department of Justice, 34% have been driven away, wounded, or captured by armed citizens; 40% have decided against committing crimes for fear their would-be victims were armed.

I'm sure I'm not alone in my frustration at joining in a debate where we know the outcome for years to come.

America is not going to get rid of its weapons and they don't have the guts or the manpower to add mental evaluations to gun purchases. Not that it would solve every crime committed with a gun - but it would sure help.

All great thoughts by everyone. Thank you for allowing me to drop by.


At 5:01 a.m., Blogger Bill_59 said...

Thanks for the comments Metro.
re: "The trouble is that we often can't spot them until they actually open fire in a shopping mall."
The thing that drove me to write to the paper in the first place, was watching these "journalists" repeat "why did this happen?....." Aaaaaah! This guy had been spotted, he had a long history of dangerous insane behaviour.
I don't own any guns, primarily because it's just not an interest of mine. Also I'm not paranoid. I loath the NRA, IMO a bunch of fear-mongering-small-minded-white-male supremacist-middle-aged-middle-class power-hungry-control-freaks-fearful-of watching-their-societal-dominance-erode. Replace "NRA" with "the religious right" or "Bushes base" at your whim.
It sounds like Canada has a good system in place for gun control. The hurdles in place do not deter the serious enthusiast. However, I don't think either would it deter the seriously insane wacko. Lunatics have proven to be quite capable of long term planning and dogged determination.
I'm a little concerned that if we start to legislate behaviour through control of the "thing", as with smoking or drugs (miserable failure), they will eventually come after my motorcycles [or insert your own personal passion].

At 10:45 a.m., Blogger Metro said...

You sure the approving official wasn't just distracted when you slid that derringer out of your garter?

@Wandering Coyote
There are many such people around. I was one of them for a long time. It was partly my experiences in the army that convinced me that universal ownership is not only not the solution, but is far more likely to increase the problem.

I was only ever menaced once, in a "joking" fashion, by a sixteen-year-old kid who should have known better. But this kid, and I, and all my friends, were part of a "well-regulated" military force (government sponsored--not a bunch of @$$hats who wore camo to the local Neighbourhood Watch meeting).

But since Afghanistan started we've had at least two self-inflicted deaths and at least one "friendly-fire incident" between Canadian soldiers armed with automatic carbines.

Most soldier think of their weapons as the tool of their trade. It's no different from a hammer, only the rules are tighter. Even so, there were a number of people I saw do dumb, things, make mistakes, and occasionally make violent remarks or threats.

It's hard to imagine handing out weapons to all and sundry when the people authorized and trained to use them make mistakes with this sort of frequency.

"What if I said that innocent people - by owning a gun - could turn into potential people who still breathe the same air we do because they had the opportunity to defend off a perp who could care less what the laws are?"

I'd say "Those people would be better off if guns were harder to get, period."

The NRA "facts" are, to put it gently, slanted and spun in myriad ways. I haven't space for that argument here, and in truth I'm tired of pointing out the same basic facts. So I'll confine myself to a few of the larger holes:

The NRA "facts" are drawn from a single place: The USA. Where the lack of gun control has allowed guns to flood the markets--legal, illegal, and the millions of weapons that are sold by their original owners each year with no requirement that said sale, or the new owners' names, be registered in any way. The US has approximately 1/32 of the world's population, but 1/3 of the firearms.

I think it's difficult to argue honestly using figures from the NRA. When I look for figures on this, I try to source them from something with less of a vested interest.

Wikipedia is helpful in this regard. Occasionally someone trots out the old canard that Switzerland requires universal ownership. Or that gun ownership is higher per capita in Canada. Both of those statements are false, as a moment's research will tell.

Less guns equals fewer gun deaths. That's the beginning and the end of it.

Thanks to all of you for taking time to leave your thoughts.

At 5:23 p.m., Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

My dad also sites the Switzerland thing but I've been telling him for years it's false. He just won't believe me, though!


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