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Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

Gun laws: How the US embraced anarchy in its gun regulations

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It comes down to money, of course. Watch the video at the link below. Very interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 March 2018 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Guns

2 “good guys with guns” accidentally fired them in schools on Tuesday

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Gun accidents happen only if guns are present.

Emily Stewart reports in Vox:

As the Trump administration advocates for more guns in schools and allowing teachers to carry firearms, two separate incidents in Virginia and California on Tuesday in which trained school employees accidentally fired their weapons highlight the dangers of such a proposal.

A teacher who is also a reserve police officer trained to use a gun accidentally discharged a firearm at Seaside High School in Monterey County, California, on Tuesday. According to the local outlet KSBW, Dennis Alexander’s gun went off around 1 pm while he was teaching a course about gun safety. He was pointing his gun at the ceiling when it went off, and pieces of the ceiling hit the ground.

The local police department said no one suffered serious injuries, but one 17-year-old boy was harmed when fragments from the bullet hit his neck, the boy’s father, Fermin Gonzales, told KSBW. The boy’s parents only figured out what had happened when he returned home from school with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments on his neck.

“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be okay. I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it,” the father told the TV station.

In a separate incident in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday, a school resource officer — a five-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department — accidentally discharged his weapon while inside George Washington Middle School. No one, including the officer, was injured.

“I just think it was an accident that happened, and we’re going to investigate it and find out, and we’re going to move forward,” Capt. D.C. Hayes told NBC Washington. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 March 2018 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Education, Guns

Why the real defenders of the Second Amendment oppose the NRA

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Corey Brettschneider, a political science professor at Brown and a visiting professor at Fordham Law School, writes in the Guardian:

n any debate about guns in America, there’s one aspect that’s seemingly inescapable: the moment when the National Rifle Association (NRA) or other defenders of an anything-goes gun policy recite the second amendment from memory.

Perhaps no subsection of a political movement is so passionately animated by a clause of the US constitution. As many a gun enthusiast is eager to say, gun regulation is a non-starter; the second amendment is the law of the land, so the government can’t tell me what to do with my guns.

But those seeking sensible gun regulation – like the 83% of Americans who support a mandatory waiting period for buying a gun and the 67% of Americans who agree with a ban on assault weapons – should not just accept the distortion of the second amendment as fact. Instead, they should loudly respond that gun regulation’s proponents, not the NRA, are the true defenders of the second amendment. In fact, both supreme court case law and the text of the second amendment itself support reasonable regulations on guns. As written, the constitution and the second amendment permit precisely the kind of regulation Congress should enact.

In 1991, former Chief Justice Warren Burger, a Republican appointee, explained why the text of the Second Amendment affirms the importance of gun regulation. The first words of the amendment, Burger pointed out, are “a well regulated Militia.” This language presupposes the idea that the militias should be regulated. So, Burger reasoned, if the amendment rests on the assumption that well-trained state armies could be regulated, then it is sensible to think it also allows Congress to regulate guns among the general citizenry.

The constitutional argument for gun regulation also goes beyond the Second Amendment. The Constitution’s preamble speaks of the need to “insure domestic Tranquility”—a fundamental task of any government that can be aided by regulating deadly weapons. The recent tragedy in Florida—merely the newest in a line of one numbing bloodbath after another, a crisis that no other developed country on earth suffers from—has made it clear that our schools, hospitals, and military are anything but tranquil. In places where they once would have thought themselves safe, citizens fear another attack.

This is not only unacceptable, but it also demonstrates how far our country has strayed from a central constitutional principle. The preamble’s call for “domestic Tranquility” and the Second Amendment’s embrace of regulation do not merely allow Congress to act to regulate guns; they impel Congress to do so.

What about the worry that some forms of regulation still violate the second amendment? As Burger said in 1991, the idea that the second amendment prohibits gun regulation is “one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word fraud – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” And Burger’s view of the amendment squares with what the supreme court has said more recently.

In the landmark case District of Columbia v Heller, Justice Scalia ruled for the first time in American history that the second amendment protected individual gun rights. He held that a Washington, DC police officer with extensive firearms training had a right to own a gun and store it in his home. The Court ruled that the amendment protected individuals, not just members of a militia. Scalia, however, made it clear that the DC gun law restricting almost all gun ownership was an extreme on the spectrum of regulation—but also that such as spectrum existed. He argued that many other types of regulation did not conflict with the Second Amendment—even as it was first understood in our young nation: bans on assault weapons, Scalia wrote, are “fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

All of the regulation proposals now on the table would clearly fit within the definition of “well-regulated,” and thus are completely compatible with a robust Second Amendment. These proposals include bans on assault weapons, increased waiting periods for purchases, and more comprehensive and widespread background checks. These are the definition of reasonable gun regulations—the types of protective measures that the Constitution not only enabled but called for the government to enact.

In fact, Scalia said explicitly in his decision that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Indeed, the supreme court recently refused to even consider a case in which a plaintiff asked the court to overturn a ten-day waiting period; his argument was that such an inconvenience was a violation of the Second Amendment. It seemed obvious to the court that such sensible gun legislation does not violate the second amendment.

This pro-regulatory reading of the Constitution is historically and textually accurate, but it is far from the NRA’s reading. In fact, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 March 2018 at 8:50 am

Posted in Government, Guns, Law

The Tokugawa gun control plan

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James Wimberley has an interesting post at The Reality-Based Community:

Early firearms were heavily used in Japan in the civil wars of the 16th century, including by the Tokugawa faction that came out on top in 1600 and established the shogunate that lasted until the Meiji restoration of 1868. The Tokugawa ideal was a rigidly stratified and static traditional society, isolated from the outside world. Guns were among the disruptive European innovations that threatened this model, and had to be tamed as part of the overall strategy. The Tokugawa plan for gun control was one of slow strangulation. Gunmakers had to move to the capital Edo and work for the court. Demand was thus steadily shifted to luxury weapons, produced in smaller numbers. Guns did not disappear, but they were successfully marginalised in a now peaceful and regimented society.

American gun control advocates have focused entirely on demand, to little effect. It’s time to take a look at supply. A comprehensive policy would have to cover manufacture, distribution and imports. Let’s start with manufacture.

The guns sold to American civilians in such startling numbers are not made in the USA by divisions of big Pentagon contractors like Lockheed (F35, Gatling minigun), but by much smaller specialists. Some like the Barrett Company that makes large-calibre and very expensive sniper rifles ($8,500 each) are privately owned boutiques. As in most industries, the great majority of new guns sold are accounted for by a few larger companies. I relied on a good Mother Jones survey plus financial googling. Leaving out the foreigners, the American firms include:

  • American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) – owns Smith & Wesson brand. Sales $903m, Market cap $548m.
  • Sturm Ruger (RGR) – owns Remington, Bushmaster brands. Sales $679m, market cap $830m.
  • Vista Outdoor (VSTO) – Savage rifles, ammunition, other sporting goods. Sales $2.08 bn, market cap $988m.
  • Remington Outdoor Company (privately owned, in Chapter 11). Sales $865m (2016), net income $19m, debt ca. $950m. It could probably be bought for the face value of the debt.
  • O.F. Mossberg – privately owned, makes pump-action shotguns. Estimated global sales $185m. Valued at the Ruger ratio, approximate value $233m.

Have I left anybody out? Corrections welcome.

So the market value of the bulk of the American domestic gunmaking industry is about $3.5 bn. Any liberal multibillionaire (perhaps with an assist from crowdfunding) could buy the entire industry for $5bn or so. For the government, it’s pocket change.

The ownership strategy would not be profit-maximising. It would include:

  1. Maintaining current sales to the military and (with less marketing effort) law enforcement;
  2. Dropping all sales to civilians of semi-automatic weapons, keeping only two-shot shotguns, one-shot bolt-action hunting rifles, and revolvers;
  3. Selling only through retailers committing to an enforceable code of practice including full background checks;
  4. Setting up an attack-dog legal department to protect patent and trademark IP very aggressively, to discourage new entrants;
  5. Dropping all connection with the NRA or other gun advocacy organisations.

For a few years, the gunmakers would lose money. So you have to add maybe another $1bn for restructuring costs. These would never be recovered, and represent the permanent net cost of the operation.

Nationalisation is clearly the first choice. It would mark a return to the early days of gunmaking, when as a critical industry for dynastic or national security it was typically carried out in state arsenals. Coercive nationalisation is the only way of making the takeover comprehensive. The liberal billionaire has no way of forcing say Ronnie Barrett to stop selling upmarket sniper rifles to the few civilians capable of using them, or others from starting new firms.

But it’s not likely that this would be a major problem. The trade has very high regulatory and reputational risks, and would be unattractive to most venture capitalists. Money talks, and the boutiques could still sell to the military and law enforcement. Their products would be expensive from the small scale of production. (According to the website of the famous London gunmaker Purdey, a second-hand shotgun can be had for £89,000, and a new single-shot hunting rifle for a mere £25,000. Ieyasu would have bought both.) Hardly any money would find its way to the NRA, breaking the cash and ideological nexus between gunmakers and gun nuts.

A chokehold on supply of new domestic weapons would only be a start, but it creates a breathing space to tackle two other issues.

Imports could flood in replacing the lost domestic weapons. This could only be stopped by federal government action: bans on semi-automatics or very steep tariffs. The political point here is that Beretta, Glock, Sig-Sauer and Taurus – much less the nameless makers of cheap Saturday-night specials – have few votes in the states and little leverage in Washington. If nationalisation is politically feasible, so are import controls. It’s a bigger problem for the altruistic billionaire: the money could be wasted, and the investment would be a leap of faith in Democratic control in Washington.

The other problem is much bigger:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 March 2018 at 7:31 pm

Posted in Congress, Government, Guns, Law

Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?

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Jeremy Adam Smith writes in Scientific American:

Since the 2008 election of President Obama, the number of firearmsmanufactured in the U.S. has tripled, while imports have doubled. This doesn’t mean more households have guns than ever before—that percentage has stayed fairly steady for decades. Rather, more guns are being stockpiled by a small number of individuals. Three percent of the population now owns half of the country’s firearms, says a recent, definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University.

So, who is buying all these guns—and why?

The short, broad-brush answer to the first part of that question is this: men, who on average possess almost twice the number of guns female owners do. But not all men. Some groups of men are much more avid gun consumers than others. The American citizen most likely to own a gun is a white male—but not just any white guy. According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.

These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated. For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious—and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives. Taken together, these studies describe a population that is struggling to find a new story—one in which they are once again the heroes.


When Northland College sociologist Angela Stroud studied applications for licenses to carry concealed firearms in Texas, which exploded after President Obama was elected, she found applicants were overwhelmingly dominated by white men. In interviews, they told her that they wanted to protect themselves and the people they love.

“When men became fathers or got married, they started to feel very vulnerable, like they couldn’t protect families,” she says. “For them, owning a weapon is part of what it means to be a good husband a good father.” That meaning is “rooted in fear and vulnerability—very motivating emotions.”

But Stroud also discovered another motivation: racial anxiety. “A lot of people talked about how important Obama was to get a concealed-carry license: ‘He’s for free health care, he’s for welfare.’ They were asking, ‘Whatever happened to hard work?’” Obama’s presidency, they feared, would empower minorities to threaten their property and families.

The insight Stroud gained from her interviews is backed up by many, many studies. A 2013 paper by a team of United Kingdom researchers found that a one-point jump in the scale they used to measure racism increased the odds of owning a gun by 50 percent. A 2016 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that racial resentment among whites fueled opposition to gun control. This drives political affiliations: A 2017 study in the Social Studies Quarterly found that gun owners had become 50 percent more likely to vote Republican since 1972—and that gun culture had become strongly associated with explicit racism.

For many conservative men, the gun feels like a force for order in a chaotic world, suggests a study published in December of last year. In a series of three experiments, Steven Shepherd and Aaron C. Kay asked hundreds of liberals and conservatives to imagine holding a handgun—and found that conservatives felt less risk and greater personal control than liberal counterparts.

This wasn’t about familiarity with real-world guns—gun ownership and experience did not affect results. Instead, conservative attachment to guns was based entirely on ideology and emotions.


That’s an insight echoed by another study published last year. Baylor University sociologists Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken created a “gun empowerment scale” designed to measure how a nationally representative sample of almost 600 owners felt about their weapons. Their study found that people at the highest level of their scale—the ones who felt most emotionally and morally attached to their guns—were 78 percent white and 65 percent male.

“We found that white men who have experienced economic setbacks or worry about their economic futures are the group of owners most attached to their guns,” says Froese. “Those with high attachment felt that having a gun made them a better and more respected member of their communities.”

That wasn’t true for women and non-whites. In other words, they may have suffered setbacks—but women and people of color weren’t turning to guns to make themselves feel better. “This suggests that these owners have other sources of meaning and coping when facing hard times,” notes Froese—often, religion. Indeed, Froese and Mencken found that religious faith seemed to put the brakes on white men’s attachment to guns.

For these economically insecure, irreligious white men, “the gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence, two things white males are worried about,” says Froese. “Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.”

Both Froese and Stroud found pervasive anti-government sentiments among their study participants. “This is interesting because these men tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the ‘nation,’ says Froese. “On that point, I expect that many in this group see the ‘nation’ as being white.”

Investing guns with this kind of moral and emotional meaning has many consequences, the researchers say. “Put simply, owners who are more attached to their guns are most likely to believe that guns are a solution to our social ills,” says Froese. “For them, more ‘good’ people with guns would drastically reduce violence and increase civility. Again, it reflects a hero narrative, which many white man long to feel a part of.”

Stroud’s work echoes this conclusion. “They tell themselves all kinds of stories about criminals and criminal victimization,” she says. “But the story isn’t just about criminals. It’s about the good guy—and that’s how they see themselves: ‘I work hard, I take care of my family, and there are people who aren’t like that.’ When we tell stories about the Other, we’re really telling stories about ourselves.”


Unfortunately, the people most likely to be killed by the guns of white men aren’t the “bad guys,” presumably criminals or terrorists. It’s themselves—and their families.

White men aren’t just the Americans most likely to own guns; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’re also the people most likely to put them in their own mouths and pull the trigger, especially when they’re in some kind of economic distress. A white man is three times more likely to shoot himself than a black man—while the chances that a white man will be killed by a black man are extremely slight. Most murders and shoot-outs don’t happen between strangers. They unfold within social networks, among people of the same race.

A gun in the home is far more likely to kill or wound the people who live there than is a burglar or serial killer. Most of the time, according to every single study that’s ever been done about interpersonal gun violence, the dead and wounded know the people who shot them. A gun in the home makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her husband. Every week in America, 136 children and teenagers are shot—and more often than not, it’s a sibling, friend, parent, or relative who holds the gun. For every homicide deemed justified by the police, guns are used in 78 suicides. As a new study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine once again shows us, restrictive gun laws don’t prevent white men from defending themselves and their families. Instead, those laws stop them from shooting themselves and each other.

What are the solutions? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 March 2018 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Guns, Science

Good guy with a gun: Gun-trained teacher accidentally discharges firearm in Calif. classroom, injuring student

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This is very near where we lived before the move. Going from the south to north along the shore you encounter Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Seaside, and Sand City, each city running into the next with no space between. Fred Barbash reports in the Washington Post:

A teacher who is also a reserve police officer trained in firearm use accidentally discharged a gun Tuesday at Seaside High School in Monterey County, Calif., during a class devoted to public safety. A male student was reported to have sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The weapon, which was not described, was pointed at the ceiling, according to a statement from the school, and debris fell from the ceiling.
Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen told the Monterey County Weeklythat a male student was “struck in the neck by ‘debris or fragmentation’ from something overhead.” Pridgen said whatever hit the student was not a bullet.
However, the student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, told KSBW 8 that it was his understanding that fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged in the boy’s neck. The father said the teacher told the class before pointing the gun at the ceiling that he was doing so to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded, something that can be determined visually.
“It’s the craziest thing,” Gonzales told the station. “It could have been very bad.”
Gonzales said he learned about the incident when his 17-year-old son came home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck.
“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be okay. I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it,” the father told the TV station. . .

Continue reading.

Sooner or later we’ll find out what happens when a truculent and hostile teenager baits an angry armed teacher…

Written by LeisureGuy

14 March 2018 at 9:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Education, Guns

A big divide over gun policy between gun owners who are NRA members and those who are not

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Matt Berman and Paul McLeod report in Buzzfeed:

Gun owners who are members of the National Rifle Association and those who are not are sharply divided over support for new gun control proposals, according to a new Ipsos/BuzzFeed News poll.

A slew of new proposals have come out of Congress and the White House in the weeks since 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. President Donald Trump has personally suggested ideas ranging from limiting access to certain types of guns to arming teachers or professionals within schools.

Some ideas have more buy-in with gun owners than others.

Approximately 76% of gun owners who are not members of the NRA said they’d support raising the minimum age for buying a high-capacity semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15 from 18 to 21. That proposal even has substantial backing among gun-owning NRA members: 53% support it, with only 25% strongly opposed.

But while raising the legal age for ownership for all firearms from 18 to 21 has support from 64% of gun owners who aren’t NRA members, just 40% of NRA-member gun owners would back such a plan. There’s also a significant split on support for banning the AR-15 nationwide: 45% of gun owners who aren’t NRA members support a ban, compared to only 24% of gun owners who are members.

And a majority of gun owners — 69% of NRA members and 58% of nonmembers — said they believed banning the AR-15 would be the first step toward more restrictive gun laws.

The idea of training and allowing teachers to carry guns at schools also has broad support among gun owners, but especially among NRA members — 79% of owners who are NRA members would back that plan, as would 58% of nonmember owners. NRA members are most enthusiastic about the idea, though: 58% of gun-owning members strongly support the plan, versus 31% of nonmembers. . .

Continue reading.

More at the link, including graphs and charts.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 March 2018 at 9:15 am

Posted in Daily life, Guns, Law

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