Alrighty, I am going to break out my first post of the new year in spectacular fashion.  I have been biting my tongue on this subject since the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.  In reality I have been doing so in the days after as people and groups on both sides of the issue have been running their mouths in the most ignorant of fashion.  I have added my two cents in here and there in casual conversation but other than some semantic differences in interpretation and application there has not been much in the way in differing opinion; the majority of the conversation has been with peers and co-workers and generally we all feel the same about guns, and while some have a much higher degree of proficiency with them, we all have the same general degree of training in their use.  A level of training I might add that is overall, to a much higher degree of proficiency than the rest of the military and by far significantly higher than your average civilian.

First, let me start with a declaration of a belief in the 2nd Amendment and the right of citizens to bear arms.  According to Cornell University Law School the 2nd Amendment reads:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Now, a little clarification on my position.  As much as I believe in the right to own guns, I do believe that there needs to be some fundamental changes in the in the application of the existing laws in regards to guns.  There needs to be a plugging of some serious loopholes that currently allow people who should not have them (i.e. felons) and the ability to make “straw” purchases without the additional requirement of reporting who those weapons have been sold to needs to be done away with.  In most states it is only a crime for a dealer to not report the sale of a firearm; once it has been purchased in many places it can be sold or passed on without reporting it.  Another thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the mental health issue.  That above all is a very sticky proposition but none the less, it is something that needs to be addressed.

I once learned in a statistics class that statistics as a science is meant to be interpreted in multiple ways and that even the most benign of statistics can be made out to be in favor of whomever is presenting them.  So, while I am going to lay out a few statistics over the next couple of paragraphs I am going to keep them very simplistic and use them as examples rather than a means to further the agenda on one side or the other.  For both of my examples I was fortunate enough to find stats for the same year (2009) and from two different sources.

First I am going to cover deaths by drunk driving.  These stats come from AlcoholAlert.com.  According to the website:

Of the 10,839 people who died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2009, 7,281 (67%) were drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. The remaining fatalities consisted of 2,891 (27%) motor vehicle occupants and 667 (6%) nonoccupants.

So, just a little extrapolation of the data.  Driving which is a PRIVILEGE in all 50 states has a country wide total of 10,839 deaths due to drunken driving.  Of that number all but 667 were either driver or occupant of the car.  How many of those drivers had multiple DUI convictions, I was unable to find that data.  Another fact that could be explored further is of those with multiple convictions, how many had more than two convictions?  In all 50 states were it is illegal to drive with a BAC over .08, I would wager to guess that a significant number of these fatalities were committed by someone who had at a minimum one prior DUI conviction, yet there is little more than lip-service paid to changing or even requiring much better enforcement of the existing state statutes concerning DUI.  Right here in Fayetteville, NC it is a cottage industry for local attorneys to plea away DUI’s through the “good-old boy” legal network.

So lets move on to some firearm related death statistics for 2009 provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

Keep in mind that gun ownership with certain legal exceptions is a RIGHT.

Firearm homicides

  • Number of deaths: 11,493
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.7

First thing I will admit is that the number of homicides by firearms is higher than deaths by vehicle involving a drunk driver.  Point stipulated.  What I could not find any clarifying information on is what specifically was the qualifying criteria for homicide by firearm.  I mention this because one example I would use is a child who finds their parents unsecured firearm and shoots someone, even possibly another child, because they thought they were “playing” with a gun, when in all actuality they were handling a dangerous weapon that was negligently left for them to find.  By all definitions this would be considered a homicide, yet one would hope that it lacks the malice of say a drive-by shooting or a gang assassination.  It is a matter of semantics when it concerns the loss of life but my view is a little different than most when it comes to malicious intent and a violent outcome due to negligence.

So now for the part that I hope generates some discussion, maybe even pisses a few people off.  As I stated earlier, I agree with the right to own a gun, but here are a few things I find wrong with arguments on both sides of the equation and a few things I think need some changes made.

1.  The 2nd Amendment is not going to be repealed so focus your efforts elsewhere.  Will there be some gun reform, yes, but hopefully, most likely not though, it will involve some changes that will be for the better without infringing upon the rights of legal gun owners.  At least the perception to many may be that their rights are infringed upon, but I will bet they will mostly fall into the asshat category that I would not be remotely comfortable being around with them anyhow.

2.  Most of the people who are screaming for an “assault gun” ban or limiting of ammunition magazines, or here is the best one, “semi-automatic” weapons, really need to put some effort into educating themselves into the device they wish to ban.  Diane Feinstein really looked like an asshole waving her “assault” weapon around with her finger on the trigger in demonstration of the type of weapon she feels should not be in the hands of law-abiding citizens (and I mean that in the literal sense of the term).  If one of my subordinates did that, even knowing the weapon was indeed not loaded, there would be hell for them to pay.  A few of my former soldiers who read this blog can attest to the truthfulness of that statement because they felt the results of negligently handling a weapon and I am quite sure it was a lesson they only needed once.

3.  By far, with some exceptions I will not delve too far into right now, the stupidest idea I have heard to date is the idea that arming teachers is a good idea.  First, the exception; I will agree that there are some schools so geographically distanced from immediate help and low in student population, that may legitimately benefit from having at least a portion of the staff sufficiently trained and armed.  This training should include mandatory and standardized qualification and continuing education in use and techniques.  Now why is it a bad idea?  I work with some of the best trained individuals when it comes to shooting in stressful situations, they are by far the best in the business.  How did they get that way?  They trained, they continue to train, constantly, and they have perfected their skills in every combat situation imaginable.  For all the hours and thousands upon thousands of rounds they have shot, as individual and highly effective members of a team, they still make mistakes from time to time.  It is also expensive to maintain this level of proficiency.  There is no conceivable way that a school system can afford to maintain anything close to this level of proficiency in a teacher to a level that I am sure will be dictated by the state rather than a federal standard.  Hell, teachers pay for school supplies out of their own pockets to teach our kids with because the school systems cannot afford it.

4.  Schools would better be served in mandating regular drills and additional teacher training in how to account for the children, secure them in the rooms or evacuate them, all while maintaining positive control of the students.  A teacher that is confronting anyone attempting violence in a school without direct threat to themselves or their students is not bravely sacrificing themselves for the children, they are putting children’s lives further at risk.  Direct threat is one thing, leaving children’s lives to go and take care of the situation is a gamble that they should not be taking, especially when it is my child’s life on the line.

5. Someone who shoots an intruder in the home is one thing.  Attempting to take down a shooter wearing armor in a crowded theatre, filled with smoke, noise, confusion, and panic is a situation even the highly-skilled individuals I spoke about before would find challenging.  You are comparing apples and oranges.  One is essentially a personal confrontation involving the use of force to protect what is yours, generally only involving a combating of fear and digging deep enough to pull the trigger.  I personally believe it is something that just about anyone could do, if not kill the intruder than wound them.  While I agree that in a crowd situation it is more than possible that simply allowing an attacker to stare down the business end of a pistol could be enough persuasion to bring it to a conclusion, it is by far not a guarantee.  I also agree that the opportunity may present itself in which an armed individual may be able to deconflict the situation by applying judicious use of the trigger to bring down a shooter, without harming anyone else, but again that is not a guarantee.  I wrote a while back about the members of the NYPD who were forced to shoot someone in public, on a crowded street.  They were able to kill the perpetrator, but unfortunately all 7 of the bystanders who were shot were done so by the police officers, not the person who already had killed his former boss.

6.  One change I would recommend a few changes that probably need some discussion, but I think I would be a good start.  Anyone who is currently going through any type of domestic abuse investigation, especially if there is a restraining order in place should be required to voluntarily turn over their weapons until the investigation is completed and/or charges have been brought.  At worst it would provide a decompression period in which someone may act out passionately rather than taking the time to decompress and bring clarity to the situation.  I in no way advocate the witch hunt methodology but crimes of passion are more spontaneous than they are planned and contrived.  Someone bent on murder is going to do it one way or another, but someone who is thinking of acting out that may not if the means are temporarily removed.  The idea needs work but it would be a good place to start.

7.  Mental health needs to be considered as well.  I am not versed enough on the subject, but in my opinion if there is a known person with some form of mental issue in the household, it should be extra important that the gun owners are required to insure those weapons are not readily available to be used by those persons.  That includes children, especially children.

8.  I am going to use the Trayvon Martin example for a moment.  Standing your ground is not self-defense when you instigate the situation.  I will agree that even if you instigate, and there are no weapons involved, you should be able to defend yourself with a reasonable level of force that both deters the opposing party and limits the damage to your own person.  But like my dad told me when I was a kid, you pick the fight and get your ass whooped, you just got your ass whooped and a valuable lesson in life.  You pick the fight and then shoot and/or kill them because they were monkey-stomping your ass, you are culpable to some level.  After all, you probably would not have been in the situation had you not started it in the first place.

Lastly, a gun is a tool.  It is not a substitute for the male appendage (that would be a corvette).  It is a tool that has a purpose, that purpose is to kill.  There are numerous other activities such as target shooting that can be accomplished with them.  For some that is a form of therapy, but, when the first metal projectile was forcibly sent down a barrel, powered by a small controlled detonation, it was done with the intent to kill an enemy, or dinner, or any animal that was attempting to eat you.  Used safely it can be a fun and disciplined activity, but not used safely or for its true intended purpose, it is a deadly weapon.

I would love to see this turn into a good debate, but be warned, bring you info and your A game.  Try to just bust me out and you better have the creds to do it.  Say the same thing over and over and just try to throw some numbers out without context and you will get no reply.  Act like an asshole and I will simply delete you.

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Comments
  1. Dan A. says:

    Comparing gun rights to driving privileges is a good place to start this reply. I need to drive in order to provide for my family. 100 years ago I may have needed a gun to provide for my family.

    Societies were differently the past. Agreed? Back then there wasn’t any local police department to keep the peace. Organized religious beliefs were needed in order to control the population by instilling a kind of self policing of individuals activities. No one was going to steal or screw their neighbors wife if it meant they’d go to he’ll. I don’t want to get off track here. Point is our society has evolved. Law enforcement is more capable and doesn’t need average citizens self policing to the degree of arming themselves.

    Today our average citizens do not need guns. Don’t kid yourself. To most owners, guns are not purchased for use as a tool nor ever used as a tool. Most likely they will be taken out and used for fun and recreation which makes them toys. Toys that can and do kill children.

    I’ll say it. Guns are most of the time purchased by cowards (myself included).

    I have evolved. Today I have no guns and don’t have any intension of ever owning one. I don’t need a gun to provided for or to protect my family. If someone is stupid enough to break in my house while I’m home, I am confident I will bash their head in with a bat whether they are armed or unarmed. If our country ever elects a dictator I am confident I and many others can over through him/her just as easily as they did during the arab spring. Social media is a more powerful and more effective “tool”.

    We’ve evolved past needing guns.

    Like

    • Dan, thank you for your reply.

      I am not sure if we have really evolved past the point of needing guns. There are definitely portions of the country in which law enforcement has a presence, but it is not sufficient or in in great enough force to provide for everyone. There are many rural areas which simply cannot afford enough police officers for the amount of geography vice population they are sworn to protect.
      I am a 2nd Amendment advocate, but I do see the for an evolution and change in the current way we do business. Simply enforcing the existing laws across the board would be a good start. The Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution with change in mind, it should not be a surprise to the people of this country when it happens, no matter how hard that change may be.
      The gun was always intended to be a tool. Through the years it has been glamorized and presented as an extension of ourselves, Until the gun is again treated as the tool it was created to be there will always be a presumption that it is a device for dramatic effect in all the gory things that entails.
      Other countries have much more gun violence than we do. The reason we hear so much less about them is because our country is in love with statistics and as such we keep records of everything ad nauseum. If someone was actually able to keep track of every AK-47 that Russia and China have populated in their own shadow wars I think the numbers would seem much better in the eyes of Americans. The problem is the US is the only country that produces its weapons with serial numbers, therefore it is much easier to point the finger back to the originating place.

      Again, thank you for your reply.

      Like

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