Monday, December 30, 2013


The NYT Entrely Loses the Point, Again.

Fresh off the paper's failed triumph trying to rewrite the history of the Benghazi attack ("We failed to find any evidence of al Quaeda influence because we totally didn't look for it") the NYT editorial board goes back to the well, once more backing serious infringements on our right to keep and bear firearms here. First paragraph.

Lawmakers who refuse to support effective gun safety measures often prefer to talk about better screening of the mentally ill to identify deranged would-be perpetrators before they can carry out mass shootings. This is, of course, a political dodge. Even in the handful of states where law enforcement agencies are trying to confiscate the guns of unstable individuals, state and federal laws too often enable the mentally ill to reclaim their guns as a right under the Second Amendment.

Many lawmakers don't support any gun control laws (now called 'gun safety measures') because none of them are effective; that is, as Thomas Jefferson, quoting Beccaria, wrote, because gun control laws only succeed in disarming the law abiding.

We never lose our 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th or 8th Amendment rights no matter what we do. For example, if we lie under oath (like President Clinton) or defame someone (like the Daily Mail did to Kiera Knightly), we still can talk about anything we want the very next second. There can be no prior restraint of our speech absent extraordinary (and so extraordinary as to be largely mythical) circumstances.

We can lose our 2nd Amendment rights and the list of things that can cause this loss, which list used to be two items long, is now low double digits long. That said, I'm OK with completely, floridly psychotic people, who are a danger to themselves or others, not being able to own a gun legally. What dodge is it, political or otherwise, to seek to enforce already existing laws that prohibit just such a thing? This editorial starts fuzzily and then falls totally off the table.

The editorial talks about a few crazy people apparently not adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution (the legal criteria on the BATFE form) who were crazy and did crazy things but did not lose their 2nd Amendment rights. I just couldn't see what those examples meant to the thesis of the editorial. Are they for taking guns from crazy people or is that merely a political dodge of the real problem? To say this thing fails to hang together logically is being very kind in criticizing it. It's like the authors were schizophrenic about guns and madness, or something. Here's the big finish.

Most mentally ill persons are not violent, though The Times’s analysis of 180 confiscation cases in Connecticut (dealing with people posing an imminent risk of injury to themselves or others) found that close to 40 percent of those cases involved people with serious mental illness. The common denominator in gun violence, however, is not deranged individuals; it is the easy access to assault rifles and other high-powered weapons afforded all Americans. A few determined states are attempting to deal with this issue, but real solutions must involve federal legislation and national standards, which are nowhere in sight.

The common denominator in gun violence is not easy access to assault rifles. Rifles used in gun violence is the opposite of a common denominator, it is a rara avis. In 2012, of the 8,855 murders where a firearm was known to have been used, there were only 332 cases where a rifle of any kind was known to have been used. That's 3.74%. Many more people were stabbed, beaten to death with clubs, etc or with hands and feet. Use of assault rifles to murder someone is even rarer, as most rifles in America do not fit the definition of assault rifle. The statement about a non-existent common denominator is just plain stupidity, a non-sequitur stupidity at that.

The common denominator for the recent, tragic mass murders seems rather to be crazy people with a gun, usually in a gun free zone. I'm thinking of Cho at Va Tech, Loughner in Arizona, Holmes in Aurora, Lanza at Newtown and Alexis in the DC Navy Yard, but I'm sure there are plenty more I've forgotten. Of these, only Holmes and Lanza used an AR 15 type rifle, the rest used a shotgun or one or two handguns. 2 out of 5 is not my idea of a common denominator. It's no one's idea of one except to the super geniuses at the NYT.

Also, and sorry to have to repeat this, again, an assault rifle by definition shoots a smaller bullet in a smaller case with less powder than a high powered rifle, or a full sized bullet with a reduced amount of powder in the smaller case than a high powered rifle (and there is no such thing as a high powered handgun). Assault rifles are in no way high-powered. More ignorance.

If you don't know squat about guns, don't try to lecture me on what we need to do about them.


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