Friday, August 28, 2015


Bring Out the Template

Nicholas Kristof is not my favorite columnist at the NYT; in fact, I rarely read anyone there more than a couple of times a year. But when I read this, I had a profound sense of deja vu, and I had to think back to the last time I read Kristof. It turns out that for each shooting, where he gives a rat's behind about the victims, he drags out the same column and fills in the blanks. It's never about the shooter or victims with Kristof, each criminal tragedy is a chance for him once again call for more legislation about guns. It's always about trampling on an actual, in writing, in the Constitution (amendments thereto) right in the wan hope of saving lives.

So I drag out my tried and true response: If the murder statute didn't stop the murderer, what makes you think any other law will?

It's a question to which I have never received a response.

He says we need to regulate the safety of firearms as we have regulated the safety of cars. This is a stupid comparison, because cars are meant to carry us from point A to B and it is only carelessness and bad luck which tangentially cause 33,000 deaths in cars each year (and that number is way down from even 25 years ago when it was 50,000 per year). A gun, on the other hand is specifically designed and intended to kill, to put a metal pellet at speed into flesh, and for handguns, into human flesh. They are designed to cause death as their primary function. There is no safety fix for that. It is moronic to talk about making guns safer in a similar way it would be moronic not to try to make cars safer. And it sounds stupider every time he repeats it.

He then talks about our gun homicide rate but includes suicides in that figure. That's dishonest because banning or limiting access to gun doesn't really affect the rate of suicide, it just affects the method used to self murder. So including the suicide deaths merely makes the problem with gun violence seem worse and nothing Kristof and his ilk propose will touch the suicide rate. Don't believe me? Let's start with Kristof:

Australia is a model. In 1996, after a mass shooting there, the country united behind tougher firearm restrictions. The Journal of Public Health Policy notes that the firearm suicide rate dropped by half in Australia over the next seven years, and the firearm homicide rate was almost halved.
Firearm suicides were halved! Wow, I guess that means that there were far fewer suicides down there then, right? No, people just began to hang themselves more. Here are the numbers of suicides from Australia's official statistics for the following years:

1994     2,258
1995     2,367
1996     2,393  (this is the year the gun bans were passed)
1997     2,722
1998     2,683
1999     2,492
2000     2,362
2001     2,457
2002     2.320
2003     2,214
2004     2,098
2005     2,102
2006     1,799
2007     1,881 (hooray! suicides are down some 23%, maybe there is something to gun bans)
2008     2,282
2009     2,132
2010     2,361
2011     2,273
2012     2,535
2013     2,522  (no, darn, the rate is back up, in fact, it's higher than the pre-gun-ban rate. Hmmm)

So, using Australia as a model, banning certain types of guns here in America would have no effect on the actual number of suicides. It's like this for every "reasonable regulation" the gun haters propose. You degrade and infringe on the actual constitutional right and only the law abiding obey and the law serves no other useful purpose. But I do have to admire this: Kristof actually proposes a few regulation. Usually the lefty gun grabbers dodge the actual remedy part of gun control.

We need universal background checks with more rigorous screening, limits on gun purchases to one a month to reduce trafficking, safe storage requirements, serial number markings that are more difficult to obliterate, waiting periods to buy a handgun — and more research on what steps would actually save lives.

These proposed laws are each part of the old template. Let's keep with suicides for a bit. How are safe storage, more durable serial numbers and one gun purchase a month designed to stop suicides? No effect whatsoever. These three would also have no effect on gun crime either. You can hold two guns at one time but unless you bring them up to your eyes, like Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs, you can only aim one at a time. That's why gunmen usually have only one gun and multiple magazines for reloading. Silly, ineffective proposed gun laws.

The universal background checks have never been shown to stop or even slow, in the slightest way, gun crime (or even suicide using a gun) and the waiting period is such a loser that it has been nearly completely subsumed into the instant background check system.

I wonder how Kristof would feel about having fill out a form in order to get the government's permission to effect one's first amendment rights. He probably wouldn't be OK with it. Ditto for me and the second.

UPDATE: Now we have a study that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt what we gun nuts have long strongly suspected. Criminals don't buy guns at gun stores or gun shows. Nor do they obtain them from people who would obey the law regarding a "universal background check." Universal background checks would only inconvenience the law abiding without stopping gun crime in any appreciable way. Not my idea of a solution to gun violence.


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