My belief is that making it socially unacceptable to use weapons for entertainment will, in the long run, save many more lives than changing gun laws. (By “entertainment” I mean shooting for the hell of it. I regard hunting as a serious endeavor, not light entertainment.) I used to shoot when I was a teenager decades ago. I enjoyed it. There was a zen to it – control your muscles, control your breathing. Picking up a rifle also seemed a bit like having a wild carnivore eat out of your hand. There was danger and the potential for things to go badly wrong but I had it under control. There was a rush in that. Much as I enjoyed shooting then though, I’m done. We need to renounce shooting as recreation. Guns are not toys for grown-ups. They’re machines designed to kill.
From John Feinblatt’s, Ban the Open Carry of Firearms:
When militia members and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Va., last Saturday with Nazi flags and racist placards, many of them also carried firearms openly, including semiautomatic weapons. They came to intimidate and terrify protesters and the police. If you read reports of the physical attacks they abetted, apparently their plan worked.
They might try to rationalize their conduct as protected by the First and Second Amendments, but let’s not be fooled. Those who came to Charlottesville openly carrying firearms were neither conveying a nonviolent political message, nor engaged in self-defense nor protecting hearth and home.
Plain and simple, public terror is not protected under the Constitution. That has been the case throughout history. And now is the time to look to that history and prohibit open carry, before the next Charlottesville.
Historically, lawmakers have deemed open carry a threat to public safety. Under English common law, a group of armed protesters constituted a riot, and some American colonies prohibited public carry specifically because it caused public terror. During Reconstruction, the military governments overseeing much of the South responded to racially motivated terror (including the murder of dozens of freedmen and Republicans at the 1866 Louisiana Constitutional Convention) by prohibiting public carry either generally or at political gatherings and polling places. Later, in 1886, a Supreme Court decision, Presser v. Illinois, upheld a law forbidding groups of men to “parade with arms in cities and towns unless authorized.” For states, such a law was “necessary to the public peace, safety and good order.”
In other words, our political forebears would not have tolerated open carry as racially motivated terrorists practiced it in Charlottesville. They did not view open carry as protected speech. According to the framers, the First Amendment protected the right to “peaceably” — not violently or threateningly — assemble. The Second Amendment did not protect private paramilitary organizations or an individual menacingly carrying a loaded weapon. Open carry was antithetical to “the public peace.” Lawmakers were not about to let people take the law into their own hands, so they proactively and explicitly prohibited it.
Charlie Pierce observes:
The NRA argument [for gun privileges] boils down to a belief that massacres are part of the price of constitutional liberty.
Yes, let’s call it what it is. Nothing has changed since Newtown. As a society, we consider the periodic slaughter of children and other non-combatants an acceptable price to pay for the privilege of owning and using guns. The polls suggest that a significant majority support “common sense gun control” but look at who we elect to government. Americans have had opportunity after opportunity to elect representatives who would act forcefully to reduce gun violence and we don’t do it. We vote in NRA supporters instead.
Let’s recognize what we do when we do that, condemn it, and choose to act differently. Contemporary gun advocacy is not about outdoorsmen having the opportunity to hunt and it has nothing to do with self-defense. Contemporary gun advocacy is in the tradition of the genocide of Native Americans, terrorism of African-Americans, and seditious conspiracy against democratically-elected government. White supremacy is central to it. More generally, gun advocacy is part of a culture – our culture – that celebrates violence as a means of holding power over others. To be honest, I’m skeptical that more gun laws now would address the core problem. They might help but they’re secondary. Until we stop celebrating and rewarding violence of any kind, mass shootings and other gun violence will persist.
From the New York Times:
Islamic extremists, non-Islamic extremists, whatever. What gets my attention is the rapid growth since ca. 2008 in the overall number of deaths.
ADDENDUM 12/15/2015: FYI, you’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist. Since 2001 and counting 9/11, there have been roughly 100x more firearms-related deaths in the US than there have been terrorism-related deaths. If you start counting after 9/11 then there have been about 1000x more firearms-related deaths than terrorism-related deaths.
I’ll start with easy one: The police have automatic weapons. (Or are the just semi? Can’t tell. Doesn’t matter anyway.) In the civilized world riot police carry shields and truncheons. Sending in a heavily-armed paramilitary force is not how responsible people act to de-escalate a tense situation.
A friend of mine once said, “There are a lot of assholes in the world. The police are who we hire to be assholes back to them.” While I don’t disagree with the sentiment in general, the devil is in the details. The militarization of the police is bad news.
The Second 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.
“The legal lesson for Floridians [from the Zimmerman case]: in any altercation, however minor, the easiest way to avoid criminal liability is to kill the counterparty.”
A non-profit group plans to hand out free shotguns to residents of Tucson, Arizona in an effort to show that more guns mean less crime.
The Houston, Texas-based Armed Citizens Project has raised about $12,000 or enough to fund about 36 weapons, Shaun McClusky, a Tucson realtor who launched the Tucson effort, told Reuters on Friday.
The group has begun tracking illegal activity in three crime-ridden neighborhoods and will continue to monitor the crime rate after guns are distributed.
“This is about public safety. This is about people protecting themselves,” said McClusky, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in the city’s last election.
Each single-shot weapon will come with a lock and training. Single-shot weapons were chosen because they are inexpensive and are unlikely to be stolen as criminals don’t want them, McClusky said.
Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik, a Democrat who has advocated for stricter gun controls in Tucson does not agree with the underlying premise of the giveaway program.
“To suggest that giving guns to people in high-crime neighborhoods will make them safer is ridiculous. I think it’s dangerous,” Kozachik said.
He called the program a “solution seeking a problem,” and predicted city residents will reject the program as it becomes more widely publicized…
Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out…