William R. Barth: Gun politics-as-usual — no longer tolerable - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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William R. Barth: Gun politics-as-usual — no longer tolerable

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Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:00 pm

IN THE WAKE of the murderous rampage in Newtown, I found a longtime friend’s post on Facebook gripping. He is a retired career military officer, and a wounded Marine combat veteran of Vietnam — hardly the stuff of bleeding-hearts. He wrote:

“I’m a gun owner. That said, mass murder is generally not committed using a ball bat, a car, a bow and arrow, knife or ax. The hunting rifle, 6-shot revolver, shotgun or the crossbow are not weapons of choice for someone intent on making an evermore spectacular exit from life. In the face of repeated massacres of shoppers and school children, arguments for easy public access to assault weapons or high capacity handguns are wearing thinner every day.”

 

JOE SCARBOROUGH is a former four-term conservative Republican congressman from Florida — a man who received 100% approval from the National Rifle Association while in office — who now makes his living with the “Morning Joe” talkfest on MSNBC. Scarborough chats it up from a right-center perspective, but doesn’t do long-form commentary.

Until Monday morning, when he called for a reassessment of America’s paralysis on the issues of guns, mental illness and our violence-glorifying culture. One of the most powerful moments in his dissertation came when he quoted Lincoln, from an 1838 speech delivered in Springfield.

Lincoln said: “Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”

 

I, TOO, AM a gun owner, as are my sons. I grew up in rural America and learned by my father’s hand how to properly handle firearms. I’m a firm believer in Second Amendment rights for sport, to protect my family, for peace of mind, for American heritage and tradition.

But no one needs military-style assault weapons. No one needs ammo magazines that can hold 30 or more cartridges. No one needs armor piercing bullets.

Those who defend such firepower will find themselves increasingly isolated. Consider the stance of Wisconsin state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, one of the leading majority legislators, who told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel part of the problem is that Wisconsin’s new concealed carry law banned possession of weapons at schoolhouses.

“When you single out that schools will not have that option, that signals to perpetrators and that is an issue. I think we need to talk about it, advertising where people aren’t able to protect themselves.”

Seriously? How did that work out for Jared Loughner’s victims outside a Safeway in Arizona? Or James Holmes’ victims at a movie theater in Colorado? Or Radcliffe Haughton’s victims at the Azana Spa in Brookfield?

 

DARLING’S HARDLINE allegiance to opposition of any and all talk about sensible limitations is as stupid as the arguments of others that gun-control legislation alone could solve the problem. There is no magic. Danger will always be part of life. But that doesn’t mean we should tolerate closed-minded leaders who say we’re politically powerless to take any rational action to protect ourselves and our children. The argument that anything less than the free flow of weapons and ammunition is a violation of citizen sovereignty is, in a word, absurd.

I dare say few Americans believe more strongly in First Amendment rights than I do. But I also accept that First Amendment rights are not absolute. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes defined it, noting one cannot shout fire in a crowded theater. Neither can one peddle porn to first-graders.

Second Amendment rights also must be subject to sensible regulation. The do-nothing politicians must be made to fear voters more than they fear the gun lobby’s special interests. Continued inaction on weapons-of-choice for assassins must end.

IT REMAINS TRUE, however, that guns don’t kill people — people kill people. Therefore, addressing gun issues is, at best, just an incremental improvement. The recurring theme in these mass slaughters is mental illness. America’s mental health system is dangerously deficient when it comes to identifying disturbed individuals and intervening.

We should also ask: Why are the killers always — or nearly always — young men? What’s wrong with our boys? Could the marketing to boys of violent video games and other Hollywood fare be a factor?

I will not even try to suggest an approach for reforming America’s mental health system. Instead, I urge readers to absorb the message of a mother published below. Consider it an urgent cry for help. Consider it a stark challenge to our dysfunctional, polarized political system.

 

William R. Barth is the Editor of the Beloit Daily News.

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41 comments:

  • Blah-de-Blah posted at 5:52 pm on Wed, Jan 2, 2013.

    Blah-de-Blah Posts: 140

    Look at you all. This is sickening. I remember seeing one of the most productive discussions I have ever seen on the BDN over a political issue that would normally spout angry fire, but now it has degraded to where you are now bickering and cracking out jokes over the potential slaughter of innocent children.

    This is the reason no progress can ever be made, because everyone rejects the opinions of others. Yes, maybe increasing the school budget may allow us to better secure our schools. However, we also need to be careful about overspending, considering that one of our biggest issues with the government right now is that they can't control their pocketbook. Perhaps any state surpluses could be utilized to increase security to the point where the state budget levels out. As for everything else mentioned, it is unimportant. Why? Because this discussion is on GUN CONTROL, not pensions or any other hoopla.

    I am very susceptible to change in opinion. Why? Because I research and absorb the opinions and facts of others on both sides to form my own opinions. I'm not an expert on everything, nor do I know everything. Perhaps you all could learn to do the same [sad]

     
  • lilmonster posted at 9:16 am on Wed, Jan 2, 2013.

    lilmonster Posts: 1143

    "What I find very interesting is when I asked ozzman99 in a previous blog .."You say you own one of these ' assault rifles". I, too, am a gun owner with guns suitable for hunting game, but I see no use for, or value of, a semi-automatic assault rifle style weapon, or one of those semi-automatic pistols that can hold 30 cartridges, or an Uzi, ect...." he failed to answer my question."

    Thanks to growing up in a house with a giant gun nut I have had the pleasure of shooting just about everything. We are also not hunters. If you take a gun like an ak and start unloading on an old water heater that is great fun. The value for me in the guns is the bang. I can shoot targets all day with a .22, but bust out a .50 cal desert eagle and the fun level goes up. It is fun to shoot a .38, but pull out a dirty hairy .44 with an 8" barrel and I'm going to have more fun. A regular 9 is fun to shoot, but an uzi just kicks up the fun. Think apple pie an ice cream. Apple pie is good, but add ice cream and it is great. Why do people want bigger fireworks? It is all about the bang.


    On a side note I see no value in killing animals.[innocent] Water heaters feel no pain.


     
  • billtinder posted at 9:03 am on Sat, Dec 29, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Awww cmon Delavan;

    It's only a cheeseburger!!![wink][wink]

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 7:14 pm on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I wouldn't have to give more on top of what I have already given up if not for the biggest cuts to education in the history of the state, bill. It doesn't surprise me that you would suggest teachers pay for the security of the community's children.

     
  • billtinder posted at 4:56 pm on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Well you know Delavan, if we could just get you teachers to chip in a little more towards your pension and health care costs; we could probably afford those upgrades that you have on your wish list. You wouldn't have to give up much, probably just a cheeseburger or two. It's for the good of the kids after all, so thanks in advance for your enthusiastic support!!!

     
  • js20094 posted at 4:12 pm on Wed, Dec 26, 2012.

    js20094 Posts: 1226

    Contrary to popular opinion, Beloit middle and high schools already have personnel that are police staffed on site, I'm told McNeel alone has at least 3, armed with tasers.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 9:31 am on Wed, Dec 26, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I think bill needs to go back on his meds. Both Lucky and I have shown resistance to some of the ideas presented not because we think they are bad ideas but because we are being realistic. I would love to have security doors or armed security in my building. Does my district have the money to pay for that? Not in this climate of the biggest cuts to education in the state's history. Whether or not you think its right, liability does factor into any school district's decisions, bill. It's got nothing to do with communism! And you complain about a lack of logic!

     
  • billtinder posted at 8:11 am on Wed, Dec 26, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Once again our resident closet-commie give good examples of the typical mindset, totally bereft of logic!
    Is the emphasis on preventing the slaughter of innocents? Apparently not, if the there's any chance of an all consuming liability issue. Wow, someone would have to take on a little more responsibility, with nothing to show for it except perhaps their own life and the lives of the children in their charge. Hardly worth the risk, when the ultimate goal is to violate the rights and freedoms of those Americans who would never harm them in some vain attempt at stopping those that would.
    Are all these domestic terrorist's attacks truly the work of mentally deranged minds? Or is there a darker, more insidious motivator, yet to be revealed? America has many enemies, and we would all be foolish to think that they all reside outside of our borders. In the meantime, I'll be keeping all means of defense at my disposal. If foolish liberals wish to surrender their rights, that's their business; but I grow tired of reminding the micromanaging busybodies that their rights stop where mine begin.

     
  • luckydog posted at 7:36 pm on Tue, Dec 25, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3629

    Mike, I like your comments on security doors. At the school where I work all doors are locked, but they all have glass panels. Full steel security doors would definately help, but problems remain. Those doors have to be opened to let the students in. A determined attacker could just rush the doors at that time. Also they are often unlocked after school hours because of sports practices which often are later in the evening. I'm not sure there is a definitive solution. I certainly don't want to see armed volunteers in the schools as the nutbag from the NRA suggested. Imagine the liability problems that would bring.

    As to undeclared wars, you are right. We haven't had a declared war sindce WWII. However from Korea to VietNam to the Middle East wars they have been approved by congress through continuing resolutions and the like. None of those wars could have continued for more than a short time had Congress not voted to fund them. Congress still holds the purse strings. Some of these were legitimate but others were approved by congress due to outright lying by presidents ( the Gulf of Tonkin resoulution and the spurious weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). But congress could stop these undeclared wars if they wanted to.

     
  • Mike_Zoril posted at 11:42 am on Mon, Dec 24, 2012.

    Mike_Zoril Posts: 2784

    You're right - the cheapest thing to do is absolutely nothing. However, I do think bullet proof doors are more affordable long-term vs. hiring a police officer. Perhaps some money could be saved by making every other or every third classroom a "safe room." An alarm could be sounded and students not already in a safe room would quickly go next door to the room that did have a bullet proof door. Of course they would be vulnerable for a few seconds in the hallway, but one crazy shooter cannot be everywhere in the school all at once.

    To answer your question on assault rifles - yes, I do. Joe Blow citizen with one assault rifle won't do much against an army, but several million citizens would. An armed citizenry is how our country gained independence from the British. Just having the citizens armed can prevent, limit, or slow down tyranny without a shot ever needing to be fired.

    The other checks and balances on government are failing, little by little. For example, did you know that only congress has the power to declare war? War has not been declared since WWII, so what the heck are our troops doing fighting in wars that were never declared? The Constitution gives the president the power of commander-in-chief, but that means he can have a role in strategic planning of a war that has already been declared - or in the case of an emergency, take immediate and temporary action until congress can convene and decide to declare war or not.

    President's Bush's war in Iraq and Afghanistan was never constitutional and nobody ever did anything to stop him. If the people want war, then the rule of law must be followed to declare it first.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 9:43 am on Mon, Dec 24, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I like the bullet proof door idea along with replacing many exterior doors to schools that have significant amounts of easily broken glass in them with security doors, but like the armed security in every school idea, I worry about affordability.

    As for continuing to allow assault rifles as a check on a tyrannical government, do you really think citizens possessing assault weapons provides that? Really? I think if our government turned tyrannical (no, I don't think it already has!) no amount of assault weapons in the hands of Joe Blow on the street will prevent the U.S. Army from enforcing its will. We also have checks and balances in place to guard against tyranny. I would rather trust them than assault weapons in the hands of some scary people.

     
  • Mike_Zoril posted at 8:48 am on Mon, Dec 24, 2012.

    Mike_Zoril Posts: 2784

    The NRA called for having an armed policeman in every school in America. I think this will act as a great deterrent from having violence occur in the first place, and if it does occur, will help reduce the number of victims. However, I'm not sure this idea makes much sense from an affordability standpoint.

    Delavan Mike has a great idea by having locked and hidden gun safes throughout the school. As long as burglar's couldn't find the safes (to Bill Tinder's point), I think it's a more cost effective solution. I also like the idea of giving classroom's bullet-proof doors. If something bad should happen, it would be great if every classroom could be a "safe room" that the psychopath would most likely not be able to penetrate before police arrive.

    On the topic of an assault weapon ban, the purpose they serve is a check on a tyrannical government. Simply having assault weapons in the hands of the people - even if they do nothing else with them - boosts the chances that American citizens will avoid extreme oppression like so many other citizens have been in other countries where the people were defenseless.

    At the end of the day, I think we have to remember that freedom isn't free. You can trade all of your freedom for safety, but what kind of life would that be? The odds of any one person dying in a school shooting are similar to getting hit with lightning. It's unfortunately when it does happen, but in the big picture, it is still extremely rare.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 10:09 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    Oh, nice to have you up for Sunday dinner, lucky. We even talked some football.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 10:08 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    Even if the law allowed it, I wouldn't do it. Think of the liability if some student somehow managed to get his hands on my gun and used it. That is why I suggested hidden locked safes in strategic places around the building that only the trained employees knew about. I don't think too many burglars would successfully find them and be able to open the safe as bill suggests. Then again maybe its a bad plan. I just threw it out there for discussion.

     
  • luckydog posted at 9:44 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3629

    Any teacher foolish enough to carry a gun onto school property would be fired on the spot if discovered. His or her teaching career would be over.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 9:19 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I do agree with Mr Data's query of Ozzman. What do you use an assault rifle for?

    Yes, bill, even I as a teacher can admit that it might not be the best idea to allow all teachers to carry a concealed weapon. Like in any profession there are some who make the lot look bad, though I disagree the constitutional right to peaceably assemble in Madison has anything to do with it.

     
  • billtinder posted at 6:16 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    The reason I suggested concealed carry for teachers, is because I think it's a bad idea to leave guns in the schools over night. If teachers had them, then they could take them home at night; so that they didn't fall into some burglar's possession. Not all murderous attacks happen at schools, but enough of them do that if I were a teacher today I would quietly arm myself irregardless of policy. A man wearing long pants could easily conceal a small pistol around his ankle without anyone being the wiser and who knows how many lives that may save?

    Of course judging by the behavior of some of the teachers in Madison over the last year I can easily understand why Delavan has his reservations about arming teachers. [scared][smile]

     
  • billtinder posted at 6:04 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Mr Data, your analogy is spot on! Cars, like guns are inanimate objects that harm no one until a person get's involved.

    Your point that if someone really wants to kill people in large numbers, there are many options available other then guns. So how many of our personal freedoms are we willing to lay on the sacrificial alter of supposed improved safety? It's better that we don't travel down that slippery slope, since one only need look to other bastions of gun control around the world to see where it leads, If our big liberal government is so worried about guns falling into the wrong hands; they can start by discontinuing the practice of selling assault rifles (the real, fully automatic ones) to murderous gangs in Mexico, and leave honest citizens alone.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 3:14 pm on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    Mr Data, your analogy is ridiculous. People don't want to ban cars because their main purpose is not to kill people. When they are misused it is totally the fault of the driver. Assault rifles are made to kill people. Even though it is still the fault of the user, it is much different than cars.

     
  • Mr Data posted at 9:05 am on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3914


    What I find very interesting is when I asked ozzman99 in a previous blog .."You say you own one of these ' assault rifles". I, too, am a gun owner with guns suitable for hunting game, but I see no use for, or value of, a semi-automatic assault rifle style weapon, or one of those semi-automatic pistols that can hold 30 cartridges, or an Uzi, ect...." he failed to answer my question.

    Reason is .. those types of guns are illegal to use for hunting and they have no social redeeming value.

    These semi-automatic weapons with magazines holding 15 bullets or more are exactly the types of weapons that should be banned. Having said that, I would ask the bloggers had the Newtown, or Aurora Movie theater shooters used a car to run down the kids at Sand Hook Elementary School while they were playing outside on recess or run down the Batman Movie goers as they exited the theater would be talking about banning or controlling automobiles. That is extremely doubtfulk.

    Our society has taken positions on things. Killing people with cars for most of us is acceptable; it's not the cars fault, it is the drivers. But killing people with guns; for many people it is always the guns fault. Why is the use of instrument he/she used to kill someone treated differently? For that matter, why is the user treated differently?

    I see Janesville WI schools will now have a police raido in every school. That's a reasonable, affordable approach. And how costly would it be to have every school's classroom doors be made of metal and dead bolted by the teachers during classroom instruction time? That might help.

    There have to be innovative ways to help address thje problem with out getting all wrapped up on the world of politics that when done, the results never ends up solving the problem!

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 7:45 am on Sun, Dec 23, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I do not believe conceal carry in schools for individual teachers is a good idea. A better idea might be installing strategically placed and well hidden gun safes that trained administrators, police liaison officers, and teachers have access to if necessary.

    This, however, only addresses part of the issue. Everyone is focused right now on what happened in a school in Newtown. What about all the other places that were not in schools where mass shootings have taken place? Some of them were in places that allow concealed carry and it did no good in preventing the tragedies. Are we going to hide gun safes everywhere or get serious about reasonable gun control AND better mental health care?

    No one strategy will work and even several will not totally protect society. Determined bad people will always find a way. That does not mean we should continue to do nothing and continue to make it easy on them.

     
  • billtinder posted at 10:40 am on Sat, Dec 22, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Everybody agrees that something must be done, but we don't all agree as to what that is. Some people have suggested hiring armed specialists to stand guard over the schools. My problem with this Idea is the affordability issue. I do agree that leaving all these teachers and kids unprotected is also not acceptable. But stricter gun control will not make them safer. Only a measure of self defense can achieve that, through concealed carry for those teachers willing to be responsible for their own personal firearms, with lockable permenantly secured safes in the classroooms.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 9:05 pm on Fri, Dec 21, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    I don't usually get involved in this issue because I know both side are so entrenched it won't do any good and until recently I didn't have strong thoughts one way or the other. With as many mass shootings as we have had in recent years, however, I am beginning to think reasonable gun control can help. Of course it will not solve the problem completely because people kill people, guns don't. I understand that, but why make it as easy as we do for the bad guys to give all gun rights supporters bad names? As for what constitutes an assault rifle, I admit I haven't got a clue. But it would seem to me that we could rather easily determine what guns are reasonable hunting, defense, sport shooting weapons and which belong only on battle field. Maybe I am just being naive.

    I also agree with those who want to improve this nation's handling of the mentally ill, by the way. But just like potentially reasonable gun control would improvement there solve the problem all by itself? Of course not. That is why I get upset when some people argue we should do nothing because doing something won't fix the problem by itself. Maybe if we do something in enough areas it can make a difference. Reasonable gun control + improvements in dealing with the mentally ill = hope???

     
  • billtinder posted at 4:58 pm on Fri, Dec 21, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    I mean "relative"

     
  • billtinder posted at 4:57 pm on Fri, Dec 21, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    The liberals like to coin AR style rifles out of context as assault rifles, because they feel that it gives them a more credible argument then they would have if they spoke honestly. Besides it's all reletive to the point thats being made. A lever action 30-30 isn't considered an assault rifle today, but it certainly would have during the civil war, when confederate soldiers complained about winchesters that could be loaded on sunday and shot all week (according to them). They were certainly a huge upgrade from the single shot breechloaders of the day.

     
  • js20094 posted at 6:39 am on Fri, Dec 21, 2012.

    js20094 Posts: 1226

    It's irritating to me for people to use the word "assault rifle" lightly. Any gun can be used for assault, if the user deems it that way. The AR style rifle is no different on the inside than any semi automatic hunting rifle, it just looks different. They are a completely different rifle than what we put on the battlefield. The guns arent the problem, the people getting them is. All guns are deadly, and can be used for assault, a guy with 2 9mm pistols has at least 18 shots available to him at an instant, but you dont see the govt trying to ban handguns. I dont have an answer to gun violence, but banning any type of gun isnt the answer, criminals dont obey the laws.

     
  • luckydog posted at 10:35 pm on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3629

    Well Mr. Barth, you tried. The headline of your article reads, "Gun politics-as-usual - no longer tolerable." And judging from the posts on your website that is exactly what we have. You know, the usual right wing gun nuts passionately defending to the death their right to own any and all types of guns. So chances of any progress coming out of this tragedy are slim to none. I'm not sure it would do any good anyway. The horse is so far out of the barn that trying to get it back in the corral are probably futile. There are already so many guns in circulation that it makes attempts at control unworkable. So what's the answer? Good question. I certainly don't have one.

     
  • Mr Data posted at 4:21 pm on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3914

    ozzman99, you write .." I as an owner of one of these "assault rifles" can tell you that if you remove every one of those cosmetic features the gun will still function in exactly the same semi-automatic way that it always has."

    You say you own one of these ' assault rifles". I, too, am a gun owner with guns suitable for hunting game, but I see no use for, or value of, a semi-automatic assault rifle style weapon, or one of those smei-automatic pistols that can hold 30 cartridges, or an Uzi, ect.

    As a declared owner of an assault rifle, please tell us how you use such a weapon, or what you use it for?


     
  • ozzman99 posted at 3:45 pm on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    ozzman99 Posts: 50

    Mr. Barth as a member of the media and the print media especially I feel you do a great disservice to an already ignorant public on the subject of guns when you say "nobody needs military style assault weapons" The guns that are being targeted for ban by Sen Feinstein and President Obama are not "assault weapons" as our military would define them since they do not possess selective firing capabilities. They are semi-automatic civilian rifles that LOOK like a true assault weapon yet they function completely different. The reason so many gun owners like myself are as defensive as we are about these guns is because of the massive amount of lies and misinformation that the media feeds the American public. As an editor you of all people should know that when someone uses such descriptive words like "weapons of war" "military style assault weapon" "high powered rifle" "rapid fire gun" you are aiming to invoke an emotional response from someone, and sadly that person tends to be a typical uninformed person who can't tell the difference between shotgun and a rifle .Sen Feinstein and other anti-gun legislators know this ignorance exists and they use it to their political advantage. Sen Feinstein also seems to think that by a gun having cosmetic features such as a folding stock, flash compressor, bayonet lug or a pistol grip it somehow makes the gun more lethal. But I as an owner of one of these "assault rifles" can tell you that if you remove every one of those cosmetic features the gun will still function in exactly the same semi-automatic way that it always has. Rep McCarthy of New York who introduced another "assault weapons" ban in 2007 actually included a barrel shroud as a defining cosmetic feature that makes a gun an "assault weapon" yet when she was asked by a news reporter what a barrel shroud was and why it should be illegal her response was " I believe its the thing on a gun that goes up". A barrel shroud simply is a cover over the barrel of a gun that prevents a shooter from burning their hand on a hot barrel. That statement by Rep McCarthy is a prime example of the ignorance about these guns that has gun owners scared. She is a US Congresswoman and yet knows nothing about the guns she wants banned other than they look scary.

     
  • Mr Data posted at 11:31 am on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3914

    According to a July 24, 2012 Washington Post article written during the heart of the Presidential campaign it states ..” The United States is a less violent country than it was two decades ago. The homicide rate, which hit a peak in the early 1990s at about 10 per 100,000 people, has been cut in half to a level not seen since the early 1960s. ….. But there has been no equally corresponding decline in mass murder in the US -- these sudden, stunning eruptions of violence with multiple victims, often perpetrated by gunmen who researchers refer to as "pseudo-commandos." Such a killer, clad in body armor and with a small arsenal of firearms, struck Friday in Aurora, Colo., leaving a dozen dead, 58 wounded. “

    After last week’s mass killings in Newtown CT, the first thought by our politicians, media and community experts is always to accentuate blame to the instrument used that effected those killings. Generally guns, often assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols with large ammunition magazines .. but not always

    Here’s some stats about mass murders .. without more complete records, it is impossible to know whether mass killings increased over those years, according to Grant Duwe, director of research at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, who has studied mass murders. He finds:
    • The killings between 2006 and 2010, however, offer a portrait of mass murder that in many ways belies the stereotype of a lone gunman targeting strangers:
    • Lone gunmen, such as the one who terrorized Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, account for less than half of the nation's mass killers.
    • About a quarter of mass murders involve two or more killers.
    • A third of mass killings didn't involve guns at all.
    • In 15 incidents, the victims died in a fire.
    • In 20 others, the killer used a knife or a blunt object.
    • When guns were involved, killers were far more likely to use handguns than any other type of weapon.
    • Children are frequently victims. At least 161 who died in mass killings -- roughly one in five -- were 12
    and younger.
    • Mass murderers tend to be older than other killers, with an average age of nearly 32 years old.
    • Like all killers, they are overwhelmingly men.

    Just in 2012 .. there has been the horrific murder in a movie theater in Aurora CO on July 20 killing 12 and wounding 58; , another at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on August 5 killing 7 and wounding 3; and another at a manufacturer in Minneapolis on September 27 killing 5 and wounding 3 others. And now the unimaginable killing of so many 1st grade kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Guns, knives, automobiles, matches, explosives, airplanes, rope, poisons have all been weapons used to kill people. Our constitution provides us the power and the ‘rights’ to have access to things like these.
    It is wise and prudent to remember throughout all of the political rhetoric, public debate and anger we feel .. that we, the people of the USA, live in a nation of freedom. Freedom is not a self-perpetuated machine; first it needs to be embraced by all of us. Then it needs constant, and I’ll say it, … ‘selfish’ preservation by all of us. That is our duty, and the privilege of free people, such as we are in the USA.

    I have always been taught that our nation's freedom is NOT FREE; it is not without pain and suffering .. my God, how many wars have we had to fight to protect our freedom?

    I found these great quotes about our nation’s freedom that should not be forgot!

    “My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy.” -
Thomas Jefferson, 1785
    “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” Thomas Paine, 1777

    With the of freedom comes a responsibility of all of us to respect and prefer freedom and demand it for our posterity. How else has it come down to us? Generations before us demanded freedom for our sake. How else will it proceed beyond us?

    I understand the natural knee jerk reaction by all of us is to scream and demand gun control. But when the policies of government become hostile and constrictive to our freedom, playing these political games with the freedom we have will not make bad policies of today, or dad events that happen, better.

    Such politics become threatening to all free people when the paternalistic, BIG BROTHER state assumes government knows better and we individuals do not know what is best for ourselves, or our loved ones.

    Above all else, I ask we always remember that the responsibility and privilege of keeping our government free, and that any work towards policy reform, is with .. We the People; not with We The Government .. in mind.

    I always support things that make our freedoms better and safer; ie, seat belts in cars, helmets for motorcycles, security checks at our airports. And I’ll be 100% in support of placing control on semi-automatic rifles, or large magazine semi-automatic pistols clearly designed for warfare or to intentionally harm mankind. But that is the limit of any gun control acceptable to me.

    I’ll also be 100% in support of placing ‘reasonable’ control over creative expression and the rights of free speech for those 'artists' who include extremely large amounts of violence to make their movies, plays, songs, and video games.

    And I'll demand that we improve our mental illness systems in our nation and provide support and help for the 25% of our nation who need such help.

    It is in moments such as these, when our emotions run at fever pitch, that present great challenges for our nation and us all. These events afford tremendous opportunity to reattach ourselves to the basic freedoms and liberties that we all possess as Americans.

    As Americans, we are really NOT expected to “prefer” our freedoms; we are expected to keep our heart and mind attached to our freedoms. We are expected to demand our freedoms, and to accept and endure them in spite of whatever issues they may exposes us to.

    We will be wise in actions to not place any unreasonable infringement upon them.

    I ask that we all remember s during any national debate that follows, or whatever you wish to happen, that our Founding Fathers and millions of Americans military personnel have fought, and many have died for, the freedoms we enjoy today in our nation. Possessing guns happen to be one of those freedoms.

    Our nation’s freedom is not OURS to lose or to give up because we can. Our freedoms have been entrusted to us to secure and retain; and those are the freedoms we are expected to pass on to the generations who follow us.


     
  • Blah-de-Blah posted at 10:22 am on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    Blah-de-Blah Posts: 140

    You also bring up another good point Mike. I saw an article on that the other day; 56 million killed in countries where firearms were banned in the 20th century alone. I do agree that there has to be a point where enough is enough in terms of firearm purchases, but we do need some sort of protection, and a taser will do no good against a man with an illegally owned firearm.

    Overall, in response to Mrs. Lanza, let's just stick with the nicer philosophy of bad things done with good intentions. Mrs. Lanza did EVERYTHING wrong as a parent with a child in the autistic spectrum. A child with autism needs constant social exposure, language therapists, and strict parenting to educate them and keep them in line. Mrs. Lanza did none of that, and even went a step backwards with taking Adam out of school and exposing him to violent video games. Autistic individuals are prone to copy and do things that they see socially. Why? Because they didn't know what was acceptable and what was not in the first place. Of course, autism and video games are not the reason Adam did this, although it may be a contributing factor. The real reason I believe Adam did this is far deeper.

    I saw something from Morgan Freeman in response to the shootings that brought up an incredibly crucial point. In summary, not only will we have to address the 2nd Amendment, but we'll have to address the 1st as well.

    Let me explain.

    We live in a culture where violence and murder is popularized through constant exposure in the media, and I'm not talking about video games. I'm talking about CNN, Fox, every news outlet here in the US. On average, we report more violence and murder in the news than does any other country in the world. They do that because it sells, not because there isn't anything else they can report.

    Adam Lanza was a lonely nobody looking to become a somebody in this world. He didn't care how, he just wanted to become somebody, and is there no better way to become remembered than that guy who slaughtered children in cold blood. Heck, he'd be getting media attention for weeks, people will be writing books about him, capitol hill will fight because of him, he'd go down in history as the man who committed one of the most unspeakable of atrocities in the history of the United States.

    If we want any way of preventing future atrocities like this from happening again, not only would we have to make it more difficult to get a firearm and address security and concealed carry in public places, but we also need to lay the hammer down on our news outlets. Tough for a murderer to get remembered if there is very limited reporting on it.

     
  • billtinder posted at 9:39 am on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    Two things we aren't likely to agree on......

    What constitutes an "assault rifle" and what constitutes "reasonable".

     
  • TConway posted at 9:26 am on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    TConway Posts: 10

    Well said, ckuecker and I completely agree with you Mike_Zoril.

    Here is another excellent perspective:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/12/17/there-s-little-we-can-do-to-prevent-another-massacre.html

    Mr Barth, I'm sorry I don't agree with you this time. :(
    [wink]

     
  • Mike_Zoril posted at 7:32 am on Thu, Dec 20, 2012.

    Mike_Zoril Posts: 2784

    Without question, firearms can be used for sport, to protect your family, for peace of mind, and for American heritage and tradition. However, this is not the purpose of having a 2nd amendment. The reason our founding fathers gave us the 2nd amendment was so citizens had a defense against their government.

    Tens of millions of people have died at the hands of their own government when firearms were banned (see: http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/deathgc.htm). Protecting the 2nd amendment, including the right to have assault weapons, keeps the government in check. Everybody knows that what happened in 1930s & 1940's Germany was a massive tragedy and advocating a ban on assault weapons makes it all that more possible and likely something like that could happen again. Let's also not forget that the American government has a history of rounding up innocent people and sending them to the camps - look at the Native Americans and then later on, the Japanese-Americans in 1942. Who's next?

    Learn history! Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it!

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 10:18 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    To argue against reasonable gun control because it won't completely solve the problem is ridiculous. No one has said banning assault weapons will solve all the problems. Anything we can do to make it more difficult to commit acts like Sandy Hook should at least be considered. I don't care how you rationalize it, you have no need for an assault rifle unless you are a soldier on the battlefield. The Second Amendment does not say you may own any weapon you want. It can be limited just like any of our other rights. Should it be? Some say yes, some say no. Some play political games and blame a call for reasonable gun control on liberals trying to take advantage of a tragedy. I don't care about politics in this case. Reasonable gun control just makes sense to me.

     
  • Mentor397 posted at 8:12 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    Mentor397 Posts: 1519

    While we're at it, where are the old targets of political ire - Satanic cults and Dungeons and Dragons? Oh wait, they're been proven time and again not to be the cause of such attacks. Still, it's easier to attack such groups of people than it is to properly identify those who might commit such attacks. And now it's the same thing with movies, video games, and high-capacity firearms. Forget the millions of people who do these things or own these guns without problem, politics demands legislation to deal with the few.

    If people are throwing rocks at houses, it does no good to ban rocks or houses. If nothing else, cheap bomb ingredients can be found everywhere. A massacre doesn't need guns.

     
  • ckuecker posted at 7:36 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    ckuecker Posts: 13

    In the wake of last week's atrocity in Newtown, CT. comes the predictable liberal dance in the blood of innocents, the ritual blaming of the inanimate objects, and the instant demands that we do SOMETHING to prevent a similar tragedy from ever happening again.

    The liberals never waste a good crisis. They instantly begin beating the drums for their pet programs designed, in their minds, to "fix" the problem. Unfortunately, they never take the time to let the emotions settle down before proposing their solutions.

    A sober look at mass murders will show that the overwhelming majority - according to a recent article by National Review Online, only one mass killing since 1950 occurred in an area where the public was prohibited from carrying a defensive weapon.

    "(John) Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”"

    The shooter in Aurora, Colorado had his choice of several theaters closer to his home than the one he chose - one that prominently posted its' "no weapons" policy. Setting up designated weapons-free zones simply ensures that when an individual bent on mayhem wants to act out, he will easily find a suitable venue.

    I recently heard the police spokesman for Janesville state that Janesville schools were "safe" because the police there practice for such occurrences as a school shooting. This is good, for them to be prepared. The fact remains that if someone DOES get into a school with murder on his mind, he will have free run of a weapons-free zone until someone can call those trained officers, and they can get to the school. During the response time, how many lives will be lost that possibly could have been saved by one teacher, maintenance person, or school official with a defensive weapon?

    Arguments against large-capacity magazines miss the mark. A maniac with ten 10-round magazines can cause as much mayhem as one with a 100-round magazine. In the case of the Aurora shooting, the presence of a 100-round magazine probably helped hold down the body count, as it jammed, preventing further use of that rifle. Ten 10-round magazines are also easier to conceal than one big magazine.

    "Assault rifles" are a manufactured threat. A "true" assault rifle is a fully-automatic or select-fire weapon that can only be owned by a person with the proper BATFE paperwork and the $200 tax paid to the Treasury. No rifle sold at any Wal-mart was ever an "assault" rifle, no matter how "scary" it looks. Any bolt-action deer rifle has much more powerful cartridges.

    I don't quite understand what your point was with the Lincoln quote. I never have heard anything about him advocating limits on the public's access to or possession of weapons, up to and including warships. Indeed, many of the divisions in the Union Army were raised and supplied by private citizens who pulled together their own people and arms.

    To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes that one cannot yell "fire!" in a crowded theater misses the point entirely. One is completely free to cause panic in a public place, and no law will ever prevent someone bent on doing so from his desire. The quote is meant to imply that one cannot expect the First Amendment to shield him from the consequences of such an action. The similar application to the Second Amendment is that yes, you are allowed to keep and bear - carry - "arms" in public - and that you must be prepared to suffer the consequences of their misuse. No law can ever prevent misuse of inanimate objects or substances - if laws alone worked, there is no drug problem today in America.

    I am disturbed by the number of otherwise intelligent persons who fall for the left-liberal propaganda that the Second Amendment is somehow coupled to "hunting" and "sport shooting". The Second Amendment says noting about either - it is there to ensure that Americans will never be subject to the kind of totalitarian government that too many countries on Earth have suffered under. To buy into the argument that gun ownership and availability of "military style" weapons is somehow outdated and a relic of less sophisticated times is what is truly absurd.

    The true discussions must first be about mental illness and how to protect the public from persons who may be suffering from disorders that may cause violent outbursts, and second, how to eliminate the risks to our schools posed by their "weapons free" designation.

    To argue for more "gun control" when it has been proven the world over that "gun control" is worse than useless, is truly intolerable. Remember that every case of genocide in more than the last 100 years was preceded by disarmament of the public - and THAT is why we need to have access to those evil "assault" rifles. To assume it could never happen here is unthinkable - just as unthinkable the Newtown shooting were.

     
  • Blah-de-Blah posted at 7:25 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    Blah-de-Blah Posts: 140

    Bill, I fully agree with you. If a person has the intent to commit manslaughter, no amount of gun control is going to stop them from illegally obtaining a firearm and using it. Gun control will only put innocent people at risk. Besides, killers can get crafty, look at 9/11.

    From what I've heard from the Democrats and the Republicans in response to the shootings, I like parts of both sides. I support the Democratic idea of strengthening the process to getting a gun, such as a mental testing of the entire family. On the other side, I support the Republican idea of remoddling concealed carry and security in public places, like schools and malls, so that a tragedy like this would be harder to commit again. Both sides are great, hopefully our leaders can compromise and come to those exact conclusions.

     
  • Delavan Mike posted at 6:39 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    Delavan Mike Posts: 1295

    Now is precisely the time to pass "feel-good" legislation. America is fed up and even the NRA has been reluctant to publicly argue their cause. Now is precisely the time to get meaningul (not just "feel-good") legislation passed that will not infringe on the rights and freedoms of anyone. You still can have the right to a gun, but no where in the Second Amendment does it say you may own any kind of gun you want. All of our rights in this country have their limits. As Mr. Barth said, no one needs assault rifles or ammo magazines that hold obscenely high numbers of rounds to hunt Bambi or defend their home. No one's rghts would be violated by banning such weapons except where they belong--on a battlefield. Will it solve the problem completely, of course not. But why do we continue to make it SO DAM_ EASY for these guys to get the weapons they need to do so much harm? Any way we can make it more difficult would be a good start in my mind.

     
  • billtinder posted at 5:35 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4803

    I doubt that feel good legislation, would do little more then to infringe on the rights and freedom of citizens who wouldn't dream of committing such an atrocity in the first place.

    Does anyone think for a moment that some criminally insane individual, with suicidal tendencies, bent on committing mass murder before checking out; is going to fear the consequences of breaking some restrictive law?

    Before implementing anything here, I suggest that we restrict the sale of 30 round magazines and semi-automatic rifles in Afghanistan to see if it results in any less suicide bombings.
    Because let's face it, if your willing to die in order to commit mass murder; there's a lot of ways you can achieve it!

    If the president wants to make us all feel safer, he can start by putting an end to the practice known as "home schooling", that only serves to isolate kids from the healthy interaction with their peers, that is crucial to their mental development.

     
  • luckydog posted at 4:15 pm on Wed, Dec 19, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3629

    Thank you for your well thought out commentary. I certainly don't have a solution to offer, but the present situation is intolerable. Certainly well meaning people can reach some agreement to solve this problem, although a total solution is probably not possible.

     

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