Around the Internets

Why does everything with you and me have to be so political? A return to serious BAU (hope you saved some whiskey to help blunt the vicious snap back to reality):

Why is the AR-15 such a popular weapon for mass killers?

Who Is Too Unbalanced to Be Armed?

God’s Obituary: A Humanist Response to Mass Murder

Idle No More: Indigenous-Led Protests Sweep Canada for Native Sovereignty and Environmental Justice:

Justice at stake: Chief Theresa Spence passes Day 15 of hunger strike

No, things are not getting better for Canadian natives

Jian Ghomeshi’s audio essay on #IdleNoMore (h/t)

The Delhi Gang Rape

The temptation of anarchy

Dear FBI: Show Your Work

Germany’s austerity plans will beggar Europe

Israel Must Deal With Iran in Syria

Prevent what?

For Afghan Reconstruction, Millions of Dollars Up in Smoke

Top Ten U.S. Weather Events Of 2012

Feds Requiring ‘Black Boxes’ in All Motor Vehicles

A Look at the Issues Raised by ‘Black Boxes’ in Cars

The Ugly Racial History of “Right to Work”

For Outgoing Lawmakers, Connections Mean Chance to Cash In

Mitt Romney was hesitant to reveal himself (h/t)

Want to curb the deficit? Then go over the cliff already

Cloudy With No Chance of Normal

Obama and the Kurdish Question: Drones Are Not the Answer

Kenya’s first gay political candidate reveals why he quit race (h/t)

Nate Silver: Person of the Year

Golden Spike promises crewed trips to the moon by 2020

Is Every Space Tourist Fit To Travel?

Culture, Christmas, and Coordinating Human Action

Five ways your health care will change in 2013

15 comments to Around the Internets

  • Mattyb719

    Read a couple though not all. The article “Who is to unbalanced to be armed” raises a couple interesting questions.

    How do we assess that when so many mentally ill fall through the cracks and have no medical history that might throw up a red flag during a gun purchase. Then there is HIPPA and the consideration what exactly we can say is or isn’t discrimination based on an ADA recognized disability.

    I did hear a few interesting ideas though. One person suggested a gun registry for all guns purchased which would be maintained by the federal government and shared with local law enforcement. I don’t see that happening, but still an idea. The ATF said there were over 5 million guns purchased in 2010. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/08/guns-in-america-a-statistical-look/

    What if each one had a registration fee? at 25 bucks a pop that’s 125 million.

    Another idea was more of a epiphany than an actual solution. They argued that the intent of the 2nd amendment was to allow the population to protect itself against a tyrannical government. They went on to say that the 2nd amendment was moot at this point because the military weaponry is far too advanced for the weapons available to civilians to make a difference. I don’t really see a second amendment repeal coming.

    I thought of an idea too. Since the gun show loophole and private sales are considered by many to be the cause of gun violence why not pass a law that allows for civil or criminal suits (or both) that allow for the person who sells the firearm to be liable. That would cut down on both activities significantly in two of the primary sales situations that people oppose.

    I’d say eliminating the 2nd amendment completely is impossible. I know plenty of people that get their meat largely from hunting. There is still the option to make gun ownership like a drivers license. It’s not a right but a privilege.

    No trolling. Honestly. We need a larger pool of solutions.

    • actor212

      I had a similar thought to one you posted: if a gun is used in a felony, there should be a mandatory ten year Federal prison sentence.

      Five for using the gun, five for the registered owner.

      This way, if it’s sold privately, it forces the seller to do a background check or face substantial criminal (and presumably civil) liability.

  • The Economist

    Insurance policy

    Dec 26th 2012, 14:45 by M.S.

    NOURIEL ROUBINI, a guy who knows a lot about risk, tweets in favour of mandatory liability insurance for gun owners:


    If we had liability insurance on guns, as we do 4 cars, we will see which insurance company would insure at which price folks with arsenals”

    It’s an idea that seems to be gathering a bit of steam. At Forbes.com, John Wasik lays out the logic behind treating firearm deaths as a market externality to be compensated via insurance, as we do with cars: “Those most at risk to commit a gun crime would be known to the actuaries doing the research for insurers… An 80-year-old married woman in Fort Lauderdale would get a great rate. A 20-year-old in inner-city Chicago wouldn’t be able to afford it. A 32-year-old man with a record of drunk driving and domestic violence would have a similar problem.” Robert Cyran and Reynolds Holding write that mandatory liability insurance is a measure that could pass Supreme Court muster where other restrictions might fail: “[T]here’s a strong argument that damage caused by firearms gives the government a ‘compelling interest’ to require insurance, the test for infringing a constitutional right.”

    More at the link.

    • Mattyb719

      That’s probably another idea that needs consideration. It kinda falls into the same category as driving a car and having a license. You can do it, but you don’t necessarily have a right to it. We already take gun rights away from felons.

      I’d argue that it’s the people that are breaking the law that are the real threat, but then again it’s no different than auto insurance. There’s even uninsured drivers insurance as a built in measure against people violating the law.

      +1 to the solution pool.

    • actor212

      It’s still not enough, in my book. Automatic weapons, including handguns, need to be banned.

      One only has to look to the reaction of the gun nuts who are throwing tantrums like little babies to see there is no mature decision making involved. Let’s take the damn toys away.

      • Agree. There is a big difference between a hunting weapon which (like a rock) could be used to kill people and a weapon designed only for the purpose of killing people. Unless your profession involves killing people [within the law - hit men need not apply], there is no justification for owning such a weapon.

        • Mattyb719

          I don’t believe there are any automatic weapons available at the retail level, perhaps there are some that can be modified. I’m not an expert though so somebody feel free to correct me.

          I’d still argue with Steeleweed on the hunting weapon debate. If I was somebody, like people I know personally, that ate exclusively game meat I’d say that the more effective the weapon the better. Granted most of them enjoy the sport of hunting also and I’ve never known one of them to use a military style weapon for hunting. If I ever wanted to rely exclusively on game meat for my meat consumption then I think a gun like the one “designed only for the purpose of killing people” would be the way I’d lean.

          • I started hunting at around age six and hunted regularly for the next 13 years, until I went into the military. Aside from a shotgun for ducks, I hunted rabbits, deer, elk, a rogue bear, bobcats and a mountain lion with rifles. I used a bolt action .22 for small game and varmints and a .30-.40 Krag single-shot for the bigger animals. Missed a lot of ducks with the shotgun, but with the rifles, I never needed more than one shot, partly because I stalked my game close, which seems to be almost a lost art these days. Too many hunters depend on firepower instead of skill.

            As far as modifying a rifle, I once had a semi-automatic .22. Took me about 30 minutes to make it more or less fully automatic. It would fire 8-9 rounds before it jammed – wasn’t designed to clear the breach fast enough. If a 12-year-old kid can do that, it shouldn’t be very hard for a gunsmith to convert from semi-auto to full auto.

  • Murder will always be with us – the ex-felon who shot the fireman a few days ago had been in prison for killing his granny with a hammer, so you don’t need to go high-tech to kill. Still, I doubt if he would have been able to bludgeon dozens of people to death.

    The argument for insurance as a deterrent to gun possession might thin the ranks of gun owners or at least make them think more carefully about the use and risks of legally-acquired firearms but would not have much effect on those acquired outside the ‘official’ channels via gun shows & private sales.
    I would rather see a total ban on non-hunting weapons and much tighter control/regulation of all sales. As long as known felons and known nutcases (aside from unrecognized nutcases) can access weapons, particularly military-grade hardware – other approaches are a bandaid on a hemmorraghing wound.

    • Mattyb719

      I think, and this is just my opinion, that a silencer is a far more effective tool for mass casualties than large ammunition capacity. I’m not really certain why none of the spree killers have made them. Ultimately, like Dave said in a another post, the best time to kill somebody is before they know you’re there (sorry if the paraphrase misconstrued it). Silenced weapons allow that.

      I think most guns have the potential to kill large numbers of people in a short time. I just don’t see how any weapon ban will help that. As you said they won’y have much effect on those acquired outside the official channels.

      • Silencers don’t silence, you know. The sound is still quite loud and still recognisably a gunshot.

        • Mattyb719

          You’re quite right. It’s not like the movies with the little pfft… pfft, but given how unfamiliar people are with the sound of a gunshot I’d think there would be far more of a chance that it was mistaken for something else. I think the silencer takes away that distinctive “CRACK” that guns have. Recognizable, yes, maybe not to somebody unfamiliar with the sound of an actual gunshot. I can’t distinguish the difference between different kinds and calibers of ammunition. I think most people that can’t even distinguish between a transformer blowing, a car backfiring, or a gunshot.

          Something that just occurred to me is that guns are really different than a number of the illegal things getting tossed around the “black market”. Unlike drugs or stolen goods, which move fast and fall off the radar, guns have a really long life. Guns lose little value over time and are still quite effective even after decades of use. This is especially true when they’re cared for. It really makes for a difficult situation when we have things like bans on the table.

          Steeleweed you have far more experience than I do with guns, but I have read many things about how easy it is to modify some guns to be fully automatic. I certainly believe you. There’s certainly plenty of information out there on modifications for guns and plenty of other less than wholesome things. I remember reading little black books on improvised munitions when I was a kid that would probably get you sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2012 for ordering them online. Most of what I’ve read says that fully auto weapons are actually harder to control, from a marksmanship perspective, than semi-auto. Not experience talking, just what I’ve read. From my understanding there are also issues with heat warping the barrel of guns, even those designed to be fully automatic, to the point that they become useless.

          It’s a quagmire. I heard that there was a gun control bill proposed today, but I haven’t had time to look at it. From what I’ve heard it’s far more restrictive than the assault rifle ban was way back when. Can’t comment on the specifics since I haven’t read it.

  • “but given how unfamiliar people are with the sound of a gunshot”

    They haven’t lived in the areas I have, obviously. Folks, you haven’t really understood the need for a start on serious gun control, which will in time also start to restrict and then remove illegal guns from the street, until you have lived in those areas. A couple of times getting the kids up at 3am and moving them to sleep in the hall through the center of the apartment – so that a stray round has to come through two thin walls, not just one, to end their little lives – will surely sharpen your priorites, your poor kid’s lives or the antiquated ruminations of long-dead rich folks.

    Something Raja sent me:

    “Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment… laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind… as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, institutions must advance also, to keep pace with the times… We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

    – Thomas Jefferson, on reform of the Virginia Constitution

    • Mattyb719

      I can’t imagine what that’s like and I won’t pretend to.

      The quote from Raja is great, but if the human mind were more developed and enlightened we wouldn’t need gun control. This isn’t an argument for more more enlightenment rather is a testament to how unenlightened we are.

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