Thursday, December 6, 2007

Re: Gun Vote

   congrats on being a veteran!  be proud of your service.  no one can take it from you, and it sounds like you're justly willing to let it inform the rest of your life.   since you're still asking questions you haven't adopted the all-too-frequent fault of the ex-military:  my country right or wrong -- i don't question it.  

    you question causes me to really consider what i'd like to see.   i used to belong to the "Brady Campaign", and have to agree in principal with them, that there is no good purpose for the pistol in the hands of a civilian.   but they want to ban them, and i'd rather leave the question to interpretation of the 2nd  amendment:   we have to regulate, not abolish firearms.  what i was getting at with the last letter was i'm more concerned with respect for the several bill of rights, as a group, than with any one in particular.   for example, the first and fourth amendments are under greater assault than the second.    1=freedom of speech, now that we've called campaign contributions as speech, this tends to allow corporate money to dominate the dialog.  4=unlawful search and seizure, the administration's lockup of so-called "enemy combatants" without due process threatens free people everywhere.
   but what about the 2nd amendment.  i've already claimed that the rights are individual rights.  some of my fellow liberals would claim the 2nd is only a "collective" right.   unfortunately, the law in the country is only contested, even all the way to the supreme court, as individual cases.   then, depending on how the justices write their opinion, other, lower courts are either directly instructed, or often are able to interpret how widely any decision applies to them.  for example 1954's "Brown vs Board of Education" struck down the 1896 "Plessy vs Ferguson", which said  education could be separate and equal.  According to Plessy, it was possible to get an equal education in separate facilities.  Brown V Board said there was no evidence that in practice, separate was ever equal.  So, while Brown involved a Topeka KS school, and one other,  there was little doubt from the ruling it was universal.   

  i believe the court has taken on cases this term which will test the 2nd amendment, and possibly the notion that it's an individual vs collective right, but i'm not really sure of the issues.   the nagging feeling i have though is that this is an "advocacy case", where there is no actual grievance, but a perceived one.  e.g.  a state may want to "regulate" the access of individuals to say, AK 47s, so they require people to be members of a gun club, secure those weapons, even though they belong to individuals, who are ultimately responsible, but they must accept the
club security.  one can imagine someone can claim damage, but the guy in nebraska who's estranged son "stole" his weapon, and took it to the mall and killed 8 people might have used the help of the locked up gun in the club to secure it's proper use.  

  so, what would i consider effective regulation.   consider the needs of the public, to remain safe in their person: they should be able to go to the mall, and expect to be able to go home without being shot at, wounded, or killed.  also, consider the need of sportsmen (and women) to exercise their interest in firearms.   let me confess, that as high school students, my brother and i took the MN firearms safety course, using a 22 rifle my dad had, and used it enough to qualify.  i never felt the need to pick up a firearm since.   but i don't want to impose my lack of interest on those who do.   so, what to do.    well, those of us who are interested, but otherwise un-informed can see various categories of gun: pistols, rifles, shotguns, military, heavy artillery, ...   going up the scale, various degrees of automatic; manual, semi-, fully-.   there are various calibers, loads, historic, etc...    someone, the Atty General, the ATF,  the FBI, ... will identify the useful categories of firearms, of which there might be a few hundred types.   every personal weapon will need to belong to one of these categories.  no-one (incl the feds) needs to know the identities of all the weapons of every such category.   but some of those categories will be the ones which create more harm to the population at large then other categories, and most of the various categories will be otherwise harmless.  if i had to guess, but i could be wrong, the harmful categories might include 9 mms and certainly the AK-47.  22 rifles, probably not, but the list of dangerous categories would be data driven:  e.g. "these 6 categories of weapon were responsible for 80% of civilian fatalities in the last 3 years",for example.   the federal govt would provide a national registry, federally _funded_, administered by the states and registered gun dealers ( e.g. my NJ driver's license permits me to drive in MN,e.g., since my Toyota dealer "handles all the paperwork" for my new car).  this registry would require periodic renewal for all the firearms in the few designated categories.    this could be handled in bulk, at no inconvenience to the individual through clubs, dealers, ...   so why do this at all?  

  so many of the weapons used in crimes, holdups, .. not to mention fatal shootings are found to be "stolen".  as it stands, there is little incentive to report stolen weapons.   so here's what would happen:   if your weapon is in the few categories requiring registry, you'd better report it stolen.  Why?   if it's found to have committed a capitol crime, the registered owner of the identified weapon (thru ballistics)  is the prime suspect.    my model for this is the all-too-typical shooting of a police officer, Joyce Carnegie, in Orange NJ, in April 1999:
as we later came to know the shooter had stolen the gun from his cousin in GA, and the gun had legally been bought in VA.   it had been stolen more than 6 months and less than a year before it was used in a holdup, which was interrupted by Officer Carnegie.   were the real owner required to show proof of the safe custody of the gun, it's theft would have been quickly traced to the cousin, who the owner suspected, but had no incentive to pursue, since he had other similar guns, and the cousin had left town some time before.   the point is the owner had no incentive to act responsibly and report this dangerous weapon being at large.

  an equally sad side-effect of this case was the death (i forget if it was suicide) of an un-involved suspect, arrested because he looked like the real suspect.   the gun was eventually identified by ballistics, but had it been on the "stolen" list, it's identity would have been immediately known and the wrong guy might only have been held overnight rather than nearly a week.   the multiple tragedies in this all-too frequent type of event would have been avoided, many observed at the time, would have been avoided with the simplest registry system.  

   as a self-critique, you may have noticed my too cavalier claim that there would be only a few categories to register.   a natural fear from the gun-owning crowd is the government couldn't resist calling all firearms as "dangerous".   i'd restrict the list, by law, to the identifiable smaller list of categories in the following way:  in any population, as you've probably observed, there's what's called the 80-20 law.   an example is the familiar "20 % of the people have 80% of the money, and 80% of the people only have 20 % of the money".   actually, since the regan ascendancy, barely interrupted by the clinton years, it's now more like 90 - 10!   so, in the case of firearms,
by statute, i'd restrict it to the 5% of the categories of weapons which are responsible for 95% of the deaths, or whatever the number is, but the categories would be severely restricted by law, provided the law was supported by those who i call "responsible" gun owners and dealers.   some of my liberal friends might want the 100-100 case, but, i would observe, if you don't aim for perfection, and are willing to "tolerate" a low level of gun violence,  you will gradually see the "dangerous" categories change, and the total fatalities greatly reduce, to where the visible sources of gun death wouldn't be from these "random" sources. i.e. the problem will have long moved to where the responsible gun owners somehow don't feel they are the threatened ones.

 thanks for the opportunity to think about this.

 i've posted this and other comments on my weblog:

 please share this with site with your friends.

 thank you.

On Dec 6, 2007 2:20 AM, Lilith Eventide Nightshade <> wrote:
Mr. Mc Gowan,
I have been fascinated by your discourse. Please tell
me about your interpretation of responsible
I am a veteran. I understand and appreciate the rights
and priveledges accrued to gun ownership.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Anna Ayres

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