Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sandy Hook Tragedy - Response, Part I

Once again a tragedy involving a firearm has struck the U.S. (Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut); and the aftermath brings the usual spate of comments and solutions to avert such tragedies in the future, most of which deal with additional regulation of guns.  But let’s not forget that most of the rhetoric related to guns and gun laws is spouted by both individuals and media who have little if any true knowledge or experience with either.  Cases in point:
Many/most of the current diatribes make frequent use of the terms “assault rifle” and “semi-automatic” and paint them with the same negative brush. In reality, an “assault rifle” (as available to civilians) is nothing more than a cosmetically-different rifle (configured to resemble a military weapon), most of which are “semi-automatic” which simply means that 1 bullet is fired with each pull of the trigger and the next bullet is fed into the firing chamber without manual manipulation (strictly speaking, even a revolver operates in a “semi-automatic” manner!).
There are literally tens of thousands of gun-related laws in the U.S., ranging from Federal law to local/municipal law. Virtually every facet of owning, carrying, transporting and using a gun is either directly regulated in some way or is covered under the umbrella of some related law (e.g., a general law relating to disorderly conduct would encompass the act of unnecessarily brandishing a gun).
Deliberate gun violence (crime) and inadvertent gun harm (accidents) are not the “epidemic” that might be expected due to the civilian ownership of approx. 300 million guns in the U.S. – approx. 8% of all violent crimes are committed by a person known to have a gun, and approx. .5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of all fatal accidents involve guns.
Guns are used approx. twice as often for self-defense as they are to commit crimes; and crime and murder rates are generally lower in states with established concealed-carry laws.
Two of the cities with the strictest regulation of gun ownership and possession in the U.S., Washington, D.C. and Chicago, IL, have crime and murder rates involving handguns significantly higher than the national average for the same offenses; and both cities had significant increases in their crime and murder rates after the more stringent gun laws went into effect.
There is no way to predict anti-social or psychopathic behavior (the root causes of the vast majority of gun misuse); and there is no way to assure that a person unfit to own, possess or use a gun will never do so.
So…guns are not inherently evil, they are simply tools for a variety of purposes; there are sufficient gun laws on the books if they would be administered/enforced strictly and consistently (the vast majority of gun-related crimes are diminished or pled down during criminal proceedings); the vast and overwhelming majority of guns in the U.S. are owned and used lawfully and responsibly.
Here is a rhetorical question for the anti-gunners: If guns are so inherently bad, why do you immediately want a gun on scene (in the hands of a trained professional) to respond to and mitigate some evil action?   It would seem that that in itself is a tacit admission that it is not the gun itself that is inherently bad…